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Lehigh River at White Haven
This is the put-in for the “Upper” half or Section I of the Lehigh River Gorge. Class II and some Class III rapids. Experience and complete whitewater equipment are required. First timers will want to go with someone who knows the river. See American Whitewater write-up here for a detailed description and map of this section. The next access point is Rockport, about 9 miles downriver.
When you get to the White Haven put-in, look for the dirt road at the back end of the White Haven Market strip mall parking lot. Pass the bike rental shop and continue to the river access parking lot. You will carry your boat and gear down the access road on the left to the river, right underneath the I-80 bridge. Site has porta potties, no other conveniences.
Lehigh River at Rockport
This is the put-in for the “Lower” or Section II of the Lehigh River Gorge. Class II and Class III rapids. Experience and complete whitewater equipment are required. First timers will want to go with someone who knows the river. See American Whitewater write-up here for a detailed description maps of this section. The next access point is Glen Onoko, about 12.5 miles downriver.
Park in the paved lot at the end of the access road if there is space. If not, park in one of the overflow areas — on the grass to the left of the road before you reach the paved lot. You can drive down the steep road from the lot to the river to drop off your boat. Rangers are usually on duty directing traffic. Access to the river itself is by a steep staircase from the lower lot to the water. There are rudimentary bathrooms on the site.
Lehigh River at Glen Onoko
This is a popular put-in for easier and shorter runs on the Lehigh. Known as Section III of the Lehigh Gorge, there are Class I Class II rapids and numerous places to take out. Experience and complete whitewater equipment are required. First timers will want to go with someone who knows the river. See American Whitewater write-up here for a description of this section to Bowmanstown.
When you get to the access area, cross the bridge and follow the one-way signs to the kayak put-in area, just past the rest rooms and down a drive to the left. Unload your gear and then drive the car back up the hill to the nearest available parking spot. The lower lot is for buses only. Rudimentary bathrooms on site.
Lehigh River at Jim Thorpe
This a popular place to start an easy paddle with multiple take-out options to make a short or longer trip. Class I and II rapids with numerous slow stretches.
In Jim Thorpe enter the large municipal parking lot just north of the railroad station and across the railroad tracks. There is a wide path down to the river toward the north end of the lot – a left turn from the lot entrance. Whitewater equipment is required for club trips. There are no facilities at the launch site, but there are public restrooms in the train station.
Lehigh River at Lehighton (Dunbars)
Dunbars is a handy place to end a trip from Glen Onoko or Jim Thorpe. Downstream from here the going is slow and easy. Dunbars itself is a good place to play and practice technique where the river runs between a pair of bridge pilings next to the parking area.
Follow the Google map directions to Dunbars bottling in Lehighton. Slowly follow the road that runs in front of Dunbars into the woods. It’s rutted and sometimes has a lot of standing water on it. The parking area is all river stone. At peak flows, the lot will flood.
Lehigh River at Marvin Gardens
We use this spot for playtime and training. There’s a mix of deeper, slow moving water just below some mild rapids good for basic whitewater skills work. If you’re coming across the bridge from Route 145 at Bowmanstown, you’ll see a small park on the right. Make a hard right just after the park and you can drive down to a gravel launch area by the water. There’s a parking lot in the park. No facilities here, but if you paddle downstream to the Bowmanstown launch, about three-quarters of a mile, there are bathrooms there. The paddle back up against the current builds character.
Lehigh River at Bowmanstown
This is a great place to start a lazy drift when the river isn’t too low. Occasional mild rapids to the Lehigh Gap access. The river becomes more difficult beyond that point.
Watch for the sign on the left to find the large parking lot at Riverview Park. The boat launch is at the opposite end of the lot. Picnic tables and a porta potty on site.
Lehigh River at Lehigh Gap
This is the put-in for “The Ledges,” a short but fun stretch of water with lots of places to practice surfing. Full whitewater equipment required. The rapids aren’t difficult, but the water is shallow and the bottom rocky.
The put-in is right next to the Route 873 bridge, with a separate parking area near the launch ramp for boaters. Just a bit further up the access road is the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, where we hold some club meetings. No facilities at the launch site, but there is a porta potty at the Nature Center.
Lehigh River at Walnutport
This access is most commonly used as the takeout after runs through The Ledges. From this point on down, the Lehigh doesn’t get above Class I rapids, but there are dams that present real dangers.
