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Canoeing & Kayaking

190 Lord Stirling Rd, Basking Ridge, NJ
908 722-1200 Ext. 5002   EEC Home Page


The Somerset County Park Commission offers a variety of canoeing and kayaking opportunities to stimulate awareness and understanding of the environment, build an appreciation of New Jersey waterways, and promote interest in canoeing and kayaking.

Although paddling programs are currently canceled due to COVID-19, below is a sample of programs offered each year.

Come enjoy fantastic times on the river with our enthusiastic, experienced Naturalist/river guides. Our dedicated and professional guides are sure to provide you with a super river experience! We offer everything from easy, relaxing flat water to more adventurous beginner whitewater. No matter what you choose, your river memories with us will be sure to last a lifetime!

All canoeing and kayaking programs are designed for adults and families with children age seven and older for canoeing and age ten and older for kayaking. Children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a registered adult. Attendance of introductory programs is mandatory and required prior to participating in canoe or kayak trips. A person may register for his/her own household only. Program registrations are not transferable to other individuals or households.

After a "splashing" time at this introductory canoe class, you will learn the basic paddling techniques, safety aspects of canoeing, and handling a canoe in and out of the water. This program offers an opportunity for adults and children, ages seven and older, to learn to canoe. An adult must accompany children under the age of 15. Each canoe can accommodate two paddlers and a child passenger. Classes will take place on Branta Pond at the Environmental Education Center. All equipment will be provided.

This introductory kayaking class will teach you the basic paddling techniques, safety aspects of kayaking, and handling a kayak in and out of the water. This program offers an opportunity for adults and children, ages ten and older, to learn to kayak. An adult must accompany children under the age of 15. Participants will use solo kayaks. Classes will take place on Branta Pond at the Environmental Education Center. All equipment will be provided.

Kayak Pool Training Session
During this required session, you will learn how to successfully wet exit your kayak. You will also practice getting in and out of the kayak from the pool deck, as well as the water. Please wear a bathing suit, bring a towel, and be prepared to get completely wet.

Canoe and Kayak Trips

Although paddling programs are currently canceled due to COVID-19, below is a sample of programs offered each year.

All trips will be for both canoes and kayaks together (Canyak) or just kayaks. The trips are intended for beginner to intermediate paddlers. Prior participation in one of our CAN-U-CANNU or KAN-U-KAYAK classes is required. Children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by a registered adult and both child and adult(s) must take the appropriate pre-requisite classes. Boats, equipment, transportation, and leadership are provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own equipment, at their own risk; however, there is no reduction in price. A review of basic canoeing and/or kayaking techniques and river safety begins each trip, then onto the water for an exciting educational experience. All return times are approximate. Duration and degree of difficulty of the trips are listed in ascending order and river trips are also rated using our system below. Due to possible low water conditions, there may be changes in destinations or cancellations. Trips will run unless dangerous or threatening weather occurs and participants will be notified in a timely manner.

Please read and review the following considerations PRIOR to registering for a river trip:

 Please wear appropriate paddling clothing that can get wet and/or dirty - non-cotton, synthetic, quick-drying fabrics are best. Please also wear proper foot attire – closed-toed shoes that are attached to your foot. Flip flops, clogs, slides, and slip-ons are NOT allowed!

 We reserve the right to deny a participant entry into a program if we deem the participant is not physically fit, does not match the skill level of the program or is ill-prepared. A participant will be turned away the day of the trip if the criteria listed here are not met.

 It is the participant's responsibility to consult the ratings listed below for each trip and match their skills accordingly. Come expecting to get wet on all trips!


A. Good for beginners and families
B. Must negotiate some easy river turns
C. A few portages
D. Continual paddling for several hours
E. Must negotiate many quick river turns
F. Must paddle in open water & be able to handle wind, waves, tide
G. Prior wet exit with a skirt required
H. Must handle easy whitewater rapids and negotiate rocks
I. Danger – cold water! Please bring a full change of clothes in a waterproof bag.
J. Half day or less trip – please bring snack, drink, towel and full change of clothes
    (including underwear, socks, shoes)
K. Full day trip – please bring lunch, snacks, drink, towel and full change of clothes
    (including underwear, socks, shoes)
L. Will stop for ice cream on our return to the EEC
M. Prior participation in at least two, 4-miles or less river trips

Early Birds Paddle
2 miles Rating: A, B, C, J
Rise and shine! Start your day with a quiet paddle on the Passaic. See swamp sights before the day gets busy. This paddle will help you get centered for beginning your day!

Full Moon Paddle
2 miles Rating: A, F, J
Enjoy the EEC and Branta Pond after dark as we paddle our canoes or kayaks by the light of the full moon! Find out what the Great Swamp sounds and feels like once the sun has set. Perhaps we will hear owls or see bats? Bring a flashlight or headlight if you have one.

Passaic Paddle
3 miles Rating: A, B, C, J
The Passaic River winds through the Great Swamp basin, flowing through floodplain forest, and many unique wetland habitats. We will paddle this gentle river, home to turtles, herons, frogs, and fish.

Delaware & Raritan Canal Paddle
4 miles Rating: A, D, J, L
Quiet, peaceful, and still, the D & R Canal is an ideal place for a relaxing paddle. Cruising along, we will enjoy the sights and sounds the waterway has to offer.

