Moose - 3. Bottom: Fowlersville to Lyons Falls

Moose, New York, US


3. Bottom: Fowlersville to Lyons Falls

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 72 fpm
Max Gradient 90 fpm


Photo of Glen Piegari by Tracy Wilson taken 10/00

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04254500 2.50 - 5.50 ft V 01h14m 2.77 ft (running)

River Description

Don't miss 2013 Spring Black Moose Fest: May 10-12. With camping and good hotel rates in Lyons Falls and Old Forge, NY, this is a great time to run the Moose when the weather's warm.

Fall Moose Fest is always the weekend after Columbus Day. In 2013, it'll be October 18-20. With events in Lyons Falls & Old Forge NY, this is great fun. The water's usually warmer than the air.

SAFETY WARNING: Beware of logs and stumps with huge root balls, specifically at Agers Falls and the Alpine Line at Crystal. You can scout both prior to the release. Alpine Lumber can only be detected from downstream (a short walk up from the takeout). Agers Lumber can be seen from river left by the fence. There is wood throughout, which can be easily missed but would be dangerous for a swimmer. (Thanks to AW Safety Chair Tim Kelley for this warning.)

All boaters planning to paddle the Bottom Moose are required to sign-in at the Fortis Hydro office (located between Agers Falls and the take-out overlooking the right left side of Crystal) before accessing the river. On release days a sign reading "Whitewater recreation sign-in" is placed by the side of the road at the entrance to the office. Click here for the details.


The Bottom Moose is perhaps the most famous, biggest, most important whitewater run in New York state--the Gauley of the North. Despite occasionally frosty or downright snowy weather, MooseFest always attracts a large crowd of boaters for the great whitewater with unique drops and the waycool indoor festival with a small-town feel.

Pool-drop? Try lake-drop! Aside from the nine rapids described below, it's all flatwater. All the gradient on this reach takes place on the nine rapids. That means that those rapids are huge.

Generally speaking, paddlers should have Class-V skills if they want to have fun on the Bottom Moose. A creek boat is recommended, especially at high water, and especially for a paddler's intro runs on the Bottom. Truth is, there's not much play on this reach anyway.

Releases occur on weekends in October and April-May. Check out Moose Fest on October 18-20, 2013!


From the West:
From the NY Thruway, take Exit 33 (Rome). Head right from the ramp, taking Rte. 365 East, toward Rome.
In Rome, follow the signs for Rte. 26 North.
Follow 26 for about 31 miles into Collinsville.
In Collinsville, you'll come to an intersection where Rte. 26 bangs Left. Don't follow 26 here; instead, head Straight onto Rte. 12D.
You'll cross Rte. 12 and follow the road you're on through town. You're now on Center St.; follow it as it curves to the Right.
After you curve around, take your first Left. Cross the Black River and bear right onto Laura St.
After about half a mile, bear Left onto Lyonsdale Rd.
To get to the takeout from here, simply take a left after about 0.3 miles onto Shibley Rd.; after crossing the Moose River, take your first Right onto the dirt road. Follow it around and park in the parking areas on River Right.
To get to the putin from Lyonsdale Rd., click on the Map or Directions tab in this page. Follow Lyonsdale Rd., bear Left onto Hunkins Rd., and take a Left at the T-intersection onto Fowlersville Rd.
You can park in the sandy parking area on River Left or cross the bridge and take the funky sandy road to putin on River Right.

If you're coming up via Rte. 12, zoom in on Port Leyden to see the roads in that area; if you're coming via Rte. 26 and 12D, zoom in on Lyons Falls. Then click on the Map tab in this page to get to the putin.  

Latitude/longitude data are verified by GPS.


And now for something completely different: ZoneDoggyDogg runs Lyon's Falls!

Click here for Karl Gesslein's view of the Bottom Moose. (Clicking will open up a new browser window.)
If you like that, check out some more drawings here, here, and here.


Click here for a collection of Youtube vids on the Bottom Moose.