This is a new lot with a concrete boat ramp. You’ll see it on the right just after you turn onto Lehigh Street. Launching is easy, but if coming ashore here be prepared to deal with some current. No facilities at ramp, but there is a porta-potti nearby at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
Lehigh River at Treichlers
There’s lots of parking and a paved ramp, right next to the Route 145 bridge over the river. To find it, look for the D&L Trail Cove Road Trailhead sign on the east side of 145 at the north end of Laury’s Station. This is a good takeout, but the water is usually very shallow at the ramp. If you launch here, be aware that the Northampton dam is 4.25 miles downstream and extremely dangerous. No facilities at the launch area.
Lehigh River - Allentown Canal Park
This is a good place to do an easy loop, drifting down to Bethlehem and then paddling back on the canal. Or with a shuttle, you can run all the way to the Route 33 take-out. If you use the canal, you’ll have to portage in Bethlehem to switch from river to canal, and again to get around the remains of a canal lock about halfway back. Expect poison ivy in the summer. Mid summer the river can be low scrapy in some spots. There are bathrooms in Canal Park.
When you enter the park area, turn left and then keep to the right. There is an old concrete ramp into the river at the far end of the lower parking area.
Lehigh River - Bethlehem Sand Island
This is the most popular place to launch for an easy drift down to the Route 33 take-out. When you cross the bridge onto Sand Island, turn right and drive under the Hill-to-Hill Bridge and then the low railroad bridge. Just after the second bridge you’ll see the boat ramp on the left, and just past it, an open parking area on the right. No facilities.
Lehigh River - Route 33
This is a river put-in, but there is no whitewater. The Route 33 ramp dips into the Lehigh behind the Chain Dam, so the water is very slow moving. It’s easy to paddle back to the ramp. You can usually paddle about three miles upstream and always one mile downstream to the dam. The approach to the dam is clearly marked — stay well away from the edge. But without danger you can paddle all the way around the big island that stretches downstream from just below the ramp. Look carefully, and you’ll find a small inlet at the north east end of the island. This narrow waterway leads into the “lagoon,” a big marshy pond in the middle of the island. There used to be an amusement park here, now it’s all grown over. There is a porta-potti by the parking lot.
The Google directions work, but you’ll have to trust them. As you drive down Hope Road look for a gravel turnout on the left. There’s a very beat-up sign pointing to the boat ramp. Follow this dirt road to the parking lot.
The Little Lehigh in the Allentown Parkway is a fun play spot that can be paddled almost any time of the year. It’s also where the club holds the Larry March Slalom every September. This is the best place for paddlers new to moving water to practice what they’ve learned in the winter pool classes. The water is shallow, although there is one spot deep enough to practice rolling.
Study the map carefully, because there is no signage to get you to the parking lot, and the roads around the Allentown Parkway can be confusing. Access is at the end of Park Drive off S. 24th Street/Oxford Drive. Follow the narrow lane as far as you can down the hill. Once there, it’s best to walk your boat upstream about 100 yards and gradually work your way back down and past the parking area. A series of gabions maintained by the club creates some short chutes and eddies. Depending on the water level, the paddler and the boat, this stretch can sometimes be paddled upstream. There are park bathrooms a short walk in either direction from the parking lot.
Delaware River at Phillipsburg
This is a long-time favorite — a very gentle run down to Riegelsville. There are a couple of spots where you may get splashed, but this section is easily done in rec and touring boats. The take-out is across the river from Riegelsville, the ramp at Milford just beyond the Riegelsville bridge.
The address is 2 Riverside Drive, Phillipsburg, NJ. The launch ramp is down a drive below the parking lot that runs behind the businesses along Main Street. You can enter the lot on the left just after you cross the bridge from Easton. There’s room to drop off gear, turn around and bring your vehicle back up to the parking lot. Porta-potty on site, numerous eateries in the neighborhood.
Delaware River at Milford (Riegelsville)
This is a relatively new river access, with a paved ramp and a floating dock. Kayaks and canoes can also be launched and retrieved on the beachy area just upstream from the ramp, and carried directly to the parking area on a short but steep path.
This launch ramp can be tricky to find. The address is 2 Old River Road, Milford, NJ. If you are traveling south on Reigelsville Milford Road, look for the right turn onto Old River Road just after the bridge over the Musconetcong River — which itself looks more like a creek. Old River Road passes under a railroad bridge. The entrance to the parking area is on the right just beyond the bridge. Porta-potty on site.
