This photo needs editing.
Difficulty III-V
Length 4 Miles
Flow Range 1000 - 6000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 hours ago 741 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 09/23/2020 2:31 am

River Description

Video River Guide

The classic summer run for New York that has play spots almost every day! 

Driving Directions:
To the Put-in:
Take Interstate 81 North. Exit on Rte. 12-F, heading East toward Watertown.
Near the center of the town, take a Left at the lights onto City Center Drive.
Soon after that, turn 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 the Take-out:
Head out to Rte. 12-F, heading Right (back toward Rte. 81).
After about three miles or so, turn 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.

Lat / Longitude data are verified by GPS.

Safety Warning and description of Knife's Edge Rapid

by Bridog, posted to the Northeast Paddlers' Message 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 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). Just hug the stone wall on river right and you'll have no problem. For more excitement start in the center and work right.

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.


Watertown Area Reaches:

Black River (Rt. 3 Wave)       Black River (Watertown to Brownville)      

Black Creek                            Deer River (Section 1)      

Deer River (Section 2)           Roaring Brook (Brokeback Gorge)   

Salmon River (Section 1)      Salmon River (Section 2)      

Sandy Creek                            South Sandy Creek (Section 1)      

South Sandy Creek (Section 2)             Mad River     

Mill Creek                                  Negro Brook

Google Map of New York Whitewater

New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group

Rapid Descriptions

ARO Putin

Class - N/A Mile - -0.5
Paddlers can get a couple more bits of rapids by putting in at ARO, about a quarter of a mile upstream of Hole Bros. This requires climbing down a staircase and permission from the company. From this putin, you can paddle up to the waterfall (pictured).

Hole Brothers

Class - III Mile - 0
This and Route 3 Wave are the two most famous Park-&-Play spots on the Black. Hole Brothers is best below 2000 cfs, but it can be played higher.

Knife Edge

Class - IV Mile - 1.6

This is the first rapid after the I-81 bridge; scout it left (or from the road on the right at high water).  The "True Path" is the usual line here; start center-left, avoid the first hole on the left, and power left to avoid the second hole (and Molly's Crack!) in the middle.

B-Line is run above 4500 Start Center, and then cut all the way right to the corner of the old factory.

Inner City Strife

Class - IV Mile - 1.9

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.

Glen Park Falls

Class - IV+ Mile - 2.5
Just below the Glen Park Dam. 

Easily portaged by going to the right of the dam. There is an obvious path that the commercial rafting companies use. Follow the trail all the way down to the fish ladder or rock scramble back down to put in for Three Rocks. 

If you choose to run Glen Park Falls you'll want to head left. Often you'll have to wait for the water to "turn on," which is a good opportunity to scout the last drop for debris that likes to collect there. Glen Park Falls can be run several ways but best to avoid being munched by the hole at the bottom.

Locals gauge the flow by checking out the square on the dam. When the square is 1/3 covered it is runnable but scrapy; 1/2 covered is ideal ; 2/3 covered it starts to get pushy. Generally a 1/2 covered square is about 2000 cfs going through the canyon. 

Three Rocks

Class - II+ Mile - 2.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Just below Glen Park Falls. Scramble down the rocks if portaging.

The rapid has changed in the past decade to a straight forward wave train. 

Zig - Zag

Class - III Mile - 2.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This rapid zigs and then zags. Watch out for the giant rock at the bottom of Zag, which has pinning potential at low water. 


Class - III Mile - 2.9
One good line is to run center-to-right through a diagonal hole, catch the eddy, and then head into the middle through the mess to finish the rapid.

As of 2013 a large rock fell into the pool beyond Cruncher. This raised the pool level and has covered *the* hole at the bottom. 

Crumbling Dam (Rocket Ride/Poop Chute)

Class - N/A Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Below Cruncher is a crumbling dam that creates the rapids Rocket Ride/Poop Chute. It's worth noting that at medium to high flows a low head can form depending on the flow through the canyon and the level of the pool below. Scout if you have any concerns. 

The dam in the past decade has also seen the effects of heavy erosion. Watch for rebar and undercuts forming just under the surface of the lip, especially closer to right (Poop Chute.) 

Rocket Ride / Poop Chute

Class - II Mile - 3.1

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. Be sure to run it to the left, rebar has appeared in the center and towards the right side.

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.

Square Rock

Class - III Mile - 3.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A small or giant wave train depending on the flows 

Shave And A Haircut

Class - III Mile - 3.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Hidden by the horizon line, a diagonal hole pushes into a sharp under-cut shelf. Punch the shoulder on the right or get stuffed!

Something has shifted on the run out and created a nice steep, surfable wave 


Class - N/A Mile - 4.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Just after the plant, take out on river right and climb up the hill with your boat to the cars, parked on the road in Brownville. Rafters take out at the dam, 2 miles of flatwater downstream in Dexter.

