Stephen Strange contributes:
The South Branch of the Raritan River's "Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area" is one of the classic class III runs in NJ (if there is such a thing). There is a gravel road which runs along the river from Hoffman's Crossing to the Cokesbury Rd. Bridge on river left. The gorge has about 3 miles of class III mixed boulder garden and ledge rapids. It's a perfect training run for intermediate boaters. Hoffman's Crossing Bridge has a gravel parking spots and is the typical put-in. You can also put in about 1/4 mile downstream on river left. There is a State Park parking area with a few spots. This area can get pretty crowded during fishing season. There are also a few take-out options. A fishing club owns a lot of land around the lower half of the gorge; there is even a sign strung at about head height on a cable about .5 mi above the lower bridge (the cable and sign were knocked out by Irene). You can take out at the end of the second Island (above their land) where there is narrow gravel shoulder along the road, Or you can paddle down to Lake Solitude. The club sold Lake Solitude to the Town of High bridge, so the Lake is now public. There is a gravel parking spot along river road at the head of the lake, or you can paddle across and take out at the dam. Finally, you can carry around the dam and take out at Union Forge Park in High Bridge for an extra few hundred yards of river. The Dam is marginably runnable from around 9 feet up to 10.5. Scout, boof well and clear the backwash.
Currently (Sept. 2011) work is being done on the dam, so access across the dam is restricted, though I doubt they'd stop you from portaging.
The gravel road is now closed to vehicles from the upstream parking area to a parking area just above the second island. The quickest shuttle is probably on Rt. 513
Ran it on Sunday 10/9/2005. 8'2" on the station gauge, a nice level. No major strainers to report, except the usual river-wide before the first island. (Take this on the right, but then eddy left behind the big rock, and then run the chute on the left side of the island for the most excitement. This is easy to scout, too; just pull out when you see the strainer, and walk down the road.) The drop on the right side of the second island is clear. This one is tough to scout, so look for log piles on the right and center about two miles into the run, just after passing a curve to the left (train-wreck bend) with a sign board on the bank. Run between the log piles around the right side of the island. Great level for side surfing the lower ledges. Some small side strainers here and there, but mostly clear. Have fun! Eric T.
Looked at it on Saturday 10/15/2005 with 7'3" on the guage. It looked like a bony ride from the Cokesbury Bridge, so we didn't paddle it. I would say pass on it at this level and below.
04/03/2009: Hopefully we'll get some good days in the Lockwood Gorge this season. Thanks, Mike, for the strainer work and update (see comments section).
I think i know the tree you're talking about...it's been there since the winter. If anyone is interested in removing it on a day the level is low enough let me know.
My buddy and I are in the process of removing this large strainer on the river left section and eventually any others.
Have run the Ken Lockwood Gorge twice now--both times with the So. Branch running at about 6.8 on the gauge. Lots of fun! Yesterday (1/8/07) it was running at 7.9--the highest level since I've been paying attention--and I drove through the gorge. It actually looked like it would have been a significantly easier run than at lower levels where there are so many more rocks exposed. Waves were not that much bigger. Be aware that NJ Fish and Game has plans to "improve" the access road through the gorge and close it off to auto traffic. This will make scouting/shuttling through the gorge impossible.
9 years ago
by Stephen Strange
11 years ago
by Jeff Dahl
Stephen Strange contributes: The gauge for this section is the S. B. Raritan River at High Bridge. Minimum is 6.7'; a good level is anything between 7' and 9', and over 9' it becomes more of a flush.
8'-8.5' provides the most surfing opportunities, including the gauging station weir.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
on Raritan, S. Branch @2. Hoffman's Bridge to unnamed bridge at Readingsburg
Small Drop Before Train Wreck Bend
Lockwood Gorge: Last Stretch
Low Low water on the South Branch
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