Lower Moose (Class III-IV)
Middle Moose (Class III)
Black (Class III)
Independence (Class II-V+)
Otter Creek (Class III-IV[V+])

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-03-26 21:34:25


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.2Fowlersville FallsIV+Waterfall
1.9Knife's EdgeHazard
2.1Double DropIV
3.0Ager's FallsIIIWaterfall
4.9Crystal5.1Hazard Waterfall
5.1Magilla5.1Takeout Waterfall

Rapid Descriptions

Putin river right or river left, upstream of Fowlersville Falls. You can run one rapid-lite just a hundred yards above the road, if you wish--or put in at the bridge and start your day off with a Fowlersville Fling.

Fowlersville Falls (Class IV+, Mile 0.2)
Starts with a bang!
This photogenic baby is a huuuge slide, with a terminal hole in the middle. The hole is easy enough to avoid; at normal levels, everyone runs this on the left--and then maybe they climb up and run it again, because nobody got them on video the first time.

Funnel (Class III+, Mile 0.7)
Technical, with a diamond-splitter rock at the bottom. The rock becomes exposed at levels below about 3 feet. It's best to bang through a hole toward the right and ride the channel to the right of the diamond-splitter.
There's an optional boof for those who want to provide carnage for their video-wielding buds. (See the photos on the right for the boof and the effects of a blown boof; click on the photos for the full-sized version.)

Knife's Edge

Scout from the river-right sloping rock face.
The standard line here is the S-curve: ride a very narrow shelf on far river-right, then to drop off the shelf and snake your way between two large boulders (first photo on the right). The middle route, just left of the first boulder, is dangerous at low water, as there's a nasty pothole which caused a fatality in 1987 (see the rescue, second photo on the right). Finally, for the adventuresome, there's a niche boof way river right. Better not drop off the shelf early, as you'll be in a world of hurt in the rocky channel down there. If you don't like the look of the rapid, there's a sneak to the river left of the whole thing.

Double Drop (Class IV, Mile 2.1)
Technical, with a couple of holes. After the pool following this rapid is the mandatory portage at the power plant.
Double Drop begins with a right-to-left snaking line around some holes (first photo--click on photo for the full-sized version),
...and ends with a boof in the middle or left (second photo--click on photo for the full-sized version).

Get out at the beach and walk around the dam. This is also the takeout if you're running the "Upper Bottom," which paddlers often do when there's enough water to run the first four rapids but no scheduled release--and therefore not enough water to run the "Bottom Bottom."

Ager's Falls (Class III, Mile 3.0)
One of the easier 18-footers around. There is some minor complexity to the runout, but this waterfall can be run just about everywhere. That's why there are so many photos of people running it two and three at a time.

Shurform (Class IV+, Mile 3.8)
Steep, long, shallow, and technical. If you mess up the approach, you get up close and personal with a rocky mess in the middle. The approach is most easily run by punching a small but deceptively squirrelly wave and getting left. Oh, yes: if you go left of the island, then it's really technical, with an undercut rock at the bottom. Rate that line a 5.1.

Powerline (Class III+, Mile 4.1)
Nice, fun, technical rapid. Read and Run. Careful of the pourover rock at the bottom.

Crystal (Class 5.1, Mile 4.9)
Whoa, Momma! This is one of the most visually impressive rapids in the East. From a rock at the bottom of the rapid, you can see it snake around for a quarter mile. It begins with a horseshoe hole which can mess with you, your boat, and your plans for the future. Typical, at normal levels, is to boof it left, as in the picture at the right (you know what to do: click on photo for the full-sized version).
Then, deal with the squirrelwater to line up for the final drop, a fifteen-footer with a spanky hole at the bottom. At low water (less than 2.5), it's really important to avoid penciling in on the right--the rock is exposed and ankle-breaking. At higher water (3.0+), it's harder to make the right-to-left move for the final Falls--but the middle line opens up, so you can bump'n'grind down that if need be.
Whoa, Momma!, this is a fun one!