Delaware River at Lambertville (Wing Dam)
The launch is on a very slow pool of water that runs about a quarter mile downstream to the wing dam. The area by the ramp, between Lambertville on the New Jersey side and New Hope on the Pennsylvania side, can be handled in any boat. But as soon as the river cuts through the opening at the center of the dam, it becomes a complex whitewater play area. This is a great place to develop skills, but the first-timer should go with someone who knows the area. Full whitewater gear is required. It is possible to attain back up to the back of the dam, haul your boat over it, and paddle back to the launch. The level of difficulty varies with the river level.
To find the launch ramp, enter the parking lot for the Lambertville Station Inn, right next to the bridge to New Hope. Drive through the lot and around the left side of the building at the back of the lot. Follow the road that starts here to the parking area by the ramp. The address is 3 Station Court, Lambertville, NJ. Flush toilets and running water on site.
Delaware River at Scudders
The attraction at Scudders is one wave that’s almost always running strongly enough to play on. Like the Wing Dam, it’s also a play spot that doesn’t require a shuttle. You can walk your boat back to the parking area. Full whitewater gear required. There is a huge eddy next to the wave that usually makes recovery easy, but if equipment gets away from you, it can be lost.
The address is 3 Bernard Drive, Ewing Township, N.J. The entrance to Scudders is a narrow bridge over the Delaware and Raritan Canal. If traveling south on Route 29, keep right where the road splits as you approach the I-95 intersection. Just after the split, turn right onto the bridge. There is a parking area just across the canal, but for river access, follow the drive down the hill to the right until the road widens into the lower parking lot. Launch next to the parking lot and paddle along the shoreline 500 feet downstream and you’ll drop into the wave. Porta-potty at the upper parking lot.
Flow in the Mongaup is limited to releases from the Rio Dam just upstream from the put-in. But when it runs, the creek offers a great ride that ends too soon, where the stream empties into the Delaware River. It’s a good drive from the Lehigh Valley, but worth the miles. Class II+ rapids. Read the American Whitewater write-up here. Full whitewater equipment required. This is not a run for beginners, and intermediate paddlers should go with someone who is familiar with the run.
The put-in area is very tight and has few parking spots, so the club always meets here, at the take-out and leaves most of the cars in this lot.
Use this map to find the put-in for the Mongaup. Either drop off your equipment here and take your car back to the take-out lot, or meet others at the take-out and put as many boats and people in each vehicle as is possible to limit traffic at the top of the run, where space is tight. See “Mongaup, takeout” above for information on the paddling.
The address is 274 Rio Dam Road, Glen Spey, N.Y. But as you drive up Rio Dam Road, look for Crane Springs Road and Power House Road, both dirt roads that start together on the right. Turn off Rio Dam Road and then immediately turn left to get onto Power House Road. There is a sign. Follow the road until it ends at the parking lot. Drive very slowly, there are a few houses along the way. You may also encounter a Rio Dam employee. Stop and let him know how many are paddling with you. He’ll hand you the sign-in sheet. If you do not see him, then fill out the sheet on the stand just beyond the far end of the parking lot.
Beltzville, Preachers Camp
Beltzville can get busy with power boats, but the eastern end of the lake features two long arms that are fascinating to explore, and the whole area is a no-wake zone. In the spring and fall it is usually very quiet. If you follow the northern or Wild Creek arm as far as you possilby can and then walk a bit you’ll find a footbridge over the stream, and a bit farther up a series of waterfalls.
Launch ramp and dock, gravel beach for kayak and canoe launching. Bathrooms on site. Special parking near water for the handicapped.
Beltzville, main launch
This launch ramp provides access to the west end of Beltzville lake. It’s a busy place in the summer, with unlimited horsepower out on the water. But in spring and fall or even on summer weekdays, it’s a good place to paddle. The beach is nearby.
Enter the lot and keep right to take the access to the boat ramp. Just past the ramp there’s a gravel beach you can drive onto to unload gear. Bathrooms, snack bar over at the beach in season.
Beltzville, south kayak launch
This out-of-the-way access is great when the two boat launch sites at Beltzville are busy. You can park right next to the water. The lake bottom here is gravely and slopes out gently – excellent for rolling and other exercises. There are no facilities.
Head down Evergreen Drive off Route 209 and you’ll see the gate for the dirt park road. There is no sign. Follow the road down the hill to the parking lot.
