Salmon (Lake Ontario) - 2. Route 2A to Black Hole through Pulaski

Salmon (Lake Ontario), New York, US


2. Route 2A to Black Hole through Pulaski

Usual Difficulty I-III (for normal flows)
Length 3.9 Miles

Bubba's Girl Surfin Titanic

Bubba's Girl Surfin Titanic
Photo of Sharon Heller by Steve Graley taken 07/15/01 @ 750 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04250200 750 - 10000 cfs I-III 00h22m 531 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Salmon is a pleasant Class-II stream which runs fairly frequently. It's one of the most reliable runs in western NY. Releases in mid-late summer make it runnable when most streams have dried up. There's some pretty good play, culminating in Titanic, an excellent hole.

It's also a popular fishing river. When the fishermen are angling for salmon, you can find yourself threading the needle among multiple fishing lines.

Scheduled releases, with natural flow after heavy rain.

Directions from Mike Shafer, of the FLOW Paddlers' Club:

Putin: Best place to put-in is at a place called "Trash Compactor."
From I-81 take exit #36, for Rte. 13. (approx 35 miles north of Syracuse)
Turn right, going East on Rte. 36.
Approx 1 mile, make a left turn onto Rte. 2A.
Approx 1/10 of a mile, you are on a bridge crossing the Salmon.
Turn right, just over the bridge, into the parking lot/DEC access site... can see it looking right (upstream) from the bridge.

Takeout: You have to drive through town, to a place called Black Hole (at the wastewater treatment plant).
People in town could direct you there (or check out the map in the Directions tab), but there should be no problem hooking up for a shuttle from the put-in lot. Shuttle's only about 10 minutes, each way.

Sharon sez: "The Salmon has a TON of surfing. The higher the water, the better. Get there at 2000 cfs in the spring if you can."


Check out the Salmon site for some info on this river.
The CNY Club maintains an Events Calendar which might help you hook up with people who have info on this run.

The date of this year's Salmon Festival is not yet known; check the Zoar Valley Paddling Club for updates.


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


Syracuse Area Runs:

Butternut Creek                                              Chittenango Creek (Cazenovia)

Chittenango Creek (Chittenango)               Fish Creek E. Branch (Taberg)

Limestone Creek (Edwards Falls)              Oriskany Creek (Oriskany Falls)

Oriskany Creek (Clinton)                             Owasco River (Outlet)

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


Google Map of New York Whitewater

New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-03-28 21:35:38


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put-In: The Trach CompactorN/APutin Photo
0.6The LedgeIIPhoto
1.1Railroad Bridge Eddy Line IIPhoto
1.2Hard Left Eddy Line IIPhoto
1.9Lunch RockN/APhoto
2.7Firemen's FieldIIPutin Access Playspot Photo
2.8Dead RockstarIIPhoto
2.9Woodcutter WavesIIPlayspot
3.0Town RapidII+Photo
3.2Washing MachineIIPhoto
3.4TitanicII+Playspot Photo
3.8Black Hole RapidsIIPhoto
3.9Take out - The Black HoleN/ATakeout Photo
4.0Rapid below the Black HoleN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Put-In: The Trach Compactor (Class N/A)

Put-In (Trash Compactor)

Put-In (Trash Compactor)
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 520 cfs

The put in is at a DEC fishing access where route 2a crosses the Salmon River. It is sometimes called the “Trash Compactor” since it is next a solid waste collection facility. There is plenty of parking. Two boat ramps provide easy access to the river. Just below the put in, the Bridge Abutments on route 2A create big eddies to warm up and wait for other members of your paddling group to launch.

The Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.6)

Mary's Hole

Mary's Hole
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 520 cfs

The first significant feature is a river-wide pour over. It is just down-stream of the Salmon Acres Fish Lodge sign (on river left). You can scout from your boat run the ledge just about anywhere.

