As river health improves, recreation opportunities increase for South Bergen

Published online: Mar 09, 2012 News Brian Anderson -
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With the mild winter in the past and spring approaching, local groups, organizations and agencies are gearing up for another season of recreation opportunities along the two rivers to the east and west of South Bergen communities.

Canoes and kayak cruises are also available on the Hackensack River, and rowing on the Passaic River is becoming increasingly popular.
Canoes and kayak cruises are also available on the Hackensack River, and rowing on the Passaic River is becoming increasingly popular.

Sandwiched between the Passaic River and theHackensack River, South Bergen residents have access to both rivers and the programming that focuses on them.

And local officials in charge of programming along the rivers say as the health of the rivers slowly improves, there's more to see and do each time you make it out onto one of the waterways.

On the Hackensack River

One site that will increase access to the HackensackRiver is the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission River Barge Park, on Outwater Lane in Carlstadt. River Barge Park Day will be held at the park in either late May or early June, and officials from the NJMC will provide free pontoon cruises, and information exhibits will be set up about river conservation and environmental protection.

The NJMC's River Barge Park will be the launch point for pontoon cruises throughout the summer, said Brian Aberback of the NJMC. Those pontoon cruises start in June and run through September. The public will also be able to launch canoes and kayaks from the park when it officially opens, Aberback said.

The pontoon cruises and guided canoe tours each cost $15, according to the NJMC. The tours provide closer access to birds and wildlife along the Hackensack, such as diamondback terrapins, muskrats, herons and peregrine falcons.

The NJMC River Barge Park also has 17 boat slips that are available for rental. The slips will be awarded through a bid process, which begins on March 14 and are due on March 23, Aberback said. The NJMC will hold information sessions on slip rentals on March 14, at 6 p.m., at the Environmental Center and March 17, at 9 a.m., at River Barge Park.

The Saw Mill Creek Canoe Trail Canoe Trail is a 2.2-mile trail that encircles the salt marsh, and offers kayakers and canoes another way to see wildlife along the Hackensack. Its access point is at the Laurel Hill canoe launch in Lauren Hill Park.

The Hackensack Riverkeeper at Laurel Hill Park, located across the river in Secaucus, also offers eco-cruises, kayak and canoe rentals and paddling tours along the Hackensack River. Hugh Carola of the Riverkeeper said more than 5,000 people go out on the Hackensack River on eco-cruises and guided paddles every year. Word of mouth has kept interest going, he said, and many visitors come back each year; also, some local schools send individual classes every year.


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