Another option is to climb up along the bridge on river left into the parking lot above.


default user thumbnail
8 years ago

ZbWarn rctykuhkmqcx, [url=]iymrdmnnpyzb[/url], [link=]flzmbjhoonom[/link],

default user thumbnail
10 years ago

6,000 cfs is definitely too low as the max. runnable range. 8,000 is a more accurate level though it is entirely possible to run it higher. At these levels Knife's Edge's right side opens up on the bottom and is a very manageable move for capable boaters. The only major hazard is rocket-ride which becomes a low-head dam. Portage on river left or run Poop-Shoot.

default user thumbnail
11 years ago

Cool river... don't drink the water

default user thumbnail
11 years ago

Not sure what unfriendly people you are refering to. These are companies that have been on the river going on close to 30 years. It is their property, and private at that. I am sure if you had called them prior to trying to go and do it yourself they you could have saved yourself a hard time. The people of Watertown and the business that are there are very appreciative of boaters and anyone who would like to boat on this gem of a river. The park the town was refering to was Glen Park Dam and that is open to anyone.

default user thumbnail
Dan Cash
11 years ago

I would say 1000cfs for a minimum isn't entirely true. The Black is runnable to levels far below that. I don't think that a absolute bottom has been reached. Granted it's less challenging, but a creative boater could find ways to amuse oneself.

default user thumbnail
David Fulle
13 years ago

The new Rochester paddler trend is to intentionally drop into Cruncher without paddling--in an Oregon tuck position. Cruncher is a fun rapid and opens to a large pool so if you happen to swim there should be plenty of people in the pool to help clean up your mess. It makes for a great show for the rafters.

Gage Descriptions

The Black has releases all through the summer, for rafting trips. Kayakers can surf off those releases for a run down the river.

The scheduled releases occur roughly halfway down the run, at Glen Park Hydro. Therefore, one can put in about an hour before the beginning of the scheduled release. Don't hang out and play too long, or else you'll run out of water below Glen Park Falls.

Whitewater releases in the Black River Gorge are available to commercial rafting outfitters and private boaters during the month of July on every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and during the month of August on every day except Tuesday. However, releases are NOT initiated on the scheduled days without an official request made by either a boater or outfitter 48 hours in advance of the proposed date.

Consequently, most boaters choose to simply schedule their trip to the Black to correspond with the dates and times that outfitters have already requested a release. Typically it is best to surf at Hole Brothers and follow a rafting trip down, however releases during the summer usually start around 10-12 and  1-2pm. Be at Hole Brothers an hour before the release to catch the rafting companies.  Questions regarding the availability can be made by contacting the raft companies.

Boaters can schedule their own releases on days when water is available (Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday in July or every day except Tuesday in August) by calling Glen Park Hydro at (315) 788-9121 a minimum of 48 hours in advance of your desired trip.  However, if you schedule a release you will be expected to utilize the water.  Boaters who schedule a release and waste the water by failing to show or neglecting to call and cancel the release will be hunted down like dogs and hung from the nearest tree with their throw-rope.

There is usually a special release on the Friday of Moose Festival weekend, from 11 AM-1 PM.

Directions Description

Driving Directions

To putin: Take Interstate 81 North. Exit on Rte. 12-F, heading East toward Watertown.
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.

Lat / Longitude data are verified by GPS.

Date Flow Result Factor  
1985-05-26 Medium Fatality Inexperience Read More



article main photo

AW Launches Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign

Robert Nasdor

American Whitewater is launching the Adirondacks River Restoration Campaign to restore and improve river flows for aquatic ecosystems and to improve recreation opportunities across the region. Over the next 10 years, more than 50 hydroelectric dams in New York are scheduled to get new 30 to 50-year federal licenses, creating a once in a generation opportunity to improve river conditions. In the Black River Basin alone, there are more than 20 hydropower dams on the Black, Beaver, and Moose rivers that will begin the relicensing process in the next year, and American Whitewater will need to participate with other partners in order to mitigate project impacts and achieve river restoration goals. Through these efforts, we will restore flows to dewatered river reaches, improve existing flows, enhance public access, and benefit communities throughout the region.

article main photo

Moose River Video

Mark Singleton

2010 marked the 25th anniversary of protecting the Black and Moose rivers!  View an online video documentary on the Moose River and the early role that American Whitewater played in protecting this amazing river.

article main photo

Route 3 Wave Threatened? (NY)

Jason Robertson

886thumb.jpgFLOW Paddlers' Club reports potential threat to the Route 3 Wave.

Alex Barham


Chris and Caron Koll


Matt Muir


Allie Burhans


Craig Irwin


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215973 09/23/20 Alex Barham updated description
1191049 05/08/08 Chris and Caron Koll n/a
1197614 05/05/10 Matt Muir 2010 Spring release schedule
1214753 04/26/20 Allie Burhans updated stats
1214769 04/26/20 Allie Burhans updated stats
1214770 04/26/20 Allie Burhans updated name
1195094 05/27/09 Matt Muir Added abstract
1197967 07/19/10 Matt Muir Updated Release Schedule.
1201838 02/06/13 Alex Barham
1205513 12/04/15 Alex Barham
1205957 03/28/16 Alex Barham Added local info
1208916 02/15/18 Alex Barham updated
1213380 07/19/19 Craig Irwin updated description