Posts Tagged ‘Hackensack’

At noon I put into the Meadowland Marshes at Millridge Park in Secaucus.  I was alone as I took this Friday off from work since it was going to be so nice out.  It was a beautiful day in the low 70s with a bit of a breeze, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky.  It was a very comfortable day for kayaking, so I spent two relaxing hours in the marshes, paddling in and out of the labyrinth searching for birds. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the water because I wanted to get home and catch some of the sunlight at the dog park, which I did.  I found a few birds during the day, nothing too exciting and then I went home.  I enjoyed a few Adam Carolla podcasts and that was the trip.

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There are some bird pictures if that is the kind of thing you are into.


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I started the month on July 1 paddling the marshes of the Meadownlands and I ended the month on July 31 paddling the same marsh.  The main difference was this time it was with Kathy instead of going solo and the water was much calmer.  Kathy hadn’t yet paddled these marshes nor seen the boat access ramp at Millridge Park in Secaucus.

To view the photos I took from this trip in my Picasa online album go to:

Since this was the same paddle as the one we did on July 1, the Google Map I am presenting is from that trip.

This trip was about 4.5 miles and took 1:45 hours.  It is an easy kayak trip with the park being a great little put-in with the option of going left to the Hackensack or meandering the swamps. We chose the swamps to the river.

In many respect this trip was a bit boring as many kayak trip are.  We entered the water at 12:15 and exited at 1:45.  It was sunny hot but nice, not even too humid, yet, all this serenity was a little dull.  Sure we saw lots of birds, more than we would ever encounter on the Passaic in our neck of the woods, but nothing too exciting happened.   Nevertheless, we left the house at 11:15 got home at 3 and change so the logistics for a nice trip make sense.  With the New York City skyline looming in the background, it is tough to complain.  Since we have the week off, I’m leaving the kayaks on the car so we can do another quick trip if we want.  There will be much more to blog about so stay tuned.

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Millridge Park Launch Area, Secaucus, NJ

Kathy and I took off on this beautiful July 1 to enjoy the weather and a kayak paddle somewhere local to us.  Just out of nowhere, doing nothing, Kathy wrenched her back and was out of commission as far as sitting a a kayak for a few hour goes.  It was a real bummer as she couldn’t do a trip but I didn’t let that stop me.

I headed to the Millridge Rd. Park in Secaucus to launch my kayak.  I figured I would meander around the channels and marshes in the are areas behind Secaucus into Mill Creek.  The previous time if left from here on May 17, 2010 I only really hit up the Hackensack River and only touched on the channels I would check out today, so for the most park, todays 5 mile paddle was new territory.

Going through the marsh areas gave me an opportunity to see several nice birds.  As I entered the water and started paddling I immediately scared a blue heron out of the tall reeds and only got pictures of it flying away from me.  I saw a few ducks here and there.  I think I saw a hawk circling above the swamp amongst a large flock of smaller birds.  I also encountered a few white looking heron types of birds that would also flee as I approached them. Luckily for me, that was often against the wind giving me an opportunity to photography them as they were fighting the wind, taking off, hovering and the landing.  Finally at the end of the trip I saw several cormorant hanging out on the pilings in the river.  This was a good bird experience being amongst the marshes.  That was the only wildlife I saw.

To view the photos I took from this trip in my Picasa onine album go to:

As I got into the Hackensack River to head back to the boat ramp the winds really picked up.  The water got very choppy and was fun and refreshing as the waves occasionally splashed onto me even though I did notice the Hackensack definitely leaves a muddy film on you.

It was a nice 2.5 hour paddle that covered a lazy 5 miles of reeds, muddy water, New York City skyline vistas and bird-life.  My only regret is that Kathy wasn’t there to enjoy it with me.  She would have enjoyed this trip.

