Top U.S. Flatwater: Mid-Atlantic

Oswego River: Pine Barrens, New Jersey

The Pine Barrens are a magical anomaly: more than a million acres of wildlands smack dab in the middle of the most densely populated state in the union. Thanks to the enlightened efforts of the citizens of New Jersey, the Pine Barrens remain the largest contiguous open space in the area between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The "Pines" is a near-wilderness of scrubby pine, cedar and oak growing on sandy soil, pocked by wetlands—and drained by several great canoeing rivers. The Wading River is the most popular, but for our money, the Oswego offers the richest experience. The put-in is the picnic area at Penn State Forest. After a quick paddle across a lake and a carry around a dam, you're floating on an eventful ribbon of tea-colored water. You'll pass through dense forest, island-studded ponds, and open marshland before finally joining up with the Wading River.

The Bodine Field campground lies near the end of the route—so why not make a day and night of it? It sure beats the sounds of sirens and car alarms.


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