This past Sunday, Maureen and I teamed with Jim and Lisa Andrews to paddle in front of Mariton - twice. Now that the canal (part of the Delaware Canal State Park) has been re-watered I have been wanting to check the feasibility of doing a round trip using the canal to paddle upstream, and then switch to the river to paddle downstream to the starting point. Jim and Lisa were game, so we set off.
We started below Riegelsville at the Durham Lock (Routes 611 and 212). The landing there is a too high above the water to make getting into kayaks easy. The walkway to the landing is also too narrow and winding to make carrying boats to the landing easy. But the bank and canal bed is solid, so we were able to improvise.
In the canal, you are always paddling against a current. It is a very mild current and it isn't difficult paddling. If you want to take a break, you just pull into the weeds along the edge. In some ways it makes it ideal for exercise paddling. (The canal gets narrow in a few places and the current gets strong, but we all managed.) We didn't have a problem with the current, but some folks might. While there is vegetation growing in the canal, it didn't impede paddling. In time, I think the water will drown most of the vegetation.
The scenery is actually better than I expected, considering you are actually lower than the towpath. It gives one a different view of things. Paddling by the houses in Riegelville was really charming. Looking up at Mariton from this perspective was kind of exciting for me. We were just far enough away that you were looking up the fall line of the hill, instead of at the hill.
When we reached Groundhog Lock, we pulled out at the landing. This landing matched the water level to allow easy exits from our boats. We had lunch there. Then we carried our boats down to the Delaware. In the Delaware, we had the current helping us downstream. We paddled by Mariton again in one of my favorite parts of the River. Jim saw an immature Bald Eagle. We also saw several Red-tailed Hawks. When we got back to the Durham Lock, we had to get our boats up a steep bank to where we were parked.
Overall it was great trip and we enjoyed ourselves. But it isn't a trip for everyone. The accesses at the canal and River in Riegelsville is challenging. Not everyone would be comfortable paddling upstream for two hours. So, I don't think that Mariton will be offering it for groups. But there are some great views. Including this bridge at Frys's Run.