The time line according to the time stamps is as follows:

  • 1:20 – First picture in the water
  • 1:28 – Spot a blue heron
  • 1:53 – Paddle past the Secaucus Municipal Utilities Authority waste water treatment plant. (1 mile)
  • 1:56 – Photograph my first white heron looking bird.
  • 2:03 – Paddle around 4 tall radio antennae and see some birds.
  • 2:18 – Take mill creek to the end at Rt. 3 (1.75 miles)
  • 2:31 – Photograph a hawk flying around a bunch of small birds (2 miles)
  • 3:09 – Photograph 4 white herons for a while as I approach the Hackensack River (3 miles).
  • 3:22 – Enter channel off of the Hackensack River by the Turnpike’s eastern spur north of Rt. 3 (4 miles)
  • 3:28 – Enter the windy and choppy Hackensack River (4.3 miles)
  • 3:37 – Photograph cormorant on pilings in the river. (4.85 miles)
  • 3:43 – Last picture on the water.

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Another solo paddle down and up the the Hackensack River from Laurel Hill Park to Route 1-9 Truck Route past the Pulaski Skyway and back.  The weather was slightly overcast with a slight breeze but the temperature was in the low 70’s so I was very comfortable the entire paddle.  In total the trip was 8.5 miles round-trip and it took just over 3 hours.  I did this trip solo working hard all the way down and up the river.

To view the uploaded pictures in my Picasa Web album, click the ink below:


This was a very wide portion of the river at points and though I was paddling downstream initially, I think the tide was coming in and therefore I was paddling against the current as well as the wind.  While I was tired on the way home it was definitely easier.  There was a chop to the water and wakes from the 3 or 4 motors boats I past provided a nice roll to the river.  There was more movement in the water than I was used to and gave me a good work out as I paddled for almost 3 straight hours.

This trip was mainly about seeing the sights of industrialized New Jersey with the Empire State Building and the rest of the New York Skyline looking in the background.  While I was focusing on bridges and power plants I did encounter a few cormorants sunning on top of some pilings and got some good pictures of them.  I also caught a hawk circling above the Laurel Hill Rock with the faded Steal Your Face painted into it.  Finally, I took some pictures of a lovely ducky couple wading in the waters just past the Pulaski Skyway.  That was the extent of the wildlife as the rest of the trip was all about the New Jersey look, smell and feel that makes Tony Soprano proud.

Time Line:

  • 2:25 p.m. – Tweeted that I was about to Launch from Laurel Hill Park
  • 2:35p.m. –  First picture on the water
  • 2:41 p.m. – Cross the river to photograph 5 cormorants on pilings
  • 2:49 p.m. – Go under the eastern spur of the Turnpike
  • 2:57 p.m. – Go under NJ Transit railroad bridge
  • 3:32 p.m. – Turn the horn of the river by the huge coal fired power plant (2.5 miles)
  • 3:43 p.m. – Go under second NJ Transit railroad bridge
  • 3:53 p.m. – Go under Newark Turnpike (Road that connects 280 to Holland Tunnel and adjacent railroad bridge (3 miles)
  • 3:57 p.m. – Go under NJ Path railroad bridge
  • 4:11 p.m. – Go under Pulaski Skyway (3.5 miles)
  • 4:14 p.m. Photograph 2 ducks just past the Pulaski Skyway
  • 4:33 p.m. – Go under Route 1-9 Truck Route
  • 4:35 p.m. – Turn around and furthest southern extent  just past Route 1-9 Truck Route bridge (4.2 miles)
  • 4:45 p.m. – Go back under Pulaski Skyway (5 mies)
  • 4:57 p.m. – Go back under NJ Path railroad bridge
  • 4:59 p.m. – Go back under Newark Turnpike (Road that connects 280 to Holland Tunnel and adjacent railroad bridge
  • 5:04 p.m. – Go under second NJ Transit railroad bridge (6 miles)
  • 5:10 p.m. – Turn back on the horn of the river by the huge coal fired power plant (6.5 miles)
  • 5:30 p.m. – Go back under NJ Transit railroad bridge
  • 5:35 p.m. – Go back under the eastern spur of the Turnpike (7.9 miles)
  • 5:46 p.m. –  Last Picture on water (8.5 miles)
  • 6:06 p.m. – Pack and rolling out of the Laurel Hill Park.

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It was a Monday I took off because it would be the last nice day before several with rain so I wanted to take advantage of the weather and head out kayaking.  My destination today was Secaucus, the Hackensack River and the mashes around the Meadowlands.  You never know what you would encounter in areas like this, the bodies of Jimmy Hoffa and or even the body of Adam Katz, so tragically killed while attending a Grateful Dead show in 1989s.

