One of the most serene ways to explore the Jersey Shore’s natural areas is to take a kayak or canoe out into the Pine Barrens, where much of the beauty can’t be explored by car. The photo below was taken on the Oswego River, which, although not recommended for first-timers (there are lots of tricky turns) is a fabulous river tour with lots of wildflowers and towering cedar trees. The silence on these inland rivers allows you to catch the call of warblers and catbirds as you glide through the cedar-stained water.
The Pine Barrens offer some of New Jersey’s best canoeing. Four rivers, the Oswego, Wading, Batsto and Mullica meander through the Wharton State Forest and nearby areas. It’s a great way to explore the forest and get away from the city for a while.
If you don’t have your own kayak or canoe, you can rent one from the following companies:
Paddling the Jersey Pine Barrens, written by Robert Parnes, is a good resource with a lot of material on the history and ecology of the rivers. Another option is to include kayaking/canoeing in a tour of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, you’ll find a suggested itinerary in the guide Exploring New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.