Black River (Watertown, New York)
7 miles (or park and play) of class 2-4
The best and most reliable summertime playboating in the United States can be found on the Black River. Upstream of Watertown is the Route 3 Wave, an easy surf allowing spins and low angle blunts. There is not consensus regarding what exact conditions cause the wave to be good, but there is consensus on the fact that the river has to be low (summer levels); don’t go only for Route 3 Wave but think of it as an added bonus to your trip if it is in. Right in downtown Watertown is Hole Brothers, a gently retentive ledge hole and wave that is playable at all levels. This spot is a bit more difficult than Route 3 Wave but still a very friendly place for cartwheels and the like. If park and play is not your style, through Watertown is the Black River Gorge, a class 3-4 big water run that is paddleable year-round. The lower gorge requires a special dam release to run, but anyone can call ahead and schedule one: (315) 788-9121. Make sure you scout all the big drops and be wary of undercuts and big holes throughout the run.
To reach these spots first use your map to get to Watertown. Route 3 Wave is downstream from the Route 3 Bridge about three miles east of the city center. As you approach the bridge from the south turn left onto Huntington Street, then turn right into the Waterway parking lot, park, walk down to the river, and paddle upstream to the wave. The gorge run and Hole Brothers are both immediately adjacent to the city center. One put-in for the gorge run is downstream of the Route 11 bridge (at the large dam/falls) on river left via a rafting operation (on Newell Street). Hole Brothers can be accessed further downstream on Newell Street by the Paddle Hut (west of the Route 12 bridge). To reach the takeout for the gorge run drive north across the Route 12 bridge and immediately turn left (downstream) onto Route 12E. Follow this road about five miles downstream and just after you pass Bridge Street on the left, turn left and park at the Paper Company there. There is river access just downstream of the Bridge Street bridge (on river right).
Beaver River (Belfort, New York)
sections of class 3-5
Though totally harnessed for hydroelectric power, these sections of the Beaver River do have recreational releases a few times a year. The schedules are available on the American Whitewater website. Typically there are two releases per recreation day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, on different sections of river.
The Taylorville section has several slides and is appropriate for neophyte creek-boaters (easy class 4). It ends with two good surf waves. The Moshier section has many technical drops, especially at the beginning and the end. This section has fewer releases than the others but has a wider appeal to many paddlers (class 3-5). The Eagle section is wicked steep … as in 500 feet per mile steep. Bring low volume creeking experience and expect very big drops (class 5).
Getting to the Beaver is not easy, and these directions may sound intimidating, but on a release weekend it’s easy to follow the crowds, and there are many boaters who know where to go. Just ask. To get you started: Use the Moose River directions to head towards Old Forge, but before you get there turn right off of 28 and onto Big Moose Road in the town of Eagle Bay. Stay on this windy, slow road for a while (about eight miles). In the village of Big Moose turn right onto Stillwater Big Moose Road. This road eventually takes you along the southern shore of Stillwater Reservoir. After about nine miles turn left onto Number Four Road and follow it until you can turn right onto Moshier Road (about six miles). Take the first left off Moshier Road for the Moshier Section takeout. The second left off Moshier Road leads to the put-in. To reach the Eagle section, continue west on Number Four Road. Take your first left onto Stillwater Road (after about one mile) and then your first right onto Buck Point Road (after another mile). Then after mile take your first left onto Soft Maple Road. Within 2.5 miles you come to the Eagle section. The put-in is accessible via a sharp right onto an access road. Some paddlers take out a half mile further down on Soft Maple Road, but many just park and drop from the put-in. To reach the Taylorville Section continue west on Soft Maple Road (though a windy and turny section) for about six miles and then turn right onto Hogsback Road. After a couple miles this road becomes Effley Falls Road. Turn right onto Belfort Road (about 4.5 miles after the Hogsback Road turn), cross the Beaver River, and make another quick right turn onto Old State Road. Taylorville Road will be on your right shortly. The takeout is reached first at the power plant release station, and further up the road is the put in at the dam.
Bottom Moose River (Mckeever, New York)
3.5 miles of class 4-5
Two words sum up the Bottom Moose: free vertical. The drops are huge, the consequences less so. Though there are several spots that routinely trip up indiscrete paddlers. The first half is runnable on natural flow at most levels. The second half requires a dam release, of which there are many during the year. For release schedules see the American Whitewater website. Though runnable down to about 2.5 feet on the USGS stream gage, a more cushioned run can be had at 3.2 feet and up. Above 5.0 feet no release is required to run the second half.
To reach the Moose, take Route 4 west to New York. Turn right onto Route 149 in Fort Ann. Then turn right onto Route 9 North, heading toward lake George. In Lake George bear left to stay on Route 9 North (not Route 9N North). After a few more miles turn left onto Route 28. Stay on Route 28 (not Route 28N) for a long time. You’ll pass through Old Forge, and continue west toward Mckeever. After you cross the Moose turn right onto Moose River Road. After several miles on Moose River Road turn right onto North South Road. Next turn left onto Pennysett Road, followed soon after by a right onto Fowlersville Road. This road will take you to the put-in bridge. Walk downstream to check out the intidmidating Fowlersville Falls.
To reach the takeout head back out on Fowlersville Road and take your first right onto Hunkins Road. After about a mile on Hunkins bear right and in a short while you’ll be at the dam halfway through the run in Lyonsdale. Continue downstream (bearing left in Lyonsdale) on Lyonsdale Road. After two miles the power station will be on your right. Sign in here so they’ll keep the water on for you. Continue on Lyonsdale Road and then turn right onto Davis Bridge Road. Cross the river and make your first right down a small gravel road to the takeout.
The Lower section, which ends at the put in for the Bottom, is easier (class 3-4), longer (eight miles), and requires more water (3.5 feet minimum). It is a good intermediate alternative to the Bottom. The put-in is off Moose River Road. If the Moose is running too high for your liking but you still want to go creeking, check out the Independence. It is the next basin north of the Moose and has some great class 3-4 drops and one huge class 5 slide.
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