Medford Canoe Trail – Medford, Burlington County, NJ
Distance: 2 miles (took about two hours, with a walk around and a portage)
Type: One way
Difficulty: 6 of 10, mostly for one really hard carry over where a tree was blocking the way and poison ivy coated the bank of the river. That was a fun one! Other than that, super easy.
Official Website: http://medfordcanoetrail.wordpress.com/
Terrain – Town of Medford and more nature than you’d have imagined.
Put ins – Medford Park, off of Gill Street – 39° 53.640’N, 74° 49.541’W (short carry – 2 miles total, will have to go over a tree) or Coates Street put in (by cemetery – much closer drop off, can avoid tree we had to go over) – 39° 53.869’N, 74° 49.079’W
Take outs – Kirby’s Mill – 39° 55.007’N, 74° 48.357’W
- Map: trailmap (click to view pdf file – source: Medford Canoe Trail website)
Description: I bought a canoe! For $100! (in June of 2012, but let’s pretend it just happened)
My roommate and I decided to christen her on a beautiful June day on the nearby Medford Canoe Trail. So Ol’ Tippecanoe (history reference and terrible canoe name rolled into one), Skunk, and I decided to hit the water. My wife and three month old was nice enough to shuttle the car from one end to the other.
We put in at the first spot – Medford Park on Gill Street. The canoe had to be carried around the lake. The float was slow, and it was pleasant to be on the water in the June heat. The river (a branch of the Rancocas Creek) seemed far away from everything, even though we were passing under bridges as we went through town in this first stretch.
The major challenge of the trip came up pretty soon – a massive downed tree. The website had warned of this blockage, suggesting putting in further down, but the warning was four years old. We figured it had been cleared, but it hadn’t. No problem, we’ll portage around it. Except what looks like massive bed of poison ivy coated the bank. And we tested the water, too deep to stand in an pass it over. Eventually, Skunk maneuvered from the canoe, onto the tree trunk and shimmied up. I got out and we managed to pull it over the trunk and safely to the other side. Hooray!
We soon hit the second put in at Coates Street. We got out and wandered the graveyard to relax a bit after taking the canoe over the tree.
Soon, it was back on the water. We passed under Branch Street and Rt 70. There were kids out fishing, and some folks back windows of their houses were pretty much on the water. Beautiful homes. The surprising part was the wildlife – three huge turkey vultures that got really, really close to us, a number of ducks and other birds, and a beaver that swam very close to us and slapped the water with it’s tail (we weren’t sure if it was a cat until it did that). I didn’t have a camera sadly, but we enjoyed viewing the wildlife anyway.
We had gotten a late start, and made it into Kirby’s Mill as it was getting dark. As the mill comes into view, take the smaller, left branch to stay left of the mill, which is where the pull out is. The wider right branch takes you to the dam.
Rentals: Not available for this area. I think they have one day a year where Adam’s Canoe brings canoes out to the park.
Nearby: Check out Kirby’s Mills while you’re there, very picturesque and lots of history.
For history buffs, the house of Dr. James Still (the black doctor of the pines) is right down the road.
Also nearby is the Flying W Airport, where you can get some food and watch the planes take off and land. I’ve loved going here since I was little. Flying W, if you’re reading this, I will gladly accept a free plane ride over the area to take pictures in exchange for this plug to my millions of loyal readers.
Lots of animals, including a beaver! Also can look into the backyards of riverfront homes you can never afford. Kirby's Mill.
Getting the canoe over that downed log was pretty awful.