Canoeing the Hackensack River…but not in HP

The Hackensack River is a 45 mile long river that rises in Rockland County by West Haverstraw and flows into the Deforest Lake Reservoir. The river then flows into the Lake Tappan Reservoir (Old Tappan), runs through Harrington Park and into the Oradell Reservoir and eventually empties into Newark Bay (please look at the previous posting for the map of the Hackensack River Watershed).  As noted on the Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc.  website, “the Public Trust Doctrine holds that all waterways belong to all the people of a society, whether it be for recreation, navigation or sustenance. It is therefore your right to take your own canoe or kayak out on the river and it’s tributaries whenever you like, PROVIDED you access the water from public property (or private property with permission). The exceptions to this rule are the reservoirs of the Hackensack River watershed: Lake DeForest, Lake Tappan, Woodcliff Lake and the Oradell Reservoir.

On Saturday Aug 11 the Hackensack Riverkeeper ran its second Lake Tappan Paddle Day. The Lake Tappan Reservoir was opened to the public for kayaking and canoeing for a morning and an afternoon session. Canoes and kayaks were available for rent, but all of the boats were reserved before the day, as this event has become very popular.

These photos were taken at the Lake Tappan Paddle Day event (amazing how the sky can change and the wind kick up waves on this small lake). The Paddle Day was sponsored by United Water.





It is possible to canoe or kayak on the Oradell Reservoir in June at the annual Reservoir Challenge, a day of paddling, picnicking, and races on the Oradell Reservoir. The 4th event was held this year, with the highlight of the day being the Mayor’s Cup race.

If you are interested in paddling on the Hackensack River, the closest canoe or kayak launch site is in River Edge.

 If you do not have your own watercraft, you can rent one -and go out on the lower Hackensack– at the paddling center at Laurel Hill County Park located at the end of New County Road in Secaucus, NJ, open 9-6pm weekends through the end of October. Self- guided or guided paddle tours are available from the paddling center. (The scenery is fascinating! These photos were taken in September 2011) The Hackensack Riverkeeper also runs Eco-Cruises on a pontoon boat on weekends (through early October) that go upriver to Hackensack, explore the Meadowlands, or cruise down to Newark Bay.

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Finally- there will be a special event- the Hackensack River Paddle on Saturday Sept 8th– departing from Mill Creek Point Park in Secaucus.

For information and reservations, contact
Hugh Carola: 201-968-0808 or or visit the website at


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