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Wading River Paddle – Woodland Township, NJ
Distance: 9 1/2 miles
Type: One way
Difficulty: 9 of 10.

Terrain – Narrow, winding river with lots and lots of sharp curves.

Put ins – Hawkin’s Bridge –  39°42’51.43″N,  74°33’57.16″W
Pull outs – Godfrey Bridge –  39°41’23.22″N,  74°32’45.77″W (3 miles from Hawkins)
Evan Bridge –  39°40’29.98″N, 74°32’26.49″W(6 miles from Hawkins)
Bodine Field –  39°39’14.09″N,  74°31’29.20″W  (9 1/2 miles from Hawkins)
Beaver Branch –  39°39’2.32″N,  74°31’7.70″W (10 miles from Hawkins)
Chips Folly – No idea where this one is, never made it that far.
You can also supposedly put in at Speedwell Bridge, but it’s usually too shallow at Hawkins to really get going, so I’m not sure how one would start further up the river.  Expect to walk a lot I guess.

Description:  When I think of canoeing, I think of the Wading.  I’ve done this river at least a dozen times since my first trip down it from Hawkins Bridge down to Frank’s Place (you can still see Frank’s Place, it’s now covered in “No Trespassing” signs) way back n 1993.  I’ve canoed on it every season of the year, in droughts where the bottom drags the first three miles and in floods where the banks overflowed so badly that it was one big lake and you couldn’t tell which way the river was supposed to go.  I’ve canoed it twice in the last three months, during which I was brave enough to take pictures for the first time.

Right off the bat, kayaking is probably way easier.  I, however, am a canoe man, so canoeing it is for me.

You’ll start out at Hawkins Bridge, which is an interesting drive down some dirt roads.  Turn at the sign for Winding River Campground off of Rt 563, Green Bank – Chatsworth Road.  Cross the bridge and drive until you come to a “T”.  Turn right at the T.  Go until you drive across a bridge.  This is the put in for the Wading.  Parking is ahead just a few hundred yards.

Getting the canoes ready.

Getting the canoes ready.

You'll put in upstream of the bridge and go under it.

You’ll put in upstream of the bridge and go under it.

At most times, the Wading starts out very shallow.  Expect to have to get out of the canoe and walk it downstream in stretches.  If you are me (an idiot) and canoeing in October, March, April, or some other not very warm month, you will start off not very happy if you have to walk your canoe.

Once you get going though, it gets better.  The Wading is tricky for two reasons – 1) it curves.  A lot. 2) the current is really, really fast.  What this means is, if you are not a great canoer OR you try to go to fast, you’re going to spend a lot of time in the bushes or in low hanging tree branches, getting scratched up or flipping over.  Take your time and you can avoid 80% of the problems.

On the top part of the river, sit back and enjoy the scenery.  It’s about 3 or 4 miles or so down to your first landmark, the campground at Godfrey Bridge.

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Pullout at Godfrey Bridge BEFORE the bridge.

Pullout at Godfrey Bridge BEFORE the bridge.

Pullout near the base of Godfrey Bridge.

Pullout near the base of Godfrey Bridge.

Pullout near the base of Godfrey Bridge.



Pullout near the base of Godfrey Bridge.

Godfrey Bridge is usually a nice place to stretch for a few minutes before continuing onward.

Just after Godfrey, you’ll parallel the Wading Pines Campground (thanks Darrin on the correction!).  This is private, not state owned, and I’ve never had the opportunity to stay there.  What you need to worry about now is folks floating on tubes.  They likely aren’t paying attention, you can easily run them over in your canoe, so be careful.

You’ll wind through some more lovely pinelands until, after two or three miles, you’ll come upon Evans Bridge.  There are bolts sticking out of the bottom, so be careful if the water is high.  This is six miles in, a great spot for lunch.

There is one spot to look for on this stretch, an ancient boat that it slowly rotting away in the river.  When I was little, there was a lot more of it.  Some day, there will be none of it.  No idea what it’s from, but enjoy it while you can.

Old boat.

Old boat.

Evans Bridge.

Evans Bridge.

Pullout on the other side of Evans.

Pullout on the other side of Evans.

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From Evans Bridge, it’s just over three miles to the pullout at Bodine Field, and a bit under four to the pullout at Beaver Branch.

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Bodine Field.

Bodine Field.

Overall, a lovely way to spend a day out in the Pine Barrens.

Not lucky enough to own your own canoe or kayak?  Mick’s is the closest canoe/kayak rentals to the Wading River, and I’ve happily used them many times in the past – http://www.mickscanoerental.com/ .

The Good

Cedar swamps, pinelands, ore boat, three bridges, swimming (when it's warm), and wildlife.

The Could Be Better

The speed of this river can be difficult to navigate if you aren't used to it.

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Bottom Line

As previously stated, this is not only my favorite place to canoe, it’s what I think of when I think canoeing. I can’t give a better recommendation than that!

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southjerseytrails
  • Darrin
    September 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog. The campground you are referring to as Winding river is actually called Wading Pines.

  • Darrin
    September 29, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Just wanted to say thanks for the directions to Hawkins Bridge. My wife and I used them this weekend and paddled down to Evans. I wanted to know, can you get out at Bodine if you are not camping there? The current was really moving so we made the trip to Evans in two hours. We want to go a little longer on our next trip in a couple weeks. Thanks again, Darrin

    • September 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it! I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to pull out there, especially in the off season. If you’re concerned, you can always put a call into the Wharton State Park office.

  • Bob N
    September 17, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Hey, I know it’s been a while since you wrote this, but if I wanted to do an overnight trip with my son, using my own canoe, where’s a good spot to put in? We used to rent from Micks in Scouts, but I’m not sure I could use that access point with my own canoe. Putting in a Hawkins seems like that would not leave enough river for a two day trip. Thanks

    • southjerseytrails
      September 17, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Hi Bob! You’d want to put in at Hawkins Bridge, above there just usually isn’t reasonable to do in a canoe. You can Camp at Bodine Field, which gives you 8 1/2 or 9 miles the first day.

      The second day, you could canoe down to Chips Folly, the last listed take out on the river. Sadly, it’s the one spot I’ve never taken out at on the Wading, but I’d think it’s 4 or 5 miles.

      If you aren’t set on the Wading, you can also look at our write up on the Mullica River. It’s a nice two day paddle from Atsion down to Sweetwater (about 10 miles total, but pace is MUCH slower than the Wading) with camping at the Mullica River Camp.

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