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Musconetcong River paddle, from Changewater to Bloomsbury, New Jersey

Trip Overview

Had an exciting and rewarding first paddle on the Musconetcong ("Musky"), in my old 14-ft. plastic Dagger Edisto kayak. River runs mostly straight through this scenic farming valley, with views of the east-west ridges on either side. Total 10.6 miles, 1:37 moving time, 6.6 mph avg. Put-in at Changewater with river level at 2.8 ft. (Bloomsbury gage); water was moving fast and immediately had to navigate through the old stone bridge and a short stretch of Class II rapids, fun standing waves but no real hazards (rocks or strainers). In fact, other than a few similar stretches of rapids, the only significant hazard I encountered the entire route was the Asbury Dam (see below). There are numerous fishing weirs, particularly past the dam, with short 1+ drops and standing waves, but they just added some fun. Only encountered one shallow section a few minutes downstream from the dam, so I considered this an ideal water level for an intermediate paddler. The preferred take-out would be at the Rt. 173 bridge access in Bloomsbury, although I went slightly further. At the Asbury Mill dam, it's well worth stopping in at the Musconetcong Watershed Association headquarters, to obtain a copy of their waterways trail guide.
  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Number of Portages: 1
  • Portage Description: At Asbury Mill dam: take-out (with sign) at river right, as you approach the dam on the left. A 250 yard carry up and across the street, straight onto a path ending beyond the old mill spillway.
Always check the water level at the Bloomsbury gage. Changewater put-in not suited for beginners due to bridge and Class II rapids. See notes on the dam and fishing weirs. Past the Asbury dam, numerous private fisheries prohibit landing on their banks so plan accordingly (paddling through is OK). Take-out at Rt. 173 bridge is approx. 1/2 mile above the Bloomsbury dam (center of town).
Usual safety gear, including PFD; plastic kayaks (not fiberglass) recommended.
The 2.8 ft. water level was about ideal, made it fairly fast but manageable. A November, 44 degree day, winds NW14+ made drysuit mandatory. Limited wildlife that day, looking forward to returning in the spring!

Locations on this Trip