My favorite place to go kayaking in the Meadowlands is an out-of-the-way place called the Kearny Marsh, tucked away between Schuyler Avenue, the Belleville Pike and Bergen Avenue.
The 310-acre fresh-water marsh, which includes plenty of open water and splendid views of Manhattan, is also a world apart.
Kearny resident Ron Shields explores the marsh often in his 11-foot-long ocean kayak, documenting his finds with a Canon 50D digital camera, and he knows these wetlands about as well as the resident Great Egrets do.
Ron, the longtime principal of Harrison High School, says: “This is my third year kayaking the Kearny Marsh and it's still as exciting as ever. The main reason I kayak here is the sense of discovery one experiences. Most of the time, you're there alone. and the sense of isolation one encounters (especially given the skylines Newark and New York City) is amazing.”
One of the main attractions, according to Ron, is finding the beauty in things that most people overlook. “Whether it's photographing a bald eagle within the site of the turnpike, watching a peregrine falcon strafe a flock of shorebirds or encountering a belligerent common moorhen protecting her young, the wonders of the Kearny Marsh still give me reason to pause,” says Ron.
To get the Kearny Marsh, take Schuyler Avenue to Gunnell Oval in Kearny, and then drive half-way around the perimeter, to the open area across from the ballfields.
You can carry your kayak or canoe the short distance to the marsh, and you are ready to go. Just be sure to wear a life vest and bring sunscreen, water and a cellphone (in case of an emergency).
If you’re not a paddler, you can still enjoy the marsh and its wildlife by walking along the trail that parallels the marsh’s edge from Gunnell Oval all the way to Bergen Avenue.
The N.J. Meadowlands Commission and two volunteer groups are sponsoring a two-hour clean-up at the Kearny Marsh on Sunday, June 3. We will clean the trails by foot, and the marsh by canoe. We’ll meet at the northeast corner of the Gunnell Oval off Schuyler Avenue at 10 a.m. (directions are on meadowblog.net in the left-hand column).