Atsion Lake Paddle – Atsion Recreation Area, Wharton State Forest, Shamong, Burlington County, NJ
Distance: The lake is over a mile long and up to a 1/4 mile wide. Can also come in from the Goshen Pond area, which Dan kayaked in from (roughly two miles, one way). We did a mile and a half in two relatively short trips, and we didn’t even get more than halfway down the lake.
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: 4 of 10 – Middle of the lake lack of current can be a pain in the arms.
Total score: 6 of 10.
Fees – If putting in at Atsion, $10 on weekends and $5 on weekdays to get into the lake area (in season)
Rentals – A boat concession rents out canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats right at the put in at Atsion Lake. Cash only I believe!
Terrain – pine forests, marshes, beautiful lake.
Directions – Atsion Lake Recreation Area is located on Route 206 in Shamong, NJ. Drive straight down the driveway to the end of the parking lot, then turn left. The entrance to the boat launch is a small dirt road on your right (it’s labeled!). If bringing your own, drive down and drop your canoe/kayak off at the water, then come back to the lot to park. If renting, park your car before heading down the road.
Put ins – 39°44’23.37″N, 74°43’53.07″W (dock at Atsion Lake Recreation Area)
39°44’34.91″N, 74°45’25.66″W (Ephraim Road past Goshen Pond Camping Area) – Note – I haven’t done this in a canoe, so not sure if a canoe can make it down. A kayak definitely can.
Standouts – birds and beautiful cedar water
Description – Atsion Lake was created long ago to provide the water power for the various industries at Atsion, from the iron works to the paper mill. Later, it was used to take ice out of to sell at market. Today, you can hike around the lake, go for a swim, take a boat ride, or rent a cabin by the water’s edge.
We opted for three of the four, taking a hike, then going for a swim, and finally going for a canoe ride. The Pres and I had just pulled the canoe up to the water and were getting ready to head out, when who should appear but our canoeing buddy Dan, who had just paddled his kayak up up the Mullica from the Goshen Pond area. He immediately agreed to head out canoeing on the lake.
Our first trip around, we headed for the west end of the lake, which is more wilderness. We made it about to the midway point of the lake, when The Pres decided that he wanted to go back. So we did. I had lost my phone while unloading the canoe (slipped between the car seats), so I don’t have any pictures for this.
Later, Dan and I went to put the canoe back up on the car. But since the lake was there and it was a nice day, we ended up going out for round #2. This time we headed for the dam end of the lake, paddling around the swimming area. The lake is very nice in that direction too. This time, I even took pictures.
Overall recommendation – This area has everything! You’re at Atsion Lake and you paid, go for a swim in the cedar water. Just expect your clothes to change color. Make sure to hike the Atsion Lake Trail inside the recreation area.
Right across the street, you can park at the ranger station lot and do a nice walk through Atsion, featuring historic buildings and an old railroad bridge. This is also the kickoff point for the Mullica River Trail that stretches ten miles (one way) to Batsto. Using the same approximate route is the Mullica River Paddle that can be done in one day or as an overnight. Rentals for that run or the Batsto River run are available from the new Pinelands Adventures run by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, which is located behind one of the houses directly across the lake from the swimming area at Atsion Lake.
A few miles down the road in Shamong is the Racocas Conservancy’s Pipers Corner Preserve, which will always hold a special place in my heart because I saw a fox there.