Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

East Branch Croton River, Great Swamp, Patterson, NY
by Bob Rancan

Saturday, May 21, 2022

...a very, very hot day to be paddling in a swamp. Regardless, 11 paddlers showed up at the Green Chimneys school in Brewster, NY with lots of sunscreen and extra drinking water.

What we did not have to contend with was low water levels. The East Branch, Croton River gauge at Brewster was at 3.81, 181cfs well above the median level for that date of 112cfs. Although our first excursion there in 2013 had us paddling at an amazing 479cfs, during the previous week I kept thinking back to the June of 2016 trip when we were stuck in the mud at 50cfs. It is a wonder how many obstacles reveal themselves at very low water levels. But back to the present: This was a very pleasant paddle, and there were no obstacles to carry around or over. The heat and sun tend to dominate my recollections of the day but here and there a slight breeze made it a bit more bearable. Lots of activity around us too...3 or 4 Great Blue Herons, a mute swam, 2 kingbirds, warbling vireo and yellow warblers heard and loads of barn swallows, tree swallows, (possible bank swallows) and many, many Red Wing Blackbirds on territory, with occasional glimpses of females coming and going from their nests. A hummingbird and yellow warbler at the take-out while loading up the boats was a nice treat.

A final note; During the 2016 trip I was informed by the ranger from the organization F.R.O.G. (Friends of the Great Swamp) that a permit was needed to visit the Patterson Environmental Park at the Great Swamp. It seems this is required for groups. It was not readily discoverable online how to go about obtaining this but an e-mail to the Town Clerk of Patterson (and the Asst. Town Clerk) got a quick response & an application to fill out. After I provided the particulars, they sent a printable permit to place in car plus a copy to carry with us. There was no fee. There were lots of people paddling that day and no other cars seemed to display a permit but I suggest if you have a group going, you contact the Town Clerk.