Located in New Jersey, the Raritan River Watershed is one of the state’s most popular natural areas.
The Upper Raritan Watershed includes the 50 mile long South Branch Raritan, North Branch Raritan, and numerous smaller tributaries.
The South Branch begins as the outflow from Budd Lake, a glacial lake located northeast of Hackettstown, NJ. From its source, the South branch travels in a “C” shaped path around the shorter North Branch.
The South Branch is impounded twice near Mount Olive Township, West Morris, and High Bridge Waterfall. At Clinton, the outflow from Spruce Run Reservoir joins the waterway before another series of dams. A dam near Flemington forms a pool known as Red Rock Lake.
In Neshanic. an old mill forms pools and riffles. Below the confluence of the North and South branches, a dam located above A dam at the confluence of the South Branch and the Millstone River provides water to the Delaware and Raritan Canal.
Public access is available at numerous locations along the South Branch Raritan. Near Mount Olive, walk in access can be found along River Road and along Columbia Trail. Just downstream, the river runs through the township of Long Valley. Nearby are numerous access points off Rt. 513.
Additional access is available at Califon. West of Califon, Ken Lockwood Gorge Wildlife Management Area includes access to trails, a Trout Conservation Area (TCA), and “The Gorge”, one of the most beautiful river formations in New Jersey.
Downstream of High Bridge Waterfall, the river can be accessed in township of High Bridge, primarily along Arch St and Rt. 513. A few miles south in Clinton, Durham Park includes property along the river. Nearby, Landsdown Trail leads to the river and Capoolong Creek. Further downstream, Sunnyside Awossagame Grove provides access along the riverbank. In Flemington, paddlers and floaters can launch or retrieve equipment. A park, trails and riverside areas are found In Neshanic.
Both the North Branch and South Branch are known for their trout fisheries. In some areas, wild brown, brook, and rainbow trout inhabit the river. To supplement wild trout stocks in the upper Raritan watershed, New Jersey stocks thousands of trout annually.
As the river widens and warms, trout are replaced by smallmouth bass, sunfish, carp, and other species.
The Raritan River begins at the confluence of the North and South Branches. It flows for approximately 30 miles before entering the western end of Raritan Bay.
Near Bridgewater, Duke Island Park provides access to the mainstream Raritan River. Along the stretch from the dam at the South Branch – Millstone River to New Brunswick, are the Delaware and Raritan Canal, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, trails, and other recreational areas. The canal and the park are part of the National Recreation Trail System.
The Raritan River contains nursery areas for striped bass, white perch, American shad, hickory shad, river herring, and other anadromous species. The river’s fall line is located near New Brunswick, New Jersey. Anglers fishing along the tidal Raritan River target striped bass, bluefish, winter flounder, and other species.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains stream gauges and other monitoring equipment at multiple sites along the river.