Oswego County is crisscrossed with scenic navigable waterways and borders Great Lake Ontario and beautiful Oneida Lake. A variety of ponds, reservoirs, small lakes, streams, and rivers provide memorable experiences for canoers, kayakers and rafters of all skill levels.
Read first-hand experiences:
Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area/Camp Zerbe
Location: Towns of Williamstown, Albion, Parish, Amboy.
- St. Mary’s Pond: Access from St. Mary’s Road.
- Whitney Pond: Access from Happy Valley Road.
- Lake Lorraine : access at Camp Zerbe NYS Rte. 104.
Notes: Novice. Scenic, secluded ponds in Wildlife Management Area maintained by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Location: City of Fulton and Town of Granby. Access from Bullhead Point, North Bay Recreation Area, and Lake Road.
Location: Coastal areas of the towns of Oswego, Scriba, New Haven, Mexico, Richland and Sandy Creek, and the City of Oswego harbor area. Public access at Wright’s Landing Marina, Selkirk Shores State Park (Pine Grove State Boat Launch) and Mexico Point State Boat Launch.
Notes: Novice – Expert. Several marshes along the lake are navigable, such as Butterfly Swamp in the Town of New Haven and Deer Creek Marsh in the Town of Richland. North & South Ponds in the Town of Sandy Creek provide protection from rougher water. Use caution and stay comfortably close to shore. Lake Ontario is an inland sea which can present overwhelming dangers during adverse weather conditions.
Little Salmon River
Location: Towns of Parish and Mexico. Access from Rte. 69, west of the Village of Parish and continue to the Village of Mexico, or access at Mexico Point.
Notes: Novice – Intermediate from Parish to Mexico. Take-out point on the right-hand bank before the dam in Mexico. Permission must be obtained from owner to take out canoes and park vehicles.
Expert from the Village of Mexico to Lake Ontario. If the water level is high enough, trip may continue to Mexico Point with portage (this section is recommended for experienced canoeists only).
Lower Salmon River Reservoir
Location: Town of Orwell. Access at the day use picnic area across from Bennetts Bridge Hydropower Facility on Co. Rte. 22.
Notes: Novice. Great for beginner canoeists, kayakers and those who want to take it slow.
North Sandy Pond
Location: Northwest corner of Oswego County in the town of Sandy Creek, west of St. Rte. 3. Access by public boat launches at Bayview Marina, Hidden Harbor and Jones Marina; and private boat launches at AAA North Country Mercantile & Lodging, D. Senior Marina, Greene Point Marina Inc., North Sandy Pond Marina, Reiter’s Marina and Seber Shores Marina.
Notes: Novice. 4.5 sq. mile pond with a 15 foot maximum depth, separated from Lake Ontario by a strip of sand dunes. Marshy areas with a variety of wildlife, as well as summer cottages along the shoreline. Excellent beginner area, but use caution as storms come off Lake Ontario and create a strong chop.
Location: Towns of West Monroe and Constantia. Access at Phillips Point – off Toad Harbor Road in West Monroe, Constantia Town Park, Brewerton State Pier and Godfrey Point, one mile east of Cleveland on Rte. 49.
Notes: Novice. Use caution. This is a large lake subject to storms and winds that produce high waves, also boat wakes. The Erie Canal runs through the center of the lake, east to west and is marked by navigational buoys.
Oneida River and NYS Barge Canal
Location: Towns of Hastings and Schroeppel. Access at Brewerton State Pier, or just below the dam in Caughdenoy.
Notes: Intermediate. Use caution near Caughdenoy Dam. Navigable from Brewerton to Three Rivers through Lock 23.
Location: Towns of Schroeppel, Granby, Volney, Scriba and Minetto; Cities of Fulton and Oswego. Access points at Three Rivers; Lock Street, Phoenix; Ox Creek, Granby; Apple Landing (Stop 28) & Great Bear Farm, Volney; Canal Park Marina, City of Fulton; and other areas.
Notes: Intermediate – Expert. Use caution near dams, after heavy rains and in early spring. High water level produces swift current and high winds may produce white caps. Travel through locks is subject to the discretion of the locktender and recommended for experts only.
Check out Oswego Paddlefest and Rock the Locks at www.oswegopaddlefest.com
Salmon River Reservoir
Location: Towns of Redfield and Orwell. Access points at Jackson Road, C.C.C. Drive – off Co. Rte. 2 in Orwell, Co. Rte. 17 and Little America Fishing & Boat Access.
Notes: Novice. Use extreme caution near the dam. Parking available. Picnic tables available at C.C.C. Drive.
Location: Towns of Albion and Richland, Village of Pulaski. Access points at South Albion Road, Pineville Bridge, Pineville Fishing & Boat Access, Pine Grove at Port Ontario, and Salmon River Lighthouse and Marina in Pulaski.
- Kayaking: Access from the Bridge Street launch in Altmar and the Co. Rte. 48 launch in Pineville.
Notes:Expert. Use caution. Many sections are not navigable due to white water and should be portaged. The area below the Reliant Energy hydroelectric plants and dam is subject to sudden and dangerous fluctuations due to releases necessary for power generation. Kayaking: One of the best white water kayaking rivers in Upstate New York. Conditions are dependent upon water releases from the Lighthouse Hill Hydropower Facility. Changing water levels can create rapids of varying classes. Information concerning water releases can be obtained by calling 1-900-726-4243 ext. 365123 (This is a toll call).
Sunset Oswego Harbor Kayak Tours
Big Bear Country Store and Restaurant
686 Co. Rte. 27
Canoe rentals for $40 a day.
Wright’s Landing Marina
Read a first-hand experience from staff member, Kara Alheim here
Adventure Calls Outfitters Website
Guided whitewater rafting trips on the Salmon River during scheduled release weekends in July and August. Reservations required.
Directions to Salmon River Base:
Pulaski, NY 13142
Phone: 800-443-RAFT (7238)
Participants should be at least 8 years of age.
- New York State law requires that all boaters have access to a personal flotation device which should be worn at all times.
- Remember that all water is dangerous. Exposure to cold water may be life-threatening. Standing up in a canoe is not advisable.
- Do not approach dam areas too closely on either the upstream or downstream sides. You could be pulled into the sluiceway or otherwise lose control of your canoe if the gates were opened unexpectedly.
- Do not use intoxicants while boating.
- Respect the rights of property owners and obtain permission before crossing private lands.
- Remember that once you reach your destination, you may have to paddle your canoe just as far in the opposite direction, perhaps against the wind or heavy current. Plan ahead! Hungry, thirsty, cold, tired, and after dark canoeing may be more of an adventure than you had anticipated.
- Know your limits and your ability. Use good judgment at all times.