The Dead River is located in Somerset County beginning in the northern reaches of Bernards Township however, is doesnt appear to be kayak accessible until County Route 525 at the Warren Township border.
The accessible river itself is a 2.25 mile (as the crow flys) 20 to 50 wide smooth, slow, black water ride with MANY twists and turns that ends just past Somerset County Route 651 (King Georges Road) at the Passaic River where Bernards Twp., Warren Twp. and Long Hill Twp. meet.
The first leg of the river starts at the Somerset County Route 525 (Martinsville Rd.) Bridge and is very shallow (about 1). It travels between the Somerset Hills Hotel and Spring Ridge (condos)
The second leg is a long sweeping bend near I-78 that gets deeper heading toward it. On this leg of the trip we had to carry over 1 downed tree, SQUEEZE under another and shoot the rapids (about a class .25!!).
The third leg is where most of the twists and turns are. Here it got deeper and very desolate. We saw many large trees with deer stands (not many animals though, hopefully because it was almost winter). We also saw a rope bridge strait out of an Indiana Jones movie. At the end of this leg we barely squeezed through the log jam at the Dead River Road Bridge and under to take a short break before beginning leg number four.
Leg four was a nice lazy float through the woods. Near the end of this leg, just before the turn into the homestretch we saw some thing neither of us had ever seen in the wild - TWO OWLS perched high in a tree within 50 of the river bank! Wow !!
The last leg travels through the grassy flats within yards of noisy I-78 (I had forgotten about the highway!). We tried hard but had to carry around one last logjam just before our exit at the King George Road Bridge.
At our entry point on CR525 is the Somerset Hills Hotel and just across the street is a small strip mall. Although I didnt pay much attention to it I would imagine it has some kind of food and basic supplies.
At our exit point on CR651 there is a gas station, and about a half mile north is another strip mall.
Bring toilet paper!!
Interstate 78 to exit 33 (Martinsville Rd./ CR525). North on CR525 to second traffic light. Make right onto Independence Blvd. and left into hotel parking lot. Park near the bridge, walk over the hill to the river.
New Jersey state map and Hagstrom Somerset county map.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)