Who would have ever thought you only had to travel to the small South Jersey town of Port Republic to go back in time? OK..so we didn't really go back in time, but for a few hours on the Nacote Creek, it sure felt like life slowed down a bit.
7 of us paddlers from Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association launched into the Bass River at New Gretna at about 10:40 am. Our day trippers included myself, Eric, Steve F, Mike G, Dan M and Chuck and Joyce A in their very long tandem. Air temp felt a bit brisk at 54 with winds at about 5 kt out of the NE.
We took a nice relaxing pace down the Bass River and finally into the Mullica where we crossed about a mile and made our way into the Nacote Creek (pronounced Nuh-COAT-ee). The entrance to the creek had a rustic style, and was somewhat reminiscent of a small New England fishing village (even though it's slightly less than a 30 minute ride from the hustling and bustling action of Atlantic City). After meandering a bit we made our way under the new Rt 9 Bridge. The shoreline was lined mostly with forest in addition to some scattered homes and the Stockton State College Marine Science Field Station.
A few miles up the creek, Joyce had a very keen eye and spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree on the well forested eastern shoreline. We all stopped paddling to admire the majestic bird who seemed unfazed by us. I snapped a few digital pics but the zoom wasn't powerful enough to really give the view justice. It was beautiful through our binoculars however. On the western shore we spotted what looked like a young great Blue Heron.
After a short while we paddled under an old rotting revolving bridge at Port Republic Road. We paddled past a few large homes on the creek and one with a playful black lab which came partially into the water and barked loudly as we passed by.
In the distance we could see a freshly painted white church spire ascending high above the tree line to the west and this large church appeared to be the tallest structure in the town. We eventually made our way to the end of the navigable creek where a dam holds the water back for Mill Pond in the town of Port Republic. At this end was a small beach and park where we decided to land for lunch, after paddling 7 miles.
We had lunch at a picnic table in an area shaded by a few trees in this little park. In a field behind us, as we ate, there was a small town baseball game being played. After lunch I scouted a nice launch site which I added to our kayak launch site directory and snapped some pictures of a very unusual cloud formation in the skies above.
Although we meandered down the creek with some help from the ebbing tide, we paddled into a headwind which made the return trip a bit more rigorous at times. On the way back I stopped to take some pictures of some curious horses on the shore of a very nice farm before catching up with the rest of the group making their way back out to the Mullica River.
The waters of the mighty Mullica were churning a bit more than before and made for a playful crossing of our Mullica Mile. We finally made our way into the entrance of the Bass River and all landed safely after 14.7 miles of paddling.
**Although we paddled to Nacote Creek from the Bass River for a 14+ mile round trip, those who prefer an easier/shorter beginner trip on the more sheltered waters of the creek can launch at the park in Port Republic near the dam at Mill Pond. It's only 4.5 miles from the Mill Pond Dam out to the mouth of the Mullica River but there are a few little streams you can paddle into and explore. There's enough area to paddle on just the Nacote Creek to provide a full day of paddling.**
Restrooms (open in season), shaded picnic tables and children's playground near launch site
FROM THE NORTH:
Garden State Parkway South to Exit 48 (Port Republic). Take Rt 9 south slightly less than 1 mile and bear right onto Rt 575. Stay on Rt 575 for almost 3 miles and make left at the park onto Park Ave. Road bends to the right along the creek where there is parking and the sandy beach area to launch.
FROM THE SOUTH:
Rt 9 North into Absecon and Oceanville. At 3 way fork shortly past the Marriot Seaview Resort, make Left onto Port Republic Rd and stay on for 3.7 miles. After you drive over the Nacote Creek Bridge, make the first left onto Rt 575 and then the 2nd left onto Park Ave. Road bends to the right along the creek where there is parking and the sandy beach area to launch.