This paddling route brings canoers and kayakers along a little used section of river and through a virtually unknown suburban park.
Tucked in a narrow area between homes and highways, the trail winds past office buildings and homes and through Aquatic Park, which is an undeveloped park with no official accesses points.
The trip starts out on the Pequannock River which flows clear and cool and is considered a NJ Class I trout stream, meaning that it supports a wild trout population.
There aren't many places to stop along the route, being that the shorelines are generally choked with poison ivy, but two rest stops with tables and benches have been created along the west shore of the Pequannock. The route then joins the Pompton River for a short distance, then ascends the Ramapo where you will be paddling against the usually very gentle current.
Fishing for smallmouth bass and pickerel is quite good. There may be some trout, but the wild trout area of the Pequannock is a few miles north.
For a suburban river system, there is a surprising amount of wildlife. Deer are frequently seen along the shore and sharp eyed paddlers might spot several species of owl and hawk, as well as blue heron, yellow crowned night heron and a variety of duck species. Snapping turtles, painted turtles and the rare wood turtle inhabit the route, as do several species of snake. Lucky paddlers might spot a coyote or two on the shore.
Though surprisingly scenic in many spots, the trail also passes near homes, and like many suburban and urban streams, there is plentiful trash along the shore in places. If you are looking for a pristine paddling experience, this isn't the place.
The route is mostly flatwater stream with a few riffles and rocks and overhanging branches that need to be avoided. There are numerous twists, turns and branches along the route. The correct route is clearly marked by signs.
The Three Rivers Trail is 4 miles long if you put in on North Corporate Drive and a tad over 3 if you put in at Joe Grill Field, so it can be completed in a few hours.
No portages are required, but in low water you may need to drag your boat through a few shallow spots
There are no facilities or accommodations along the route.
Put in #1 (Freedom Park) - Route 23 to Newark Pompton Turnpike north. Then a quick right on Riverdale Rd. Turn left onto North Corporate Drive. Park at end of drive and follow signs to a launch area near a small footbridge.
Put in #2 (Joe Grill Field) - Route 23 to Newark Pompton Turnpike north. A quick right on Riverdale Rd. Right on Riverdale Blvd. Make Right onto Willow Street and continue straight to parking at end of drive, past the ballfield.
Take out (Stiles Park) - Route 23 to Newark Pompton Turnpike north. A quick right on Riverdale Rd. Right on Lincoln Ave. Left on Dawes Hwy. Left on Riveredge Dr. Park is on right.
You will need 2 vehicles for this trip. One should be parked at the takeout point at Stiles Park on River Edge Drive in Pompton Lakes (GPS coordinates N40 59.218, W074 16.806).
There are two put ins. One at Joe Grill Field (GPS coordinates N 40 59.045 W 074 17.753), or for a slightly longer trip (an additional 3/4 mile), there is another at Freedom Park the end of North Corporate Drive (at N40 59.481, W 074 17.873)
The put ins are marked by Three Rivers Trail boat launch signs. The drive between the put in and takeout points is only 5 minutes.
Pequannock River Coalition
Newfoundland, NJ 07435
They will provide a map of the paddle trail if you send a self addressed, stamped envelope.
Garden State Canoeing - Edward Gertler