To view the photos from this trip in my Picasa Web album, click on the link below:


I would not encounter anything remotely nefarious on this day. Just lots of birds and a brand new park and access point into the Hackensack river called Millridge Point Park at the end of Millridge Rd in Secaucus, just past Secaucus High School and the new ball fields.  There is a new park built here with a really nice river walk and a boat launch.

From this site we had great access to the Hackensack River and the marshes the meander around the Meadowlands.  I would view the Sports complex and the formerly named Xanadu multi-colored white elephant.  I would meander in and around Route 3 and in, out and under both spurs of the New Jersey Turnpike.

Time Line

  • 11:05 a.m. – Tweet that I am about to launch
  • 11:10 a.m. – Take my first photo from the water.
  • 11:14 a.m. – Photograph a bunch of cormorants on poles in the river.
  • 11:29 a.m. – Done with bird pictures and now the lens is focused across the river at the Xanadu complex.
  • 11:44 a.m. – Paddling past the apartments just north of Rt. 3 and east of the river.
  • 11:46 a.m. – Paddling under the Rt.3 westbound bridge.
  • 11:51 a.m. – I Paddle under the Rt. 3 eastbound bridge.
  • 11:59 a.m. – At the base of the Crowne Plaza Hotel off of Meadowlands Parkway.
  • 12:03 p.m. – Reach my southern most extent on the Hackensack River to the day and head to the western bank of the river close the the western spur of the Turnpike.
  • 12:11 p.m. – Reach western bank of river.
  • 12:12 p.m. – Go under Exit 16W exit ramp and into channel off of the Hackensack River.
  • 12:14 p.m. – Go under western spur of Turnpike.
  • 12:18 p.m. – Turn around in channel as the furthest western point in the channel by the Exit 16W toll booth.
  • 12:26 p.m. – Back under western spur bridge.
  • 12:28 p.m. – Back under Exit 16W exit ramp and heading up the western bank of the river.
  • 12:39 pm. – Back under the Rt. 3 eastbound bridge.
  • 12:44 p.m. – Back under the Rt. 3 westbound bridge.
  • 12:59 p.m.  Paddle past abandoned marina.
  • 1:03 p.m. – Begin photographing cormorants just past the marina.
  • 1:08 p.m. – Witness back-hoe dredging a part of the river
  • 1:15 p.m. – Taking some of my best pictures of the Empire State Building
  • 1:37 p.m. – I’m back to the point on the river where I started.
  • 1:46 p.m. – Enter the channel off the river heading to go under the eastern spur of the Turnpike north of Rt. 3.
  • 1:52 p.m. – Heading under the eastern spur of the Turnpike.
  • 1:54 p.m. – Head toward 71st street, see a crane doing construction work and I turn around.
  • 1:56 p.m. – Go past the turnpike bridge.
  • 2:05 p.m. – Furthest southern extent up Cromakill Creek by the Liz Claiborne Building
  • 2:14 p.m. – Head back under the eastern spur Turnpike bridge.
  • 2:18 p.m. – Photographing white  birds  in the meandering channels on the other side of the Turnpike.
  • 2:26 p.m. – I get back into the Hackensack River.
  • 2:33 p.m. – I pass the boat launch and take some pictures of the original birds on the pilings I encountered at  the start of the trip.
  • 2:41 p.m. – Head back up the channel to go to the boat ramp at Millridge Rd.
  • 2:45 p.m. – Pass the boat ramp and begin to explore in the buggy, meandering channels.
  • 2:56 p.m. – Furthest extent into the meandering channels as I do a lap around a marshy island and head home.
  • 3:04 p.m. – Last picture in the water.
  • 3:22 p.m. – Car and boat are packed and ready to roll.
  • 4:24 p.m. – Car and boat unpacked and ready to blog and shower.

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Searching for the ghosts of Jimmy Hoffa and Pussy from the Sopranos.

I discovered this access point to a kayak trip recently while surfing the Internet.  I knew getting into the water at this location would be fairly easy and accessible.  The issue was the so-called water.  We were to venture to a new river basin in a much more industrialized portion of the so-called Garden State.  The choice was made to kayak the Hackensack River and the Meadowlands marsh somewhere off of the new Exit 15X on the Turnpike.

