Canoeing The Upper Susquehanna River

In mid August I had the opportunity to paddle a portion of the upper Susquehanna river here in New York. In all honesty I really never thought much about it. When a friend suggested we do it I was intrigued.

We launched  from the Crumhorn Pond/Susquehanna State Forest a few miles north of Portlandville, NY. Upon arrival I was shocked to see a Waterway Steward at the launch site checking boats for invasive species and washing them before they enter the water. In the Adirondacks I have seen many of these stewards but not so much around here. I think this is a great program!

The morning was warm and sunny as we slid our canoes into the water making our way from Crumhorn Pond into the Susquehanna. This section of the river differs immensely from where I live. The river is narrow and has more water due to the dam on Goodyear Lake. I loved the way the river snaked its way through the rural farm land of Central New York, throwing in a few hairpin turns just for fun.

Paddling north 4 miles to where the Cherry Valley Creek enters the river, we hung a right hand turn exploring the creek for about a mile. One spot we had to navigate a narrow passage due to a fallen tree across the creek. Shortly after we came to a point where we had to exit our boats due to low water and a small rock garden. We decided to take a break and have a snack and chat here for a bit before turning around and heading back. “Cherry Valley Creek is a 34.1-mile-long headwater tributary of the Susquehanna River in central New York. Cherry Valley Creek flows southwesterly through the Cherry Valley in Otsego County, making its way through the towns of Cherry Valley, Roseboom, and Middlefield before joining the Susquehanna River east of the village of Milford”.

On our way back that beautiful sunshine gave way to some storm clouds. We could hear thunder in the distance and we dodged a few rain drops as well. Thankfully the storm steered clear of us. As we entered Crumhorn Pond the boat launch had a few more people starting their day on the river. This was a fun 10 mile round trip adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the upper Susquehanna river in the near future.

Cheers!

Launching our canoes on Crumhorn Pond in the Susquehanna State Forest Maryland, NY August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
My friend Marty on Crumhorn Pond in the Susquehanna State Forest Maryland, NY August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
We’ve just entered the upper Susquehanna river paddling north towards Cooperstown, NY August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
Taking a break on the Cherry Valley Creek Middlefield, NY August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
Making our way back down the Cherry Valley Creek near Middlefield, NY August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
Dodging some rain and thunderstorms along the upper Susquehanna river August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo
My friend Marty eases his Northstar Phoenix around one of several hairpin turns along the upper Susquehanna river August 22nd 2020 © Joe Geronimo

Oh Canadice

It was back in the fall of 2009 when I discovered Canadice lake in the pages of “Life in the Finger Lakes” magazine. The story was called “Canoes & Kayaks on Canadice”, and I recall thinking to myself I need to go here! Finally nine years later I did.

This morning I made the two hour trip to the western Finger Lakes and Canadice lake. Canadice is the smallest of the eleven Finger Lakes. It boasts a 6.5 mile shoreline, stretches 3 miles in length, has a maximum depth of 95 feet and is only 0.3 miles at its widest. The shoreline is void of any human presence as this is the source of drinking water for the City of Rochester.

Launching under overcast skies and wind I paddled towards the north end of the lake. There was some good chop once out on the water due to the wind whipping up the lake, which oddly enough I really enjoyed. I pretty much had the lake all to myself except for one other person. Although this lake is considered small it still is a large body of water, and having the ability to paddle in these conditions helped reinforce my confidence on larger bodies of water. After about an hour the wind calmed down quite a bit and things smoothed out. Eventually I made it to the southend of the lake. This was my favorite part of the paddle. Exploring the marshy area I was treated to some of the wildlife, such as Herons, different bird species fluttering around and possibly an Otter. I couldn’t get close enough to tell as it could have been a beaver also. Bald Eagles are pretty common here but none were seen today. However the rapid succession of a Pileated Woodpecker could be heard echoing in the depths of the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

Paddling back north along the eastern shore I discovered a small car top boat launch. Here you would have to carry your boat about 100 feet from your car to the water. After getting back to where I launched, boat loaded and ready to head home I saw a truck with a trailer and 8 canoes go right by me. I thought to myself that is pretty awesome! On my way home I wanted to stop and check out that small launch I mentioned. As luck would have it there was that truck and trailer loaded with canoes parked at the launch site. Coming to a stop I noticed the lettering on the truck “Hemlock Canoes”, things just got even more exciting. I pulled over and got out. It turns out that the Hemlock Canoes shop is very close to Canadice and they were demoing boats for two potential customers. Some people stalk cars, I stalk canoes. One of those canoes I drool over is a Hemlock Peregrine. She’s 15′ 9″ and weighs in at 27 pounds and wouldn’t you know it there was one strapped to the trailer. Well you know me blah, blah, blah and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to test paddle that Peregrine. I see a new boat in my distant future.

I feel very lucky to be able to live and play in such a beautiful part of our state, cheers!

Beginning my adventure on Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
The overcast skies begin to brighten over Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Navigating through some trees along the south end of Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Emerging from the shoreline along the south end of Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Blue Heron Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Ending the days adventure on Canadice lake June 7th 2018, © Joe Geronimo

Autumn in the Air

Cool and crisp as an Autumn morning should be. This morning my cars thermometer read 38 degrees as I drove the backroads to Nanticoke lake. Arriving under a blanket of fog and now 35 degree temperatures it was time to unload my canoe and hit the water. My friend Don from Ithaca who I met last summer while paddling another area lake was joining me as well on this small hidden gem near Center Lisle. The fog seemed to roll across the lake as a slight wind kept the water from being glass like. Right before the 0659 sunrise the Canadian Navy (Canadian Geese) were doing maneuvers as well as the local beavers. One beaver in particular wasn’t too fond of me being close to his lodge and thought it would be fun to try and splash me with a few “THWACKS” of his tail, he was unsuccessful! I did however slowly back away to witness the three of them playing and pushing one another around for a short while.

The sun had finally broke over the tree tops creating pockets of beautiful color along the shoreline. The color is definitely beginning to show here and it made for a nice backdrop for a beautiful setting.

At 46 acres with a maximum depth of 20 feet, sitting at 1,400 feet of elevation, Nanticoke lake was originally constructed in the 1970’s with the intention of establishing a wild, self sustaining brook trout fishery similar to those found in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, due to low dissolved oxygen levels in the summer months, brook trout survival was extremely limited.

Notes: From the parking area to the lake is a 1/4 mile carry on a well maintained trail. Having a 17lb canoe made this extremely easy, however Don used a set of canoe wheels to wheel in his canoe into the lake.

Early morning on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Early morning on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Don Welch taking in the Autumn beauty on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Don Welch taking in the Autumn beauty on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Blue Heron on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Blue Heron on Nanticoke lake September 28th 2016. Image © Joe Geronimo.