Magilla (Class 5.1, Mile 5.1)
This one's optional; many paddlers take out before it, and it may not have any water even when the rest of the Moose is running. (It's dependent on yet another dam release.)

It kinda looks like Gorilla on the Green, but it's not as big a drop and the approach isn't so nasty. Nonetheless, don't drop your guard on the approach, either. It's not quite trivial--as seen in the first photo to the right (you know what to do: click on the photo for the full-sized version).

The second photo shows the preferred boof off the drop.

You can also run the middle channel of Magilla--just right of the normal boof line. That's extremely tight; it's easy to bang your elbows on the rock walls on the way down (don't ask how I know).

Click here to see some pics, from Karl Gesslein's site, of the easier side (river right) of this rapid, variously called "Backbreaker Falls" and "Spine Compressor Falls." Or check out the shot on the right.

Takeout on River Right, either before Magilla or after.

User Comments

2012-09-21 10:45:26 (1166 days ago)
jefflweber (154760)
FYI There is a log standing vertical at the bottom of the s-line at Knifes Edge! It is right in the
middle of the line. not much avoiding it. IT was late getting last night when we found it and was
not very visible at 3.8 ft. I slid right over the top of it. Another boater hit it side ways and
went right over. As the water drops today and tomorrow beware. It will be more visible as the water
comes down. I didn't have time last night to try and get it out.

2011-07-27 12:46:59 (1588 days ago)
Chris MorelliDetails
reminder: knifes edge is a wood collector. recently roped out 1 log, and one big stump out of the
bottom left channel. Always Scout. On another note, crystal has changed, a little. The last drop,
the bottom left waterfall has a smaller window to boof. The water seems to be going down the left
channel of the river alot more, and less over the Alpine Line. On days Alpine line should have been
in, the water didnt seem to go as it used to. Take a look for yourselfs. Cheers, and run the moose.

2010-09-28 05:11:14 (1890 days ago)
jackcarter3 (152152)
how would you rate the difficulty of the hike to put in and the hike out?

2007-10-15 08:36:19 (2969 days ago)
Matthew ParmeterDetails
While it was only my first one I have to say Moose Fest 2007 seemed to be a huge success. For
anyone that was running Fowlersville Falls between 11am and Noon on Sunday or Magilla at around
1:30 I probably took photos of your run. I have over 600 high quality digital shots. Most of them
from Fowlersville taken on the approach to the slide. I was just trying to get some good actions
shots, but figure why let them go to waste. I am in the process of uploading them all to a Walmart
photo group. The link is so feel free to help
yourself. You can also add your photos to the mix if I am not mistaken, so if you have some good
ones of other people throw them up and share. I also have video from Fowlersville and Shureform so
if you are in a Fowlersville picture or saw me standing at Shureform in the red fleece, shoot me an
e-mail and I will see what I can do about getting the video to you.

2007-08-16 10:27:34 (3029 days ago)
Eric AdsitDetails
Agers Falls: There is a huge undercut that is not visible on the river left side of the main falls
(where most of the water goes). It is best to run the main falls on the right, and go down the
middle of the tongue that leads into the slide.

2007-07-31 02:58:42 (3045 days ago)
x (1)
The sneak(take left right before the rapid) to knifes edge is a good alternative at lower levels.
Just remember to stay right off the first drop unless you want to scrape up your elbow

2007-07-27 06:59:24 (3049 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
Note: there's been wood at Knife's Edge rapid since October, 2006. If running the "S-curve" line,
be wary--especially at low water.
Users can submit comments.

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Calendar Control Date:
Calendar by Date by Title

October 2015

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est

Bottom Moose Releases
10:00 am -5:00 pm est


4th Annual Spring Black Moose Event Lyons Falls, NY,NY runs 05/10/13 - 05/12/13
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Bottom Moose Releases Lyons Falls,NY runs 04/20/08 - 10/25/15
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Associated Projects

  • Moose River (NY)
    AW fought a proposal to dewater the Moose River beginning in 1982, and ultimately secured some of the first recreational releases in the nation.

Associated News

Moose River Video
January 18, 2011