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Paddle Oswego County’s beautiful Waterways

posted by Teresa Farrell at 2022-09-06 04:05:00

Upstate New York is home to some of the best paddling spots in the Northeast, some better known than others. With its rivers, streams and canals, Oswego County is a lesser-known gem that offers paddlers some of the most varied waterways around, conveniently located between Central New York, the Thousand Islands and the Finger Lakes region.

Whether you prefer to paddle lakes and ponds or float down rivers and streams, there are plenty of both to pick from in Oswego County. The towns of Redfield and Orwell offer access to the Salmon River Reservoir, a gorgeous open space with marshy areas and miles of shoreline and tiny islands ripe for exploration.

The town of Orwell also offers access to the Lower Salmon River Reservoir, a great place for beginners and a popular fishing spot where anglers haul in panfish, largemouth bass, brown and rainbow trout. Near Williamstown there are plenty of secluded ponds to paddle, including at the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area-- it does not allow motorized watercraft, making it a peaceful place for paddlers. You can navigate the channels around small islands on St. Mary’s Pond or explore the long, tree-lined shores of Whitney Pond. Nearby Camp Zerbe, a nature park maintained by Oswego County, offers access to Lake Lorraine via a short walk down a nature trail from the parking lot. Once you arrive at the shores of this small lake, you’ll swear you’re miles from anyone. Lake Lorraine does not allow motorized watercraft, either.

There are also plenty of local rivers and creeks to explore. Grindstone Creek runs through Selkirk Shores State Park, providing peaceful paddle through a marshy estuary perfect for early morning wildlife watching or a tranquil mid-afternoon trip. It also offers access to Lake Ontario, but be careful venturing out; the lake is large and weather, waves and boat traffic all play a part in safety considerations. Port Ontario, where the Salmon River meets Lake Ontario, is home to the Salmon River Estuary, a marshy area where birds, flowers and wildlife flourish.

Paddlers can take a leisurely trip skirting the banks and navigating around the water plants to snap a quick picture of a rare bird or woodland creature, or just bask in the tranquil atmosphere. The Oswego River and Oswego Canal also form a major paddling artery through Oswego County, with plenty of put-in and take-out points provide easy access along the length of the river. This is a section you’ll have to share with motorized boats—the canal has a series of locks which can be accessed by paddlers as well as boaters in order to ass through to the next portion of the canal, so be mindful, since they may have a harder time seeing you in a canoe or kayak, or on a paddleboard.

Wherever you’re paddling, remember to make safety a priority by wearing an approved Personal Flotation Device, or PFD, whenever you’re on the water. Remain mindful of weather and water conditions, and obey all posted warnings and instructions along the way. Be sure to paddle in places that match your skill level, exercise caution around motorized boats and on larger bodies of water where conditions can change quickly, and steer clear of dams and other obstructions.

Remember that you will have to paddle back the same distance you paddle out, so plan accordingly to ensure you have the time and energy to get back to your destination before dark; it’s always a good idea to bring along water, sunscreen and snacks. And, of course, have fun and enjoy the peaceful experience of paddling into some of the more secluded reaches of Upstate New York’s waterways.

Kayaks on beach photo credit Oswego County
Canoeing photo credit John Farrell
Deer Creek Marsh aerial view photo credit Oswego County
Fall paddling on the Oswego River photo credit Richard Drosse

posted at: 2022-09-06 04:05:00, last updated: 2022-09-08 08:13:39

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