Batsto River – Quaker Bridge to Batsto Lake – 4 Hours
Our most popular Pine Barrens paddling trip is an option for all paddling ability levels. This trip does not include a Pinelands Adventures guide.
The Pinelands Adventures team drives you to the start on the Batsto River at Quaker Bridge about four miles into the Wharton State Forest from our location at Atsion Lake. The Batsto River is a narrow, winding Pine Barrens river with clean cool water and small areas to pull out for a break or picnic. You’ll end with a half mile paddle where the river opens into a lake formed by the dam at Batsto Village.
Trip length is approximately 4-5 hours, based on the average trip length of beginner to intermediate paddlers out for a relaxing paddle. *Changing river conditions such as weather, water levels, underwater obstacles and fallen trees can make this trip moderately challenging depending upon the paddler’s level of experience and physical condition.
This trip does not include a Pinelands Adventures guide. Link to Guided Canoeing/ Kayaking Trips if you are interested in trips that include a Pinelands Adventures guide.
On the Batsto River Quaker Bridge Trip, within the greater Batsto Natural area, you are canoeing in one of the most remote places in New Jersey. This specific trip, beginning at the historic site of Quaker Bridge, leads you through a dense forest of Pitch Pine, Red Maple, and Atlantic White Cedar to the colonial village of Batsto. This feudal-inspired company town is where iron was once produced from the ore that was mined out of local bogs and rivers, supplying the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War with cannon balls and iron tools.
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Along the way, you have the chance to see many aquatic and terrestrial species and a variety of specialized habitats. If you paddle silently, you could be greeted with the sight of deer and turkey, blue heron and wood ducks, a variety of warblers and other passerines, and potentially even the secretive Barred Owl. Grey fox sometimes makes an appearance along the edges of these remote cedar swamps, to show a rare glimpse of the remarkable patterns of their fur coat. If you are very lucky, you may even glimpse a beaver out in late daylight hours, or luckier still, a river otter making its way from one fishing area to another. Turtles are a common sight along the Batsto, sunning themselves on logs just above the water’s surface. Quietness is a virtue when viewing wildlife, and if you keep your distance with a pair of binoculars, the Painted, Red-bellied, or Spotted turtles may stay long enough to allow a detailed glimpse. Dragonflies and damselflies are agile creatures that may even land upon the bow of your canoe or kayak for a short rest before continuing on their search for prey. If you aren’t a fan of mosquitos, a healthy dragonfly population is a welcomed sign in wetlands of the Pines.
Throughout the season, you have the chance to see a variety of flowering plants. In early spring, the white and purple Lance Leaved Violet begins to show itself along the banks. The yellow spike of golden club emerges from the surface of slow moving areas of the river to indicate the coming season. Deeper into the forest, you may see Sand Myrtle and Pixie in the dryer upland areas. Moving into May, the star-flower (Trientalis borealis), begins to show itself in the swamps and low lying areas adjacent to the river. Pink Lady Slipper orchid (Cypripedium acaule) also begins to bloom in May and early June, producing a great flower akin to a small shoe. Slender Blue Flag (Iris prismatica), produce a large and showy blue flower and is very common along the banks of the Pinelands Rivers. In mid- June, Pickerel Weed will begin to bloom in shallow, protected waters in the river bed and Teaberry (Gaultheria Procumbens) flowers on the upland areas adjacent to the river before producing its tasty berry later on in the season.
If staying overnight in one of the area campsites, one will certainly be greeted with the sounds of evening forest in the Pines. Spring Peepers, Carpenter Frogs, Owls, and Whippoorwills. At night and during early morning hours, you may also hear the calls of Eastern Coyotes communicating with one another. With a bit of forethought a camper can gather many blueberries during late June, July, and early August from the edges of the water, saving them for morning pancakes or just a quick snack along the way. In the fall cranberries ripen along the riverbanks, serving the same purpose for snacking and pancakes, albeit with a flavor more of the sour and tart variety.
Trip begins at Pinelands Adventures headquarters.