Relentless Explorers

Kayaking (Upstream) in the Pine Barrens


Plenty of Things to Explore on the Wading River

By Ken Relentless

07 Jul  2018

The Wading River is one the most paddled rivers in the entire country. It is also one of the easiest and best for novices new to canoeing and kayaking. You can tell this when you see people spinning out of control in the middle of the river, or a few novices in a kayak fleet lose control and create a plastic or aluminum log jam. Sometimes you might even see inexperienced people dump their rented aluminum canoe. Sorry, I just observe and find it a little amusing. Then again, I learned a few things from my wipeout at Weymouth Furnace on another river in 2016...


Well, who says there is nothing to left to explore on the Wading River? There is nothing new, except what you go out of your way to explore. With the other Relentless Explorer working, driving shuttle buses hauling customers for Micks, I could not resist getting out on the river on a really nice July day. And, of course, I took the harder route of paddling upstream from Beaver Branch. Needless to say the downstream current was stronger than it looked, but I paddled hard. My sleek Perception Sport Conduit 13.0 was out for only the second time. As opposed to my Rhythm 10.0 flat bottom kayak, the Conduit 13.0 is a better boat and has better control in fast moving water. I did not set out with any particular goal except to see how far upstream I could paddle. When I came to the Wading River branch that flows from Harrisville Lake, I decided to give that branch a second look. Most people coming down the Wading River do not even realize it is there and simply sail on past it. I was surprised to find that someone was keeping this short branch clear of fallen trees. In fact, I had only two duck-unders on the entire run up to the Route 563 bridge.


As can be seen in the photos there is the large dam beyond this bridge and a smaller one directly in front of me. Both dams exhibit the hydraulic effect, which makes the large dam very dangerous to swim or kayak near. There have been several deaths over the years. Experienced kayakers are familiar with hydraulics on waterfalls in the higher class rapids and they should know how to escape if they get caught in one. Low-head dams like the six inch one directly in front of me can be underestimated depending on the speed of the current and the depth in front. Not wanting to risk possible danger, I stayed well back.


Click on the red location pointers to view the photo pages.