In this upside down year, we’ve had no choice but to turn our travels “upside down” too (and maybe “inside out”). Instead of heading to places both far and foreign (at least for a while – we’ve actually begun to plan a trip for next April to South Africa – stay tuned) we’re taking a new, hard, eyes wide open look at what’s not far from our front door.
Around the corner and down the street is a true hidden gem, the Crosswicks Creek. The mouth of the Crosswicks opens to the Delaware River (this year’s National River of the Year) at our Bordentown Beach, boat launch and yacht clubs.
We started out on a foggy fall morning with a promise of clearing and warm, blue skies. No other thoughts than of the enveloping quiet and calm, and the color just hinting about its spectacular display soon to come.
The Crosswicks Creek is one of the primary openings to the Abbott Marshlands, one of the most spectacular, preserved spaces in our urban/suburban, surrounded by highways, part of the world. You can walk into it via a network of trails, or paddle in with a canoe or kayak, as we just did.
Check out the Abbott Marshlands website – http://abbottmarshlands.org – to learn about it’s incredible living and archeological history, its flora, fauna and tidal water system, and its access for study, observation, recreation and educational programs. Representing Bordentown City, I sit on the Board of the Abbott Marshlands council and am a member of the executive committee of the Friends for the Abbott Marshlands (organized by the D & R Greenway Land Trust). In that regard, don’t forget to click on the “Donate” page if you can. Commercial over!
The mouth of the Crosswicks Creek is adjacent to the Delaware with a pebble-beach launching area known as the Bordentown Beach. Once in the water you can go straight out under the Rt. 295 bridge into the Delaware and make your way north or south. Or, make a right turn, pass our two yacht clubs, Lock #1 of the Delaware & Raritan Canal on your left, and under the NJ Transit Light Rail bridge into the pristine, protected creek itself.
Careful though if you venture in by watercraft. The area is at the northern most part of a tidal basin. The tide itself can swing up to nine feet during each six hour cycle. Smaller tributaries of the creek and the D & R Canal can lose any navigable water at low tide. And the current can be dangerously swift for novice paddlers at some narrow sections and below bridges.
We moved on as the sun made it’s way out of the mist, the sky turned blue, and the wind took a vacation allowing reflections that made us dizzy wondering if we we’re still right side up.
Wild rice is prolific in the Abbott Marshlands, attracting hordes of redwing blackbirds that swarm just ahead of us leading us deeper into our “secret” Eagle Alley (our name) that snakes through the dense water plants at high tide to where several eagles have made their nests. This video just gives a hint of the clouds of blackbirds, thousands of them, moving just ahead of our boats.
One problem in the Marshlands is the proliferation of the invasive phragmites (common reed) that looks nice but muscles in on lots of beneficial flora like the wild rice, so important to the local bird life. The State of NJ and Mercer County currently have a program eradicating huge swaths of phragmites. Hopefully it will be extended into the Burlington County section of the Marsh (where Bordentown is located).
The fall flowers are in full bloom, many in the spectacular vases that nature provides. Check bellow for a look at some of the spectacular blooms the marshlands shows off….
Around every bend a new, spectacular vista unfolds. You could spend hours, days exploring, and never see it all.
And, too, the wildlife – fish, eagles, herons, egrets, turtles, water snakes, we even startled a deer (as much as she startled us) on one of the hammocks of land.
It was an easy trip back at the end of the day with the outflowing tide at our backs…hardly a need to paddle.
Beneath the Riverline (light rail) bridge…with a train on its way toward Trenton…past the yacht clubs…and back to the beach and the van.
The sun sets on another beautiful day exploring the ever-changing Crosswicks Creek. But before you go, take a look at the gallery below with shots we’ve taken in all seasons, in every nook and cranny of this incredible, accessible spot just down the street and around the corner. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, just give us a call. We’re always ready to walk or paddle with you into the wonders in and around the Crosswicks Creek and the Abbott Marshlands. Be safe.