Hackensack River Canoe & Kayak Club

paddling for over a third of a century

Upper Reaches of the Hackensack River
by Betty Wiest

April 23, 2023

I came a long way to see family and friends in the NY/NJ area the last two weeks of April so it didn’t seem unusual to try and arrange a paddle….and to one of my early spring favorite places…the Upper Reaches of the Hackensack River.

I’ve been on the road for the past several weeks and am finally back in South Carolina. Writing this trip report has been on my To Do List for awhile.

The weather was iffy right up to the time of launch, but the paddlers were not daunted by it. (Terri R., Mike B., Al G., Sumonnat K., Peter W., Naomi G., Robyn L., Phil B., Joan B., Carrie C., Robert Z., Sheri B., Ulla Z., and Ken P., and me…..we missed you, Manfred!)

Known for its vast array of wildlife, we were not disappointed…. several swans, an eagle, an egret, snapping turtles, and many common birds of the wetlands.

After paddling the ribbon-like, higher than normal, river (the water lilies were starting to multiply making paddling only slightly challenging), we made our way, single file, to the straight channel past several boardwalk-like remnants and a single-person ferry system. Someone witnessed a turtle doing its thing (probably a first in the annals of the HRC&KC).

It seemed like too much to contend with, so we did not venture into the Louisiana bayou area of patricianly submerged trees.

The wind was picking up but we started to paddle into the main body of the lake. It was here that we saw a juvenile eagle high in a leafless tree. The wind was really starting to pick up; some paddlers chose to hang back while many of us paddled on. As leader, I chose to paddle on, but in retrospect, it would have been wiser to hang back as well.

On the return to the launch, we encountered one fast-moving riffle; some paddled through it, some portaged a short distance (thanks, Al For your assistance!).

We all got safely back; but alas, we did not have an after-paddle picnic….that will have to wait for someone else’s trip.

Happy Paddlin'