Passaic River (Basking Ridge to Florham Park) (USGS Millington @ 5')

by  njpaddles
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A self-supported trip created by njpaddles

Trip Overview

This trip was completely worthwhile and also one of the most physically draining experiences. Definitely would have benefitted from 1-1.5' more water, and I wouldn't do it again without it higher. Kayak was a plastic Vibe Yellowfin 110, fairly lightweight and short.

Put in at the canoe launch at Lord Stirling Road. Several obstacles (downed trees) and portages between here and Valley Road Bridge. Between Valley Road Bridge and Dead River confluence was very trying. Many downed trees required either portaging or climbing over. After Dead River, some obstacles, but also good long chunks of serene wooded paddling. Saw an owl, two eagles, muskrat, several Heron, and numerous other animals.

Approaching Stirling and Gillette, another long set of obstacles requiring either portaging or tree hopping. Once past Mountain Ave, things really opened up. Most downed trees could be bypassed on water one way or another.

Passaic St bridge had the hardest obstacle. Man made trash collection skirt across the river. No easy way around it on the up river or down river side. Went under the first side on the bank of the river, but that wasn't possible on the down river side. Stood on the float in the obstruction and pulled the boat over.

River really changes as you approach Chatham from a lazy, nature river to a losing much of its elevation. Gets fairly shallow, requiring some bumping and dragging over certain points. Watch out for two small dams in this area.

Past Chatham, it becomes a nature river again. Slow and winding. A couple more obstructions, but nothing like the part near Dead River. Winding from Canoe Brook Reservoir Number 1 and north had no obstructions and was lovely. Got out at Columbia Turnpike.

It was a great day, and a good adventure, but next time I would only go when there's more water. At least 6' on the USGS, maybe 6.5'.

Safety Notes

Trash collection barrier at Passaic Street really prevents getting out easily or getting over easily

Gear Notes

Must have very solid footwear

Plastic boat for dragging over obstacles


Too shallow and a lot of mud. Still an amazing trip for most of the miles, but more water would have helped

Portage Notes

portaged around on land, very muddy

climbed over many trees

shoved through many trees

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 4/24/2021
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Number of Portages: 50

Trip Location