Black, New York, US
5. Hawkinsville to Norton Road
||III (for normal flows)
Surfing the creekboat
Surfing the creekboatPhoto of Jim D by Adrian V taken 06/19/05 @ 6.4 ft
Big Thanks To Ward Dailey For The Following River Description. We will see if we can't run
this a few times and get some nice photos to add.
The highest level known to have been paddled on this section was 16 feet by Scott Bush, Chris
Marriott, and the reverend Juy Rocker. They described it as huge wave trains and holes non-stop.
I have run this section as high as eleven feet, and hundreds of times in the 7 ft to 9 ft range;
4.5 to 5 is as low as you want without leaving a trail. Optimum level is 7.3 feet.
The put-in for this section is river right just upstream of the old stone bridge abutments in the
hamlet of Hawkinsville. (100 yards upstream of the putin is a dam I had a humbling experience
trying to run; leave it alone!) You can park on top of the abutment. Walk down the bank, towards
the dam. Watch out for glass, as the local kids like to party here.
Once in your boat slide out of the eddy into the current past the abutment, 50 ft downstream of
you is a large surf wave-hole, with a big eddy to the right. Catch the eddy and from there you
can ferry onto the wave. When you're finished playing, start downstream, go between the center
piers, catch the eddy behind the left one; as you look upstream there is a ledge drop 40 ft in
front of you--it can be possessive.
If you're not sure of your abilities leave it alone and spin around; face downstream. In essence
this is your line. What's in front of you is 300 yards of rapids class 3 to 4+; the line is
always the same at all levels. Just left of center, there are 3 ledge drops--hit them straight,
with speed you will slide thru, sideways or slow and you will be surfing. A swim here will be
painful at best. A note on this section on river right 300 yards from the bridge -- at levels of
10 feet and above, a large hydraulic forms from a ledge. The locals call it The Whirlpool. You
don't want to be in a boat in it. At that level the hole reminds me a lot of the whales back on
the Lower Moose ---
so stay left of center all the way to the flat water.
Here comes the bad part, now that you had a ball on the 300 yards of rapids: you have 1.5 miles
of flatwater, with a small class-2 ripple halfway down. The rapids begin when the first house
appears on your right shore. What's in front of you is 3/4 mile plus of nonstop boulder-strewn
class 3 to 3+ rapids. There is an island part-way down; go left of the island. At all levels stay
left of center--at 8 feet and above there are some substantial pourovers in this section. At the
end of this rapid there is a huge eddy (big enough to park a tractor trailer in it) on river
At this point the river takes a 90-degree turn to the left. The 765kv power line crosses this
section, hence its name is Power Line. This rapid is approx. 400 yards long and can be technical.
I consider Power Line to be the most demanding section. From the eddy you get a good view of
what's coming, the move is to do an upstream ferry across to river left. This rapid does change
with water level; at 6 to 8, the line is from the eddy to approx 20 feet off of the river left
shore. Lots of pourover in the center, so stay left 'til you see a Humvee-sized rock directly in
front of you. This rock is undercut (at levels of 10 feet the rock disappears and forms a big
pourover); move to center approx. 100 feet in front of it and punch the hole that forms beside
it. At 7.3, this is great surf wave. About 9 feet and above, big bad holes form in this
section--if it looks like a hole it probably is.
Now that you have punched the hole next to the Humvee-sized boulder, you are in fast - flat -
deepwater and you will notice that the rock formation has changed. The boulder garden that you
had been having so much fun with is gone and limestone appears. This section is 100 yards long.
The limestone banks are undercut, very similar to Clubhouse Turn (Burns Wall) in Watertown. In
front of you is an obvious horizon line, formed by a slide. This slide has a huge boulder garden
sitting on limestone on river right, don't go there. Go left. As you approach the slide you will
see a 60-foot cliff on your left with a waterfall dropping off of it--that's your target. Stay
approx. 10 feet off of the left shore at the top. Now follow the curve of the river to the
bottom. There are some pourovers on this slide.
There is an eddy both on river right below the boulder garden or up against the cliff on river
left. There is a surf wave depending on the level at the top of the eddy. From here head
downstream. Stay to river left following the cliffs for several hundred yards into flat water.
The cliffs disappear and in front of you on river right you will see a large dumptruck-sized
boulder with the words "slide rock" painted on it. This begins the next rapid called
Cliffside. Approx 1 mile long and ends at the Boonville Moose River Road bridge. It is class 2+
to 3+. Stay next to the river right cliffs at the top, through some nice wave trains and 200
yards the river swings to the left. You will see three large boulders in the middle of the river;
move to the left around them, following the cliffs on the left.
When the cliffs stop you are in a section 400 yards long with class 2-3+ rapids. Move to the
right. There are camps on both sides of the river. At the end of this section is the Boonville
Moose River Road bridge; the gauge for the Hawkinsville section is to the river left of this
bridge. Once under the bridge, move back to center.
The last section starts 200 yards below this bridge; it is a long section of close to 1 mile in
length. It begins with a large boulder right of center. The vast majority of river goes to the
right of this boulder. As you go past it, limestone slabs appear on the right shore. The river
pushes against these slabs and they are very much so undercut. As a matter of fact, during low
water there are actually caves beneath them that people climb in. Stay just 10 feet off of the
right shore past the slabs.
From here down to flat water is class 2 to 2+ rapids. Pick your own route; the possibilities are
endless and no consequence.
The bay at the end of this rapid deserves some mention. Someplace in the bay Sugar River, which
goes underground a half-mile from the confluence with the Black, re-enters. The caves along and
below Sugar River were used extensively during the years of the Underground Railroad to hide
escaped slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. Blasting from the Barrettes Stone Quarry has
made exploration unsafe and illegal.
Mill Creek, which flows through Boonville, also empties here on river left. One last rapid /
playspot is called Hammond's Hole. A red granite outcropping stretches across the river. This
outcropping forms some nice surf waves from 6 to 7.3 feet on river right and a nice hole on river
left. There is a large eddy on river left to set up from.
After Hammond's Hole it's flatwater for 1 mile to the Norton Road bridge; take out is on river
left just below the bridge. Walk up the bank, across the bridge and straight into my driveway. If
I'm home there is always coffee.
See you on the water, Ward Dailey
Lat/longitude coords verified by GPS.
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Last Updated: 2013-02-06 17:21:05