Splitrock Reservoir Kayak

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Splitrock Reservoir

Incredibly scenic reservoir ringed by hills and rock cliffs, with several islands.

Explore rocky shorelines reminiscent of areas further northeast.

We landed on one of the many islands and had a lovely picnic lunch. The island was big enough that there was a path around it.

Wildlife: We’ve spotted lots of herons and even a trio of beavers swimming by – a first for us.

Our two cents:

Gorgeous destination, very enjoyable paddle, and some of the best kayaking in New Jersey but with a launch area that makes you work for it. Limited parking. (See notes below).

Fun Fact: Though often spelled “Split Rock Reservoir”, it is actually one word – “Splitrock“. The road it is on is “Split Rock”.

Bonus: Nice hiking too: see Splitrock Reservoir Loop and Four Birds Trail.

Updated: 8/2020 – Re-kayaked. 4/2020: Page refreshed, not re-kayaked. 7/2019: Launch area changes are done, photos added. 4/2018: The launch area was under construction the last time we hiked Splitrock.

Paddle Boards: We spotted a sign stating these are NOT allowed (as of 8/2020).

Splitrock is surrounded by hills and has a very rocky shoreline.

Splitrock Reservoir
Splitrock Reservoir
Rocky shoreline

Sometimes it almost seems more like paddling somewhere like Maine rather than New Jersey.

Tall rock face at the shore of a lake with two kayaks

There is a large island roughly in the middle of the reservoir that we usually go to the right of it when heading out. That side is narrower and has more plants and trees to navigate around.

Splitrock Reservoir

Overall: The first half is more open and tends to have more boats. The further half of the reservoir is the most interesting because it’s dotted with islands.

The very end can get thick with lilypads but this last time (8/2020) we could have gotten all the way to land on shore.

Splitrock Reservoir

Views from one of the islands.

View from an island on Splitrock Reservoir
View from an island on Splitrock Reservoir
Stopping on an island on Splitrock Reservoir

Lots of lily pads around the islands… mostly white but a few pink ones in the mix:

Low water level, 2015.

Low water levels on Splitrock Reservoir

Launch

There are two launch areas, each with floating docks. The one closer to the parking lot is on a incline that is stepped down to the dock:

Path to Splitrock kayak launch

There is a bay on either side of the dock to set a boat in. Sit in and use the sides to pull yourself (and the boat) into the water.

We didn’t even get our feet wet. Reverse the process to get out.

Kayak in a floating dock launch

The second dock is at the end of a longer but more gradual gravel path.

Kayak set in floating launch

This dock seen from the water:

Splitrock kayak dock seen from the water

We tried both to see if we had a preference and either was fine for us. The closer one is likely intended for hand carry, and the longer path for those with wheels.

If you are interested in what the launch area used to look like, see “Kayaking Splitrock Reservoir in July“.

Details

Miles:

We’ve done 7.1 which is pretty much the whole perimeter.

Size:

625 acres.

Parking: 40.96252, -74.45800

Split Rock Road, Rockaway , NJ 07866. No street number, a dirt lot off of Split Rock Rd.

This often fills up and if it is, you are out of luck…. only park in the lot, you will get ticketed if you park along the road.

From the south: 287N to exit 43, at the end of the ramp turn left, then right onto Fanny Rd to Powerville, left on Valley, right on Rockaway Valley, stay left onto Split Rock and follow to parking lot. 

From the south, alternate: 287N to Rt 80 W to exit 37 for Rt 513/Green Pond Rd. Right on Meridian. Left on Lyonsville. Left onto Split Rock Rd to parking lot.

If you are traveling from elsewhere the exit may be different, so you’ll want to check directions from where you are. Split Rock road seemed to be in good shape 8/2020 was full of decent sized potholes 4/2018.

Restroom:

Portable toilet in the parking lot, as of 8/2020. The Fanny Road route doesn’t offer much in the way of restroom possibilities.

If you don’t want to chance the toilet not being there or prefer a real bathroom… use the alternate Rt. 80 route for gas stations and a Dunkin once getting on 513.

Book:

Quiet Water New Jersey, Trip #6

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.

For general info, check out our Kayaking in NJ page.

Kayaked 8/6/20. 7.1 miles. w/ the new yaks.
Kayaked 7/27/19. 6.6 miles. Trail Blog: “Kayaking Splitrock Reservoir in July”

Kayaked 8/20/16. 7.1 miles.
Kayaked 9/6/15. 6.7 miles.