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Canoeing & Kayaking in Rochester, NY
Your comments, suggestions, and additions are welcome. Let me know if you find the directory useful. Max Lent Max Lent .
Places to Paddle
Although the Rochester "International" Airport is nearby and although planes fly overhead frequently, this is a pretty area to canoe. The swampy areas have partially preserved tree stumps with beautiful mosses and ferns growing on the. Since Black Creek is flatwater and close to the city it is a great place for beginning canoers to explore and practice their paddling techniques.
If you have made it further west, send me a report of your trip and I may incorporate it into this description. Black Creek can also be canoed near Spencerport. See the description of that section in the Canoeing and kayaking in upstate New York Web page.
I've heard about this route from friends and everyone seems to like it.
Comment: 4/97. "Thank you for your listings with annotations for the various canoe routes. I have searched for four years for this type of compilation and was about to attempt one myself. In regards to the Ellison Park/Irondequoit Creek route: It is often blocked by fallen branches and four-inch diameter limbs. Last summer (1996) I spent a considerable time clearing a path to allow my Winonah Spirit II and a Swift rented from Bay Creek to barely pass. There is a large amount of man made garbage along the creek. This trip could be hairy in the Spring or after a large rain storm. / Malcolm Musiker, Pittsford, NY." Malcom, thank you for cutting a path through the fallen branches. I've often wondered who the unsung heroes were who have made my canoeing days more enjoyable.
Comment: 9/2/98 " An update for the Rochester area. Did Irondequoit Creek from the bay, Sunday. There are two rental liveries on the bay now. Most interesting innovation is the barrier towards the end of the marsh that limits passage to boats with less than 5' beam. That is what the sign said, but it was fairly tight in a 36" canoe. Julian Yudelson
Erie Canal, Rochester, NY. The Erie or New York State Barge Canal is navigable by canoe for its entire 300 mile length. However, it is the section of the canal that travels through Rochester that is important to this section. Canoeists may find the canal boring because there isn't much to see from the water. The banks are high, so it is impossible to see the city, suburbs, or country that it passes through. That is not to say that there is nothing to see along the canal. It is rich with wildlife and plants. It also passes through some scenic towns and villages. The trade off is that the canal is pure flatwater. There is no swift current or rocks to watch out for. There are no canoe eating swells to content with. And, the banks partially protect the canal from winds, most of the time.
Looking at a map of Rochester you will see the canal crossed my numerous streets. Nearly all of the streets have nearby parking and suitable areas for putting a canoe on the water. Using car shuttles, it is possible to select routes of varying lengths and canoe from point to point.
A fun evening canoe is to put in at Pittsford, NY and paddle east or west as far as you like. Then return to Pittsford and have dinner at one of the nearby restaurants.
Reader Comment: "Came across your website detailing canoeing in the Rochester area. Very interesting and informative -- thanks for providing this.
One trip listed was the Erie canal. I would agree with your description, but would like to add a caution:
Especially along the Great Embankment section of the canal (between Pittsford and Bushnell's Basin), the canal is lined with concrete walls. These are sometimes vertical and of considerable height. Beware that should a powerboat pass through these areas and generate a wake, the resulting waves will simply rebound off the walls and take a long time to dissipate. Consequently, some large standing waves can be generated that could capsize the unwary. In addition, should you turn your canoe into a wake to avoid broadsided, be aware of the rebound of the wave off the canal wall; my wife and I (pretty experienced) didn't anticipate this and were nearly flipped when the return wake caught us unprepared! Should you capsize in this part of the canal, the walls are too high to climb, and the ladders are spaced a long swim apart -- wear your PFD should you canoe these sections!
Interestingly, where the canal is lined with rocks and boulders, wakes and waves are rapidly dissipated. Where there are walls, I have seen wakes and waves persist for 10-15 minutes!" Thomas Dannhauser, Pittsford, NY.
South of the Ford Street bridge, the Genesee river is safe to paddle. There are signs warning boaters not to go past the bridge.
South of the Elmwood Avenue bridge the river is relatively safe to paddle. Just south of the bridge is a recreation center that rents canoes during the summer. From that put in, canoers can paddle south on the river all the way to Letchworth State Park where a dam and falls require a long portage.
Canoers can also paddle south less than a mile to the Erie Canal. Going East on the canal Red Creek turns off to the south in a few hundred yards. Canoers can paddle all the way to the Atlantic Ocean by continuing east. Heading west, canoers can paddle all the way to Buffalo and on to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie through the Welland Canal.
Bring your binoculars. The variety of birds visiting the ponds changes with the seasons, but you should see geese, herons, ducks, and many other kinds of birds during the canoe season. To learn more about the birds and wildlife of the ponds visit the Nature Center on Pond Rd. Our favorite times to visit the ponds are late afternoon and evening and on weekdays. You may want to consider bringing a book, putting your paddle under your seat and just floating around the ponds all day. Let the breezes push your canoe to unexplored areas.
During the summer, when the city is hot and muggy, the air still, and the days long, we like to paddle out from shore at Webster Park and watch the sunset. We don't go out if there are waves strong winds, it isn't worth the risk. The best time to go is early evening when the lake winds become calm and the water flat. Even then, it is a good idea to go out with another boat. Gentle swells are OK, but can lead to seasickness. Picnicking in the park before or after venturing out on the lake is also enjoyable. If you plan to picnic, bring insect repellent. If you go to the park on a weekend you may not enjoy some of the loud parties picnicking in the park. The often bring professional portable stereos that blast throughout the park. On the other hand, if you are gregarious, try crashing a party or two. Showing up wearing a canoe on your shoulders is always a conversation starter.
Paddling the along the shoreline, both east and west, is also enjoyable. We enjoy looking at the mansions along the shore and watching birds.
Order these books right now.
Canoe Guide to Western & Central New York State. Mark Freeman, Series Editor. Alice Broberg and Dan Zwicke, Regional Coordinators. Published by the Adirondack Mountain Club, Inc., Lake George, NY. ISBN 0-935272-59-3.
Quiet Water Canoe Guide, New York. John Hayes and Alex Wilson. 1996. Published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston. MA. ISBN1-878239-51-1.
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