The Haycock access, at the north-east end of Nockamixon, is the most sheltered area of the lake. It’s good for windy days and the best place the practice rolls and rescues. Go left from the launch area and you can go under the Route 563 bridge and explore the area where Haycock Run enters the lake. Head to the right and the lake winds around until it opens into the main body. A two-mile paddle will take you to the Tohickon launch.
Watch carefully for the sign to the access drive, it’s easy to miss. The launch area is a nice park-like setting with lots of shade. Bathrooms and a nice picnic area.
The Tohickon launch is the most popular for kayaks and other small boats. This is where L.L. Bean runs its kayaking school and the usual meeting spot for moonlight paddles. The water is very shallow until you get some distance out, and there’s a lot of weed here. It’s not good for rolling practice. For an easy paddle, cross to the far side of the lake and turn left. It’s two miles to the Haycock launch. For a bigger challenge, head to the right. It’s a full five miles to the far end of the lake.
Watch carefully for the sign to the access drive. It’s easy to miss. Once in the parking area, follow the drive past the launch ramp and past the bathrooms to the parking section that runs along the water. You can unload directly onto the grass next to the lake. There are basic bathroom facilities.
This is the busy launch ramp at Beltzville, but it’s a good central location in the park and offers more amenities than the other launch sites. It’s not recommended on summer weekends due to the boat traffic, but good for canoes and kayaks weekdays and in the off-season.
The signage is good — just follow the signs for the marina and drive to the far end of the parking area to find the launch ramp. The ramp is very wide and can accommodate several boats at once. Bathrooms with running water and soda machines.
Nockamixon, Three Mile Run
The Three Mile Run launch ramp is usually very quiet, and gives access to the southern end of the lake. There’s very little boat traffic here, and it’s fun to paddle to the left, go under the Route 313 bridge, and explore the creek on the other side. Go right a short distance and you’ll find a deep cove on the left. Tohickon Creek cascades into the lake at the top end of the cove.
Watch for the sign to the launch ramp, which is set back from the road a bit. Bathrooms on site.
Leaser Lake, north ramp
Leaser Lake is a quiet, relaxed gem of a lake. The north access has a boat ramp and never gets busy. The lake is not large, but an island and several coves make it seem much larger than it is, and provide lots of passages and nooks to explore.
There are three roads in the village of Jacksonville on Route 143 that run north to three different access points around the lake. The easternmost road, Ontelaunee Road, runs to the north side of the lake. There are signs. Just keep going and turn left when there appears to be a dead-end. There are bathrooms on site.
Leaser Lake, Team River Runner
Team River Runner maintains a sophisticated launch facility for handicapped paddlers at the west access. It is available for public use, and Leaser Lake couldn’t be a better place for anyone new to paddling to learn the sport. There is very little boat traffic, and none of it is high speed. The lake is interesting to explore, but not large enough for the wind to kick up a chop.
If traveling west on Route 143, pass Jacobs Church in Jacksonville and continue to Leaser Road. Turn right onto Leaser, and then right again when you get to Follweiler Court. The parking lot is at the end of this road. There is a launch area for small craft, but not a launch ramp for trailered boats. The address is 8501 Follweiler Court, Kempton, Pa. There are bathrooms on site.
Blue Marsh Lake, Old Church Road
This is the most paddler friendly of the numerous access points on Blue Marsh Lake. There’s plenty of parking and it’s away from the busy end of the lake. It also starts the paddler out near the many arms and inlets that make Blue Marsh fun to explore.
The parking area is just off Old Church Road on the southeast side of the road, to the north of the bridge across the lake. There are picnic tables, barbecues grills and a mountain bike trail here as well. A porta pottie is also on site.
Raritan Bay, South Amboy
Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy, N.J., is the most convenient big saltwater access to the Lehigh Valley. At the western end of Raritan Bay, one can paddle for miles up along Staten Island to the northeast or toward Keyport and beyond to the southeast. There are sandy beach landings available in both directions. It’s also a good starting point to cut over to the Cheesequake River, an expansive salt marsh. There is lots of parking and the bathrooms are clean. You do have to carry boats down a short flight of steps to the beach, where at low tide rocky fill is exposed. This can be avoided by wheeling boats along the paved path to the south end of the park.
Be aware that this is a massive open bay that can get very rough and has major shipping channels cutting across it. Rescue and navigation skills are a must. After paddle refreshments at Blue Moon, 114 S. Broadway in South Amboy, are recommended.