Black, New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-V (varies with level)|
|BLACK RIVER AT WATERTOWN NY|
|usgs-04260500||1000 - 6000 cfs||V||01h39m||8860 cfs (too high)|
|People will boat the Black at this level, but it's "Too High" for mere mortals who don't know the river very well.|
Getcher Moose Fest
Newspaper here! (pdf file, 1.5 MB)
Safety Warning: Pinning Rock at Knife's Edge Rapid!
The pinning spot, affectionately known as "Molly's Crack," is at the left edge of the second (last) major hole. Paddlers who don't go far enough left (i.e., close enough to the first hole) risk getting swept into the pin. As of June 2007, at least six kayaks have been stuffed into this dangerous spot. Be careful here! Scout this rapid carefully; preferably, run it with someone who's familiar with it. Click here for a photo.
To putin: Take Interstate 81 North. Exit on Rte. 12-F, heading East toward
Near the center of the town, take a Left at the lights onto City Center Drive.
Soon after that, hang a Left onto Whitewater Way.
Park at the parking lot there, and play at Hole Brothers.
(Or you can walk up to the rafting shop, head through the gate, put in there, and get one more rapid with a couple of play waves...and then play at Hole Bros.)
To takeout: Head out to Rte. 12-F, heading Right (back toward Rte. 81).
After about three miles or so, bang a Right onto Rte. 12-E, toward Brownville.
Cross the bridge, and grab the first Left. Park on the street. From the river, you'll see the takeout as a flatwater spot just after a large industrial plant on River Right.
Note: this reach used to be described as "Watertown to Dexter." Rafters might paddle all the way to Dexter, butt kayakers always take out at Brownville.
Safety Warning and description of Knife's Edge Rapid
by Bridog, posted to the Northeast Paddlers' Massage Board:
Knife's Edge is the first significant rapid that you encounter as you paddle downriver from Hole Brothers. You will find it approximately 200 yards downstream from the Interstate-81 bridge. There are numerous eddies on both river left and river right, including a "last chance" eddy on river left right at the top of the drop. The left side works for portaging/scouting at ALL levels, and the right side generally works in the summertime.
The rapid is basically a shallow fast section with a bit of gradient, and 3 "ledges". Depending on water level, boaters will choose different lines.
High Water (>5000 cfs): You can run "Right-right-right" (river right side, all 3 drops. The last drop will have a large/powerful hole (Mary's Hole) (or is it MERRY's Hole?). Just hug the stone wall on river right and you'll have no problem.
Medium Water (2000-5000 cfs): You can run "True Path" or "B-line Skate". Both routes start the same: Run the 1st drop either all the way left or at the "point" formed by the two diagonal ledges, or anywhere in between. At low levels, the point may be best because it won't be as scrapey. The 2nd ledge forms a wave/hole in river center. You'll want to sneak by it on the river-left side. Once past it, you can make a choice: Ferry over to the river right side and run the 3rd drop river-right of Mary's Hole (B line skate), or run True Path. To run True Path, you are essentially "threading the needle" between 2 hydraulics: The diagonal extending out from river left, and Mary's Hole in river center. It will look like there is a wide and easy pathway between the two, but that is where this pinning hazard is located. So you'll want to clip the corner (right side) of that diagonal coming out from the left (known as the Heater), or just miss it. Get too far river-right, and you potentially could get hurt.
You won't want to run all the way right (Right-right-right) at these medium levels - very scrapey over there.
Low water (<2000 cfs): There aren't a lot of choices, because there isn't a lot of water. You won't be able to run B-line skate, because there's no water over there. You can definitely run True Path, and you can even punch a pretty big piece of the Heater, because at low water, it isn't that burly of a hole (still powerful though, so T-up, and paddle like you mean it!). Another option at these lower flows is to run right over the "point" of the last ledge, essentially into the meat of Mary's Hole. That hole isn't so ugly at low water, and you can actually boof off that ledge and skip over the foam pile.
IMPORTANT: Downstream of the 3rd ledge-drop on the river left shore, there is a significant undercut. Known as "Shaw's Wall," this is a spot to avoid. If you have run True Path, you will be headed right for it, so make sure to either: (A) Catch the eddy on river left ABOVE Shaw's Wall, or to (B) paddle to the right aggressively to avoid that spot.
Sorry if that was long-winded, but I wanted to clear the air about that rapid - every single time I take a paddler down the Black for their first time, they are positively FREAKED out by Knife's Edge. It is a FUN rapid for a competent intermediate paddler that has good boat control. Try to run it with someone who knows it and can show you the lines, and don't get too worked up. Just recognize the hazards, most importantly this pinning hazard to the right of True Path (in the 3rd drop), and the undercut wall downstream. Beyond those 2, there isn't a lot there to really ruin your day.
Thanks, Bridog! You da boater!
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|2.3||Inner City Strife||IV|
|2.8||Glen Park Falls||IV+|
|3.6||Rocket Ride / Poop Chute||II|
|4.1||Shave & a Haircut||III|
This is a big-&-burly playspot when the Black is running really high (ca. 10,000 cfs or higher). Just downstream of Knife Edge, it is accessible by Rte. 12E, North of the river. Look for the big blue building (Torres Auto Repair); park on the road next to the river, head on out, and surf yer braims owwwt!
Update: Since spring 2011 ICS has not reappeared. The wave behind ICS does come in above 20,000cfs.
The Rocket Ride, a sloping drop across an old dam, covers most of the river. It's so scary, you'd better run it backwards. The Poop Chute is a narrow and squirrelly line on the right. Try to run it upright, and don't get mashed up against the Wailing Wall below.