The Empire State Building looms majestically to the east.

While not generating an image of the Garden State at this location, it does conjure up visions of New Jersey like no other kayaking trip I have been on.  New York City is clearly visible to the east, Newark to the southwest, Secaucus to the northeast and the Meadowlands to the north. Let’s not forget the landfills to the west of us.   Above us we had all the jets lining up to land at Newark Airport and straddling us closely on seemingly all sides were the eastern and western spurs of the New Jersey Turnpike with all the bridges and causeways used to bypass the water I was paddling on.  This was a trip down New Jersey’s memory lane that is reminiscent of the opening scene in the Sopranos.

Through all the muck and mire of industrialized New Jersey was an easy paddling that was an interesting water system.  We have only been to the suburban upstream portions of the Passaic, Rockaway and Delaware, as well as a couple of secluded reservoirs, so this was our first urban paddle.  I found it fascinating and interesting with the greatest variety and quantity of bird life that we have encountered so far.

It’s actually hard to say where we were.  It could have been Secaucus, Jersey City or even North Arlington.  We were in the type of swamp no one wants to claim except the decomposed body parts of Jimmy Hoffa.  With no one claiming the swamp but the ghosts of the aforementioned Jimmy Hoffa and Pussy from the Sopranos, Kathy and I decided to claim the swamp for ourselves.  Except for people fishing along the shore, I wouldn’t eat the fish by the way, there was no one out on the water.  While motor boats are probably allowed along the water we saw nothing.  There were countless cars and trucks whizzing by us but no one on the water.  We had the swamp to ourselves.

This was a super short and easy paddle.  It was only 2.7 miles in a loop and there was no current in the river.   While I think tides do something around here in the 90 minutes we were on the water, I noticed nothing.   The concrete boat ramp at the park made accessing the water, in and out a dry breeze.  I think this would be true in any water level.  Therefore, for a 35 minute trip from home this give me great access to a river system that is kayakable at all water levels and foliage is not important as far as the beauty the trip goes.

This location is very photogenic with respect to having so many open vistas.  At dusk, photographing kayak trip in this area will prove quite beautiful.  I can’t wait to do it.  I have a feeling this will become a favorite pace to come to for solo after work kayak trips in the summer.  I’m bound to catch many a colorful sunset over the gloriously polluted New Jersey skies that will make photographing Newark at sunset a true Garden State experience.

There were a few more firsts on this trip besides the whole Hackensack River Meadowlands marsh thing.  First of all this was the first time my Fit carried two kayaks and it survived.  Secondly, this was the first time I used my new GPS unit for my Nikon D200 camera.  My pictures all get automatically geo-stamped with latitude and longitudinal coordinates.  It’s great looking at the pictures in Google Picasa with a Google map showing where each picture was taken.  It eats up some batty power, so I should get an additional battery for the camera, but I love the additional information encoded in my digital pictures.

Timeline of the trip based on the time and GPS-stamps of the photos:

  • 11:27 a.m. Cars packed in the driveway
  • 12:52 p.m. Parked at Laurel Hill Park Launch Site
  • 12:58 p.m. First photo in the river
  • 1:05 p.m. Enter a corridor in the Meadowlands after crossing the Hackensack River
  • 1:14 .m. Enter the openness after the corridor closer to the Western spur of the Turnpike
  • 1:33 p.m. Locate the northern corridor through the marsh along the western spur of the Turnpike
  • 1:36 p.m. Find an opening in the swamps with egrets, ducks and geese so we take pictures.
  • 1:53 p.m. Go as far north as we would in the marsh, by the NJ Transit train tracks and turn east to head home.
  • 1:59 p.m. Photograph 2 hawks soaring above the Laurel Hill by the eastern spur of the Turnpike.
  • 2:04 p.m. Back in the Hackensack River observing a swan/white goose to the north of us.
  • 2:16 p.m. Start heading home on the short downstream on the Hackensack
  • 2:28 p.m. Last picture on the water
  • 2:49 p.m. Car is packed and loaded

The serenity of the brackish marsh.

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