How's this: work all Saturday in a center city Philadelphia hospital. Coax boss to let you out 20 minutes early. (doesn't hurt that he has kayaked too!) Drive home STAT in 45 minutes. Throw everything in the back of car (OK, I have an inflatable). Fill gas tank ($40!!!) Drive to Atsion Lake STAT in 45 minutes. Have inflatable kayak on water in 10 minutes. Ah.......Paddle west to favorite picnic cove....ah....sun's in my eyes, wish I had brought my sunglasses....ah....arrive picnic cove, check watch to calculate paddle time.....ah....munch on feta, olives, pita bread, fruit juice......ahhhhhhh....
darn, time to paddle back. Sun's not in my eyes now....ahh, cedar trees and sky reflected in the water, birds calling, fish jumping....ahhh, made it in time.
Deflate boat, throw in car, comb hair while Park Rangers impose their SUV behind mine....yeah, yeah, only 10 minutes until the park closes at 8pm, I get the message!!!!
Repeat on Sunday, but keep boat in the car for quicker departure. Paddle east so sun is not in eyes. Sky and shoreline reflected in glassy smooth water. Am I on the water, in the sky, or flying through the trees? Time departure better so as not to annoy dear park rangers.
Reality check: If you go during the day on a crowded weekend, you might not get into the park because it is a popular swimming area. But at other times, if you're a boater, you will feel as if you are all by yourself. Great place for a beginner, like me.
I dearly love Atsion Lake. It is where I got started kayaking this summer, and has been a gentle place for me to teach my son too. The lake is small, so your paddling can be done in one or two hours at the most. It is usually flat, but sometimes has some current and itty bitty waves. My only disappointment has been the number of times the park has been so crowded that we couldn't get in.
State Park. Entrance Fee most times (later in the afternoon there is no one to collect it.) Bathrooms, showers, snack bar, lifeguarded swimming area, boat ramp, small beach.
NJ doesn't require permits for canoes or kayaks, but double-check official state website.
State Park entrance fee is $10 per carload on weekends.
From Route 30, take 206 North. In about 10 minutes there will be a tiny little brown sign low on the right indicating the park entrance on the left.
An ordinary street map sufficed for me. There is a sluice (?) for Atision Lake to continue into a river. I'm not familiar with the river which forms the lake at all.