Salmon (Lake Ontario), New York, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-III (for normal flows)|
|SALMON RIVER AT PINEVILLE NY|
|usgs-04250200||750 - 10000 cfs||I-III||01h30m||442 cfs (too low)|
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...
...you 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
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."
The date of this year's Salmon Festival is not yet known; check the Zoar Valley Paddling Club for updates.
Watertown Area Reaches:
Syracuse Area Runs:
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Put-In: The Trach Compactor||N/A|
|1.1||Railroad Bridge Eddy Line||II|
|1.2||Hard Left Eddy Line||II|
|3.8||Black Hole Rapids||II|
|3.9||Take out - The Black Hole||N/A|
|4.0||Rapid below the Black Hole||N/A|
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is a long, fun rapid. It has plenty of catch-on-the-fly surf, especially at the top.
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")
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.