Harlem River Bridges

First visits to: Throg’s Neck Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Riker’s Island Bridge, Hell Gate BridgeRobert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge (Randall’s Island to Queens); [name] Bridge (under construction)

Repeat visit to: Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge (Manhattan to Roosevelt Island); Ward’s Island (Randall’s Island) Bridge

Route Map – 14.5 miles     More photos on Facebook       (click on any image for a larger view)

Our expedition: Luis M, Nick B (behind), Rosalba, Larry L, me (RaNae), Violet D, Bob, Carlos N, and Derrick M from our launch site at Fort Totten, with the Throg’s Neck Bridge in the background.

Saturday, September 29 we paddled from Fort Totten to the Long Island City Community Boathouse (LICCB) with 7 members of Sebago Canoe Club and LICCB.  Our friend Larry L, who accompanied us on last week’s circumnavigation of Jamaica Bay, organized the trip for us, including transporting kayaks by car to and from Fort Totten.

The day got a bit of a rocky start when the 7 train shut down due to electrical problems, forcing Rosalba and I to re-route our trip to Long Island City.  Eventually we got there via the E train, where Bob and Violet picked us up.  Nevertheless, we made it to Fort Totten Park in time for our 11:00 launch.

Bridge #1 for the day was the Throg’s Neck Bridge.

The Throg’s Neck Bridge, from Fort Totten Park

After passing under the Throg’s Neck, we paddled past amazing waterfront properties along College Point en route to the Whitestone Bridge.

The Whitestone Bridge

After passing the Whitestone Bridge we had to make a decision, whether to go north past Riker’s Island — where the prison is — or to go south of it in order to pass under the Riker’s Island Bridge. We weren’t sure if the bridge was a restricted area, but decided to go for it and hope for the best.

In order to take that route, we had to paddle past the end of one of the runways at LaGuardia Airport.  It was pretty wild watching planes take off right over our heads.  It felt as if you could hook your paddle over the landing gear and fly away.

As it turns out, we were able to pass under the Riker’s Island Bridge.

The Riker’s Island Bridge

We decided to stop for lunch at Barretto Point Park (the appeal of clean flush toilets was irrestible). Not only did this give us a rest, but it let a bit of time pass so we would not be going through Hell Gate at full ebb tide, which, as NYC kayakers know, can be a pretty wild ride.

A barge was coming down the channel behind us around North Brother Island, so we waited for it to pass in an inlet off the northeast corner of Randall’s Island where we spotted another bridge, this one currently closed for reconstruction.  That’s Nick, one of the trip directors from LICCB and a super-experienced kayaker, who represented LICCB on the trip.  [name of this bridge?]

Once the barge passed, we headed into Hell Gate. We have heard many stories about how treacherous the current can be here, so we were quite glad to find it relatively calm. The bridge is beautiful, and we got a fantastic view of both the Hell Gate Bridge and the Triborough Bridge as we passed.

The Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough) Bridge has three spans. Rosalba passed under the Manhattan-Randall’s Island span on the Manhattan circumnavigation but we had not yet visited this span, which goes from Randall’s Island to Queens.

Coming around the bottom of Randall’s Island, we got this beautiful view of the Ward’s Island (Randall’s Island) Bridge.  (Rosalba visited it on the Manhattan circumnavigation, but it was at night so the pictures didn’t turn out.)

Traveling south from Randall’s Island, we took the western channel past Roosevelt Island, passing under the Manhattan span of the Queensboro Bridge.

Finally, making a hook around the south end of Roosevelt Island, we arrived back at LICCB.  We quickly stowed our gear and took off because the Gowanus Dredgers’ fundraiser was that night.

It was another fantastic day of kayaking. (Did I mention the air was cool and the water was warm?) Thank you Larry for setting this up, to LICCB for their generous assistance and to everyone who joined us.  See you on the water again soon!


First visits to: Wards Island (Randall’s Island) Bridge, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly Triborough Bridge), Willis Ave Bridge, Third Ave Bridge, Park Ave Bridge, Madison Ave Bridge, 145th St Bridge, Macombs Dam Bridge, High Bridge, Alexander Hamilton Bridge (Cross Bronx Expressway), Washington Bridge, University Heights Bridge, Broadway Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge, Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, George Washington Bridge.

Repeat visits to: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Roosevelt Island Bridge. 

Route Map – Total 30 miles   (click on any image to enlarge)

On September 15, 2012 I (Rosalba) did the Manhattan circumnavigation! It was an another legend…dary adventure! Unfortunately RaNae was in California and it was impossible for her enjoy the trip with me and the Long Island City Boathouse group this time.

It is known that NYC changes its dress at night, but rather than lights and skyscrapers, it is dressed with bridges and Nature…water and trees. A lot. Incredible. A natural question arose in my mind: are you sure that it is NYC? Yes, also this is NYC!

Ten boats left Long Island City at 9:00 starting the circumnavigation of the island toward the north. The East River was quiet and the temperature not too cold. This held until about 2:00 am, when the night on the river began to show us its depth and the temperature went down.

During the first part of the trip we encountered 16 bridges (see the list above), most of them on the Harlem River. Arriving at the top of Manhattan, we turned toward south on the Hudson River. On this last river there are not so many bridges – we crossed “only” the George Washington Bridge.

Unfortunately, because it was night, and we were floating on water, few of the pictures turned out.  I have beautiful photos in my memory, however.

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During the trip we had four breaks; the last at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, with the intention to await the sunrise.

Finally, we arrived at the point where we started around 8:30 a.m.. We logged 21 bridges – 16 new markers in our list.

Thank you to RaNae because I would never have done this without her encouragement and planning.

Thank you LIC Boathouse, especially Ted G, for making it happen!