The 2500 acres that make up NJ’s largest lake can be intimidating to paddlers. The over abundance of large motor boats can scare away even experienced kayakers. But there are still very enjoyable venues , even at the height of the summer season. The simple answer is to find a quiet place. Two of my favorites are the “Upper Hopatcong Canals” and the Landing Channel. Both are No Wake zones.
The entrance to the Canals (originally known as Hurd Creek) can be found to the right after passing under Brady’s Bridge when heading toward Woodport from the Main Lake. Main Lake Market is a convenient departure point. There’s some development, and few interesting bridges but for the most part, it’s just you and nature. A variety of birds (ducks, geese, Heron, Egrets etc.) are typically found as well as turtles and frogs. It runs about .75 miles from the entrance to the falls at Lake Rogerene. You actually go under the Rt. 15 bridges to get to the very end. You’ll only make it that far, if the water level is pretty high.
The Landing Channel is also a No Wake zone, although it’s typically busier than the Canals. Stay to the west side of the channel for more interesting terrain and wildlife. You’ll pass the floating island on the western shore. Paddle all the way to Landing and you can come ashore at the rehabbed little park and go to Lakes End Deli, or Cambiotti’s for a snack.
These two excursions are my favorites during the day, but nothing beats a moonlight paddle. Plan your outing within a few days of the full moon and it can be spectacular. You’ll need a decent flashlight for signally , just in case you encounter a motorboat that doesn’t see you. Stay near the western shore as the moon comes up, make sure that you have a significant other with you and you’ll have a romantic evening to remember.
John Deermount and his wife, Cindy, chair the LHYC Paddlers Club.