Other Rivers and Creeks

Black River, Upper Section

Description:
 
    Black River (footnote) is a major river that drains a large area in Herkimer, Oneida,
    Lewis and  Jefferson Counties in upper New York State. The river's source 
    is from various tributaries, including North Lake and South Lake. 
    
    The river ends at the eastern end of Lake Ontario west of the City of Watertown. 
    The section included here is below  Kayuta Lake and just into Lewis County.
   
Map
Section Difficulty Distance Time Scenery Page
Hawkinsville to Norton Rd. Bridge 3+ miles 3 hrs good 77 & 85
    Trip Description: 

     The Upper Black River starts off with a bang and 
     keeps you alert during the first half of the run.
     The second half of the run is much calmer.

     After checking out the first drop from the old 
     bridge abutment at the putin, decide whether you're 
     up for a surf or not.  If you are, paddle down the 
     right side into the recirculating eddy which will 
     take you back up to the hole.  If not, ferry over 
     to the left of center and run the green tongue 
     through the hole at the bottom of the first drop 
     and go through the middle of the two bridge 
     abutments. Work your way left to run the rest of 
     this long rapid, around rocks, boulders, pourovers,
     and holes. Some of these holes can be surprisingly
     sticky,so pay attention and paddle hard when you go 
     over the drops if you don't want to go for a surf. 
     Many of these holes look like they could be fun on
     a warm day. The putin rapid is about 300 yards 
     long and is rated Class III. 

     After the putin rapid things flatten out for about
     a mile and a half.  Enjoy the scenery on this section.
     Although the water is mostly flat through here, the 
     current is generally good, so you don't have to paddle
     too hard.

     Eventually the moving water ends and you will head into
     another good section of rapids, again rated Class III.
     The route through is generally straightforward, but 
     watch out for a pourover/hole on the left near the top
     of this rapid.  Go left around the island and pick your
     way down through the rocks and boulders.  As you come 
     to the end of this rapid you will see a high voltage 
     power line on your left. You will end up in a large pool
     of moving water just before the river bends to the left
     about 120 degrees to go under the power lines.

     As you go around the bend, you will see the start of
     Powerline Rapid.  This rapid can be easily run by stay-
     ing to the left side and heading towards the small 
     waterfall coming off the left bank.  Stay away from 
     the right hand side, where there are significant 
     pourovers.  When you reach the waterfall, the river 
     bends hard back to the right. Just follow it around
     and through the waves and holes. At this point you can
     move back towards the center. Powerline is rated 
     Class II-III+ when run down the left side.

     After Powerline the characteristics of the river change
     dramatically. The valley opens up and for a short while
     there is a low limestone wall on your left.

     Soon the Moose River Road is reached, which is Access 
     Point B.  Continue on downstream, avoiding the many 
     rocks sprouting up in the rock garden. The river banks
     soon become cobble and eventually turn to mud and 
     grassy banks.

     The river flattens out and becomes fast moving water.  
     As you approach a bend to the right below the quarry 
     you will notice a nice house sitting on the inside of
     the bend. Follow the river around the bend where it 
     flows over some low rock ledges and creates some nice
     surfing waves. Enjoy these waves and imagine what it 
     would be like to have these waves right in front of 
     your house.

     When you're tired of surfing, head on downstream, where
     the fast moving water quickly delivers you to the 
     takeout and your waiting vehicle.  Take out behind the
     leftmost stone bridge pier.  Note that at high water
     levels a hole could be formed by this bridge pier, so
     adjust your plans accordingly.

         
    

    Access 
    In: 
    To get to the putin, drive north from Utica on Route 12 
    approximately 32 miles to Boonville.  Turn right (east)
    onto Woodgate Drive / Hawkinsville Road and go 2.6 miles 
    to the bridge over the Black River.  Cross over the river
    and take an immediate right onto Edmonds Road.  
    Pull over where the road bends to the left at an old 
    bridge abutment and park here. This is the putin, 
    Access point A.

    You may be attracted to the low head dam above the putin,
    but don’t even think about it. The dam has been run, 
    with unpleasant consequences.
    Access Map

          
    Out: 
    To get to the takeout from the putin, go back to Route 
    12 and turn right (north).  Go approximately 4.2 miles
    to just past the point where the road becomes a divided 
    highway. On your right is the turnoff for Norton Road.
    Turn onto Norton Road and go east approximately 1 mile
    to the bridge over the Black River. 

    There is parking on the west side of the river. Be 
    careful not to block the farmer’s access to his field.
    Note that if you are coming down Route 12 from the North
    you can not easily see the Norton Road turn because the
    highway is divided at this point. The crossover for 
    Norton Road is just before the divided highway ends.

    Access Point B, the Moose River Road Bridge, is where 
    the gauge is located. It is on the Northwest corner of 
    the bridge on the upstream side of the green and white 
    gage house.
    Access Map
        

    Hazards: This section of the river is for intermediate and 
    advanced paddlers only as there are numerous hazards
    for the less experienced paddler. See trip description
    above. Also there is a low-head dam just above the
    putin; pourovers have sticky holes.

    Water Conditions: Runnable October - May.

    Gauge: Nearest is on the Black River near Boonville.
      Minimum: 4.5’ (Optimum is 7.3’)
      Maximum: 12’ (highest known run is 16’)
      (data from New York Whitewater, Volume 2 - see below)  

    Notes:
      Scouting: None
      Portages: None
      Rescue Index: Always less than 1 mile from a road.
      Nearest Camping: Rocky’s Recreation Area south of 
      Boonville, NY (315)942-2250
      Driving Time From Binghamton: About 2 Hrs & 35 minutes.
      Source of Additional Information: 
      "New York Whitewater, Volume 2", by Dennis Squires;
      http://www.americanwhitewater.org/rivers/id/1254
 
    Acknowlegement: Bob thanks Frank Hughto-Delzer for the
      infomation presented here on the Black River.
 
footnote: Black River: The origin of the name is not known;
perhaps named from the dark color of the water do to tannic acid?
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Mar. 2006 Feb. 2010