A Paddling Afternoon
4 miles Rating: A, B, D, F, J
Join us on some of the best local backwaters of New Jersey for a relaxing afternoon paddle. Our destination depends on water level but may include Cranberry Lake, Black River, Rockaway River, Swartswood Lake or somewhere else! Bring money (cash) for dinner.

Reservoir Dogs
4 miles Rating: A, B, C, F, H, M, N
Check out this series for exploration of the different reservoirs that the tri-state area has to offer!! We will spend half the day paddling our boats in the reservoir. Then after lunch, strap on your boots for an afternoon of hiking and birding. Please bring a bag lunch, binoculars, and money for ice cream.

Pine Barrens Paddle
4-10 miles Rating: B, C, D, E, K, L, M
Pine Barrens streams offer some of the best paddling in the state! Enjoy pristine, tea-colored streams through old cranberry bogs, rich wetland meadows, and pitch pine forest. The river destination will be determined by water level.

All Day on the Water - NEW
4-10 miles Rating: B, C, D, E, K, L, M
Join us for a great day of paddling! The location will be the Naturalist's choice - maybe a reservoir, maybe a lake? Pack up your stuff and get ready for an adventurous day on the water!

Abbott Marshlands Meander *(formerly known as Trenton Marsh Meander)*
5 miles Rating: A, B, D, F, K, M
Barely one mile away from our state capital’s golden dome sits a beaver lodge in the quiet wetlands of the Abbott Marshlands. This large expanse of woodlands, tidal marsh, and streams has a rich history of human habitation. We will paddle into the marsh with the incoming tide, take a walk at Roebling Park and catch the outgoing tide back to Bordentown Beach.

Whitewater Beginnings
5-10 miles Rating: B, D, E, G, H, I, K, M
(Adults and children 15 years and older)
Are you ready to take your kayaking skills to the next level? Then join us for some fun Class I-II whitewater and be prepared to work the river! We will practice eddy turns, peel outs, ferries, wet exits, and surfing. You will learn how to read the river and negotiate your way through rapids and around rocks. Depending on water levels, we will travel to the Upper Delaware, the Lower Lehigh or elsewhere.

Sedge Island Getaway Weekend
1-5+ miles Rating: D, F, L, M
(All Ages, 12 years and older with parent)
Take a weekend trip to Barnegat’s undiscovered Sedge Island off Island Beach State Park. Enjoy safe kayaking around the bay, seining to capture marsh creatures, snorkeling, clamming, crabbing, fishing or just relax by birdwatching, reading or watching the sunrise or set at the Sedge House! Overnight accommodations are twin bunkrooms and you must be willing to share a room with participants of the same gender. All equipment, transportation, interpretation, and meals are included.

Public Programs
    • January Programs
    • February Programs
    • March Programs
    • April Programs
    • May Programs
    • June Programs
    • July Programs
    • August Programs
    • September Programs
    • October Programs
    • November Programs
    • December Programs
Specialty Programs
    • Birding
    • Birthday Parties
    • Canoe & Kayak
    • Cross Country Skiing
    • Family Program Series
    • Forest Fitness
    • Garden Discovery
    • Libraries, Senior Centers &
      Other Groups
    • Maple Sugaring
    • Other Day Trips & Overnight Trips
    • Scouts
    • Summer Camps
    • Workshops

School Programs
    • Field Trips
    • In School Programs
    • Biomimicry Programs
    • School Program Guide
Trips & Outings
    • Birding
    • Canoe & Kayak
    • Garden Discovery
    • Other Day Trips & Overnight Trips
    • 1770s Festival
    • By the Light of the Moon
    • Live Animal Show
    • County Caper
    • Events
    • Family Program Series
    • Festival of Trees
    • Swamp Search
    • Temporary Exhibits
Program Calendars
Calendar (PDF)
Trails & Facilities
    • Room Rentals 
    • Auditorium
    • Biomimicry STEM Lab
    • Discovery Room
    • Pond View Room
    • The Tree House
    • EEC Brochure
    • Gift Shop/Library
    • The Great Swamp Experience
    • Temporary Exhibits
    • Trail Map

  Volunteers are needed and appreciated throughout the year. Please contact
Gretchen Rotondo at 908 722-1200 ext.5323 or email your completed application and waiver to

Volunteer Application for Adult
Volunteer Application for Minor
   Volunteer Waiver for Adults
   Volunteer Waiver for Minors/Dependents

Corporate Volunteer Groups please contact Daniel Ross at 908 722-1200 ext.5336 or


Hours & Directions
The building is open 9am-5pm daily.
Exhibits are open 9am-4:30pm daily.
Registration is accepted 9am-4:30pm daily.
The building is closed on Holidays.
Trails are open dawn to dusk daily but closed on Deer Management days as scheduled.

 Click here for Directions
Donations & Sponsorship

Donations are gladly accepted.
Please make checks payable to:
The Somerset County Park Commission
and mail to Carrie Springer,
190 Lord Stirling Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

Support Packet

Ask A Naturalist


Have a question about a plant or animal species you saw in Lord Stirling Park or northern New Jersey?

One of our naturalists can help you! Complete the form and an EEC staff member will do their best to solve your nature mysteries!

On-line Registration