D&R Canal Kayak – Blackwells Mills

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D&R Kayak - Blackwells Mills

Calm paddling in a long, narrow canal along a towpath.

The “main” canal of the Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal State Park follows along a towpath from New Brunswick, N.J to Trenton (The “feeder” portion then continues on to Frenchtown, next to the Delaware River).

Our two cents:

Very easy paddling with nearly no current makes this good for beginners or a relaxing paddle. Tons of turtles and usually a Great Blue Heron or two.

Some road noise in sections where the road runs nearby. Canoe/kayak rental is available in the area.

There generally is a decent amount of shade, but where the canal is wider it can be sunny.

This is just one of several launch points along the length of the canal, plus you can choose to go in either direction. Use a two-car shuttle to go further without having to out-and-back it.

Bridges and locks determine the available distance along the canal, though you could portage around them or limbo under bridges if the water level allows.

Paddling south towards Griggstown offers the longer of the two directions from this launch, but either is a nice paddle. We haven’t felt the need to extend in either direction, so we have not tried to shimmy under any of the bridges.

NOTE: A dredging project may still be in progress. This may close the canal towards Griggstown or towards Amwell Road. See www.njwsa.org for current status.

Bridge at Blackwells Mills

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Blackwells Mills launch, for heading south to Griggstown – it’s hard to tell, but the water level is about a foot down from the towpath, and not a gradual slope:

Launch at Blackwells Mills
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The towpath with a bike rider is visible on the right:

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Approaching the bridge at Griggstown.

D&R Kayak - Blackwells Mills

On the way back…

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Bridge at Blackwells Mills.

Details

Miles available:

  • 7.2 – Roundtrip south – Blackwells Mills to Griggstown.
  • 4.3 – Roundtrip north – Blackwells Mills to Amwell Road

Possibly extend the trip if the water is low enough to limbo under bridges.

Parking/launch: N40.47525° W74.57275°

The lot is on Blackwells Mills road, not far from the intersection with Canal Road, and is reached by various back roads so it’s best get online directions from your location.

Launch from the west side of the bridge, on either side of the road depending on the direction of paddling – north or south.

The lot is a decent size but popular and may fill up. It has a lot of turn-around, however, as many people come for short walks along the canal.

Requires a short carry down a path from the lot to the canal, or briefly park on the side of the road and drop the kayak at the launch site.

A potential alternative is to park in the Six Mile Run lot nearby, on Canal Road.

No dock, ramp, or gradual shoreline – plop the kayak in the water and step down from the shore.

There are a few rocks and roots that get in the way of holding the kayak flush against the edge, and it helps to have someone hold the boat while you step in.

Park Info/maps:

Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park

D&R Canal site

Size:

Average depth: 10’

Restroom:

Porta-john in the parking lot.

Book:

Quiet Water New Jersey, Trip # 20

Note: Quiet Water New Jersey is available as an online Kindle book but sadly the print version is no longer available – other than used copies that are generally going for absurd prices for some reason.

An option is “AMC’s Quiet Water Mid-Atlantic” from 2018 which contains 13 of the 52 ones in the New Jersey-only book.

Nearby:

Carnegie Lake Kayak; Farrington Lake Kayak.

For general info, check out our Kayaking NJ page.

Kayaked 7/17/16 – 7.2 miles. Blackwell Mills to Griggstown
Kayaked 8/10/14 – 7.0 miles. Blackwell Mills to Griggstown
Kayaked 7/5/14 – 4.3 miles. Blackwell Mills to Amwell Rd.