Musconetcong River/Saxton Lake
by Peter Walker
Sunday, July 12, 2020
It was a beautiful clear sunny day after two days for heavy rain and winds when six members and a guest met by the former Elsie’s Tavern, which itself replaced a Morris Canal lock-keepers house where the canal boats passed between the river and the towpath canal.
The river is held back by a dam further downstream, forming a wider section known as Saxton Lake, which retains enough water in this stretch for paddling during most dry spells. The recent wet spell however meant levels were well up.
The put in area had a good number of cars, but we had no trouble finding parking.
We started out heading upstream on the lake and into the natural river bed. The turtle population was out enjoying the warming sun. Paddling alongside the canal towpath which is now the route of the Morris Canal Greenway and under the Kinney Road bridge, we had to do a very low “limbo” to get under a fallen tree, but were able to float over the area that is often so shallow that it is necessary to get out and pull the boats.
Our turning point was the low dam across the river downstream of Route 80. Many of us tried to paddle up over the dam, but only a few succeeded in getting all the way over it. After playing or resting there, we headed back downstream, enjoying the clear water and view of the surrounding hills. Some headed back to the put-in, while some went past it along the route the canal boats took, turning before reaching the dam in Stephens State Park. I spotted a number of unicorns resting in the weeds alongside this stretch, and managed to retrieve them to rehome where they would not present a danger to other wildlife.
Back at the put-in we reviewed the informational sign about the canal in the area while loading up. As other participants commented it was a “Nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon” and “Everything was perfect! I always enjoy a bit of history about the area.”
Photos from Andrea, Diane, Ulla and Naomi are in the album at https://photos.app.goo.gl/NDJR4EH1SXQyhD9u9