Railroad Bridge Eddy Line (Class II, Mile 1.1)

Railroad Bridge Eddy Line

Railroad Bridge Eddy Line
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 520 cfs

Upstream of the bridge on river left there are rock cliffs. They form a strong eddy line and big eddy. There’s often squirt boaters here… magically disappearing and reappearing from the deep. This place is great for practicing peel-outs, eddy turns, squirts and rolls. Just be a little careful because there are some shallow rocks at the very top of the eddy line.

Hard Left Eddy Line (Class II, Mile 1.2)

Squirting the Hard Left Eddy line

Squirting the Hard Left Eddy line
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 685 cfs

The river makes a big left hand turn, with rock cliffs on river right. There’s a big eddy with a strong eddy line on river right. This eddy good for practicing peel-outs, squirts, etc.

Lunch Rock (Class N/A, Mile 1.9)

Lunch Rock

Lunch Rock
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 520 cfs

Next you approach the I-81 double bridges. Just upstream of I-81 on river right are some sunny, flat rocks. These rocks make a nice place to take a break and eat lunch.

Firemen's Field (Class II, Mile 2.7)

Mark Hrubant at the top of Firemen’s’ Field Rapid

Mark Hrubant at the top of Firemen’s’ Field Rapid
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 685 cfs

An alternate putin or P&P spot.
Heading West on 13 from I-81, take a Right onto Lewis Rd.
Park at the end of the field road and carry down the narrow path, making sure you rub poison ivy all over your legs for good luck. There's a great play wave right there at the putin. Either paddle to the end of the field and carry back up, or run the river to Black Hole.

This is a long, fun rapid with good surf. There are several smaller surf waves at the top. One wave on river left has decent eddy service.

Halfway down the rapids there’s a series of two big holes. These are called Dead Rock Star.

There are two great waves at the bottom of the rapid, called the Woodcutter Waves.

Dead Rockstar (Class II, Mile 2.8)

Dead Rock Star

Dead Rock Star
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 720 cfs

Halfway down Firemen's Field Rapid are two holes. These holes are called Dead Rock Star. The second hole is about 40 feet down-stream of the first. Both holes are nearly river wide, but there’s plenty of room to go around them on river right. Many paddlers just punch these holes. At certain levels they are good for side surfing.

Woodcutter Waves (Class II, Mile 2.9)

At the bottom of Firemen's Field Rapid there are two great waves. These are called Woodcutter Waves. (The waves are on river right, just downstream of the boat ramp on river left.) These waves are some of the best surf on the river. But they require a little caution. They have eddy service on river right, but the eddy’s have strong current and collect wood. Their banks also have undercut tree roots. Also, the trees above the waves tend to collect fishing lines and hooks from the local fishermen. So take a good look for fish hooks at eye-level. Ouch!

Town Rapid (Class II+, Mile 3.0)

Top of Town Rapid

Top of Town Rapid
Photo taken 08/17/14 @ 520 cfs

Town Rapid is a long, fun rapid. It has plenty of catch-on-the-fly surf, especially at the top.

Washing Machine (Class II, Mile 3.2)

Mark Hrubant surfing the bottom of Washing Machine rapid

Mark Hrubant surfing the bottom of Washing Machine rapid
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 685 cfs

At Washing Machine Rapid the river makes a sweeping right turn with rock cliffs on the left. It creates a short, fun rapid. You can catch mirco-eddies on river left. At the bottom is a strong eddy line and big eddy on river left. It is very deep. It’s great for practicing squirts.

(This Rapid is also referred to as "Box Car" and "the Staircase")

Twister (Class II+, Mile 3.4)


Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/21/14

Next the river crosses under the South Jefferson Street Bridge. Then it drops over three neat features.

First is hole that can be nasty at lower water levels (500-800 cfs). Some paddlers call it “V-Notch”, others call it "Twister". The sneak route is river right. In the center, the water splits into two tongues, and then come back together. Most people ride the right tongue. The left tongue is steep, and then dives under the right tongue. Some people also run the “hero line” – far river left.

