Devil's Tea Table, New Jersey, US
|Usual Difficulty||V (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||500 fpm|
|Max Gradient||500 fpm|
|Lockatong Creek at Raven Rock NJ|
|usgs-01460880||1200 - 7000 cfs||V||01h57m||7.4 cfs (too low)|
This little tributary to the Delaware may offer the best in Class V steep creeking that New Jersey has to offer. For about a 1/2 mile, it offers up non-stop, very steep, technical drops that will get the adrenaline going for just about anyone. This little gem actually doesn't have a name but is located at the base of the cliff/rock formation known as the Devil's Tea Table located just about half way between Stockton and Frenchtown on Rt. 29. Given the nature of the run, the name seems fitting. There are only about 3 or 4 eddies big enough for more than one boat along this entire stretch and only a few more that will even fit one boat. Therefore, don't get on this run unless you are fully confident in your ability to read and react to continuous, steep drops and to catch micro-eddies as needed.
If the area has gotten 1 to 2" of heavy rain and the gauge for the Lock is going straight up and over 1200 cfs or if the Lock and the Wick are already too high, this may be running. My guess is that it will not be runnable more than a few hours after the rain stops. It probably is runnable just a handful of times a year so catch it when you can.
The hundred yards or so above the first bridge features a continuous series of Class III/IV slides, which is all the warm-up you are going to get. Just above the bridge, the bottom drops out and it would be impossible to describe all the drops in any detail, since it is essentially one continuous rapid to the take-out. There are probably two drops of note though.
Right Out Of Hell:
The first is about 100 yards below the bridge where the creek drops into a very narrow slot on the left. At low flows, you will have to run this tight sketchy left slot, while at higher flow a very sweet 7’ boof off a slab rock opens up on the right side of the slot. The biggest drop of the run, currently dubbed “Jersey Devil”, is about 2/3’s of the way down. It is a steep 15-20 foot slide with an undercut wall along its right side. Run this left and expect to get pushed toward the right cliff at the bottom. Take-out at any available eddy on the left above the tunnel that takes the creek under Rt. 29 or if you've scouted it and it was clear, the tunnel has a nice steep slide in it that is runnable as long as it is clear of wood.
Since the entire run is roadside, make sure you know where any wood is and locate the nearest catchable eddy above the wood before you put-on. As of March 2008, there were no mandatory wood portages but a couple of trees that required tight lines which might not be acceptable for some to run.
ACCESS: So far, there has been no problems with access, but as with any area, be very respectful of local residents so problems don't arise. Do not park in the resident's creek side parking spots above the .5 mile putin bridge.
Please do not park on Warsaw road below the .5 mile put in bridge unless you are in the one and only single car pull out at the 0.5 mile putin bridge itself. There is parking 100 yards north on Rt 29. Hike laps if need be, don't block the narrow road and be as descrete as possible on this posted private property.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Warm Up, Above Put In Bridge||III+|
|0.3||Entry to "Right Out Of Hell" at Horizon Line||5.0|
|0.4||Cloud 9 Eddy|
|0.5||Entry to the Jersey Devil||5.0|
Till I get better pictures the scouting pictures will have to do. Pictured is the warm up class 2-3 section leading to the bridge.
I would walk up with the boat and put in just about where the upstream horizon line is. It's maybe 2 tenths of a mile above the bridge. A warm up is worth it as this creek kicks off strong just below the bridge. The whole run is about .7 miles long if starting from the "Warm Up" putin.
Everything downstream of the bridge I call class 5. It's always a wildcard how big the water will be so CL 5 fits this essentially single very long rapid.
River Left slot that often traps wood. Always check. Run rapid to the right to run the 7ft boof, "Right Out Of Hell". Cross over river Left to river Right moves in front of the Hell Slot are much more difficult than the scout would lead you to believe. I don't suggest this move (especially at lower water) if the Hell Slot is choked with wood.
Note the V notch shimmer of water on the river Left horizon Line. That is the entry to the very ugly Hell slot. This slot catches all the wood. I don't go anywhere near this line. I choose be hard river right. You can see the Van sized large dark unfriendly looking boulder leaning out as if undercut. (click on the picture to see clearly). I drive up over a shallow ledge right next to it and bounce into the eddy that gives me a perfect shot at "Right From Hell's" 7 foot boof. At Higher water I might cross over in front of the Hell Slot but at my lower levels I felt there was too much guard rock action going on to get right. Jeff did this cross over to right line at low flow and said it was much harder than it looked like in the scout.
Either way Drive the boof hard and try to fall off the boof rock as flat as possible. Is should just be a typical creek hit and not a painful piton even if you screw it up. The landing rock formation seems somewhat friendly. If you roll over you'll be on more rock than water to brace up.
The Creek starts taking off now and In 50 yards there is a break coming at the biggest eddy on creek Left. Its the only slice of heaven here at Devil's and I like to think of it as "Cloud 9". 3 boaters can fit in hear briefly but 2 or 1 is much more manageable.
Cloud 9 swirls pretty fast. A swimmers boat can easily get in here and stay in this eddy for a long time.
Once exiting the eddy be on the look out for a huge tree taking up 75% of the creek on river Left. Look to bounce down in the shallower Right side. You can see the tree coming far away to setup a good line or to get out.
The pace will increase in the middle 2 tenths of a mile so be ready for reactive combative paddling. All the eddies I saw at my Medium-Low run I typically just blew by not wanting to risk boating this beast backwards. It was very exciting reminded me of the excitement level of paddling the Blackwater and Green Narrows.
If you are not having a good time, Cloud 9 is the place to climb out.
Easy looking start to the "Jersey Devil"
Biggest Fastest section on the creek. It drops down about 20 ft in a series of small smooth ledges. What a blast!
At the top of the rapid is a triangle rock in the middle of the flow that you keep on your right. Skip in for a great ride.
The Under Cuts follow right after the Jersey Devil. Stay Left.
Towards the end the intensity of the river ramps down just a little. Its more shallow on the right and I used that to bounce and grind to a slower pace so I could really spot a single boat "eddy" so I could climb out. No trail is available. It's a short steep bushwhack.