Pine Barrens Canoe Trip

October 14, 2012

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

I spent Columbus Day weekend exploring new waters in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Friends that I have met through the Freestyle Canoe community joined together in Atsion, NJ to camp, and canoe four different rivers.  The Pine Barrens is a fascinating eco-type and I am always mesmerized when I visit.

As my friend Bruce commented, “These rivers have similarities, but each has its own character.”  Some were narrow and relatively deep, others shallow and relatively wide.  They are all twisty with lots of stumps and overhanging trees that have to be maneuvered around.  This is where freestyle canoeing techniques really shine.  Understanding how subtle changes in the paddle, or your weight in the canoe can help you maneuver is invaluable.

We passed through alder choked channels, cedar groves, red maple flats, pine covered sand banks, and wide grassy ponds.  One of our friends who had never been to the Pine Barrens, but who has canoe camped extensively, was amazed at the variety.  “I feel like I’m in a Florida swamp.”  “There should be a moose here.”  and  “Wow, are you sure we are in New Jersey?.”  were just some of her comments.

(A red fox visited our campsite one morning.)

(An old wildfire regenerating with pines and scrub oak.)

(Crossing a grassy pond.)

(Eating lunch.  The cedars protected us from rain.)