Titanic (Class II+, Mile 3.4)


Photo of unknown by Steve Graley--aka--Phantomboater taken 07/15/02 @ 750 cfs

Then Titanic: an excellent hole. At low water (500 cfs?), it's not deep enough to make everything work; but higher, you can play your heart out here.

You can sneak Titanic on river right. You can also run river left into the eddy just downstream. Also, many people just punch through Titanic. Then, let the side-surfing begin! At 750-1000 cfs, Titanic is a nice, even hole that stretches across most of the river. There’s good eddy service on both sides. Titanic has a nice frothy pillow, and spin corners on both sides. It’s relatively deep, but you can bang an end when throwing cartwheels. And keep that edge up, because Titanic is happy to window-shade you!

At higher levels, Titanic becomes less even, and more wave-like on one side – sometimes good for front surfing.

Just downstream is another feature called Lusitania. It’s sometimes good for front surfing. But mostly it just scares people who swim out of Titanic.


Black Hole Rapids (Class II, Mile 3.8)

Black Hole Rapids

Black Hole Rapids
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14 @ 685 cfs

At the top of Black Hole Rapids, 2 islands split the river into 3 channels. Any channel will work, but they can be boney at lower levels. Then there are cliffs on river right. You can catch a micro-eddy on river right, and get ready for the last surf opportunity. In the middle of the river there are 2 waves, one right behind the other. Both will surf depending on the water level. The second one is often the best. These are catch-on-the-fly, and some of the best surf on the river.

Take out - The Black Hole (Class N/A, Mile 3.9)

Take out on river right - The Black Hole

Take out on river right - The Black Hole
Photo by Kalon Riehle taken 08/17/14

The take out is on river right at the Black Hole. The Black hole is a giant pool of slow deep water, so practice your roll until you’re exhausted!

Rapid below the Black Hole (Class N/A, Mile 4.0)

There’s a nice rapid just below the Black Hole. It often has a nice surf wave, with challenging eddy service. Unfortunately the sewage treatment plant discharges above the rapid, so don’t go down there if you see chocolate coming out of the pipe in the middle of the river bed. To come back up, wade your boat to the top of the island on river left of the main channel, then paddle up the Black Hole, back to the take out.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 31 2011 (2605 days ago)
baldoam (151663)
When we went through on 10/29 there was a fishing line caught in a tree above Titanic, and hanging
down into it. We were reluctant to surf in there for fear of a hook on the other end. It might be
possible to pull it toward shore from the side of the cliff and cut it but we didn't have long
poles with us or anything to grab it with. Or clever use of floating a rope floating downstream
around it while someone holds the other end on shore. Wish I'd thought of that while we were there,
'cuz the hole looked very inviting, otherwise. (Trick or treat! Bah)
April 23 2011 (2796 days ago)
Mike ShaferDetails
Rebar alert: approx 200 - 300 yards downstream of town bridge a broken piece of the river right
wall has settled in the center of the river. At 1800cfs it looks like a pourover as you approach,
but is in fact a wide slab of concrete with stems of rebar pointing upwards (on the downstream side
of this not boof).
September 30 2010 (3001 days ago)
Tom WagnerDetails
Pay special attention to the fisherman. The salmon were jumping all over. Fisherman are lining the
banks and key spots. Many eddys were occupied by our New Yorks finest fisherman. Give them room and
be careful. Great Run at 2 in the afternoon. Water about 2100 cfs and about 7.5 feet

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Calendar Control Date:
Calendar by Date by Title

September 2012

NY, Salmon River Release
4:27 pm -4:27 pm est
Release is dawn to dusk750 cfs

NY, Salmon River Release
4:27 pm -4:27 pm est
Release is dawn to dusk750 cfs


NY, Salmon River Release Lake Ontario,NY runs 06/23/07 - 09/02/12
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