This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II(III)
Length 3 Miles
Flow Range 400 - 1800 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 31.9 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 06/07/2016 6:45 pm

River Description

The Owasco River originates at the North end of Owasco Lake. The river is initially navigable to the first dam but then flows through an industrialized section of Auburn where downstream flows are used and regulated by Auburn Hydro.  The river becomes navigable again at Wadsworth Street, upstream of the suggested put-in at Canoga Road. The Turnpike Road takeout, 3 miles downstream, is also the beginning of a pleasant, 4.5 mile class 2 section through remote woodlands and valleys to the Village of Port Byron, from here, continuing downstream at class 1, the Owasco meanders to the Seneca River and a State Boat Launch site at Mosquito Point.


Put in: Canoga Road bridge. Auburn does not currently provide public access to the Northern Navigable portion of the river that AW paddlers use, although they (?) support it in the Auburn Greenway Trail & Auburn Comp Plan . The property owner at the Canoga Road put-in ( all 4 corners) has been known to assert his authority by physically moving paddlers vehicles or challenging paddlers who do not contact him before accessing. Please park on the public right-of-way being sure not to block his driveways or just call his number (on little sign in front of old factory) and say you're paddling. Also there have been several citations issued to paddlers using this section because clarification of the Auburn City Code may be needed. Auburn Code 234-11-C  

Take out:  Turnpike Road bridge-current access is a herd path with parking on the shoulder suitable for 3-4 cars. Cayuga County possesses all 4 corners inclusive in a 400+ acre parcel acquired from NYSEG with a requirement that it remains "open land". Discussions about better parking/access here have progressed to the County Planning Level with support from local Town Boards and County Legislator Dave Axton commenting, "..Let me speak to some people but i guarantee you it would need to be built to spec.."

HAYDEN ROAD-current access is also a herd path with limited roadside parking however, excellent public access potential exists on lands with ownership disputed between the deeded landowner and NYSDOT. Parcel Id# 87.00-2-76 at Cayuga GIS MapsThis is near the northern terminus of the 400+ acre County Land and the beginning of the class 1 section flowing into Port Byron.


Currently there is trash all over the entire stretch ranging from shopping carts and TV's, to tires, old boats, and more. Although local assistance has been requested for disposal there has been no help. A small volunteer group is forming for removing the debris from the river.

This river is a floodway and maintenance as established by DEC, falls on the local towns. A small volunteer paddling contingent has been actively removing hazardous strainers from Auburn-Port Byron following published AW guidelines; there has been favorable contact with local officials and DEC Officers.

The River downstream from Turnpike Road flows through a unique, undeveloped and primitive section where many species including Mink, Fox, Beaver, Fish, Waterfowl, Eagles, and more are routinely seen. It wanders through a wooded valley along exposed gypsum formations. Fortunately, it is mostly included in the 400 acre County Parcel Id# 101.00-1-7.1 at

Auburn City Code chapter 234- 11 reads as follows:

§ 234-11. Indecent exposure; restrictions on use of Owasco River. 

A. Immodest exhibitions. No person shall publicly make any indecent, immodest or immoral exhibition or exposure of his or her person, or of any animal or thing, or cause or procure any other person so to do.

B. Swimming in public places. No person shall swim or bathe in the Owasco River. No person shall swim or bathe in any other raceway or canal or public place, unless his or her person is covered by a proper and sufficient garment or bathing suit, so as not to expose his or her private parts, including the breasts of a woman, or remove his or her clothes for the purpose of putting on such garment or bathing suit preparatory to bathing during the daylight hours, unless within a tent, building, or other concealed location.

C. Rafting and boating on Owasco River. No person shall engage in tubing, rafting, boating or similar activities north of the Mill Street Dam on Owasco River in the City of Auburn.

AW information about New York navigation laws
Boaters who had trouble on the river and required rescue have been cited.

Forum Discussion about Owasco River:,26877/

Conservation Club



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)   



Finger Lakes Area Runs


Bowman Creek                        Cascadilla Creek                  Canandaigua Outlet 

Canaseraga Creek                  Canisteo                               Cayuga Lake Hole 

Cayuta Creek                          Conesus Creek                     Fall Creek (1.) 

Fall Creek (2.)                         Fall Creek (3.)                       Great Gully Creek 

Honeoye Creek                       Irondequoit Creek                 Keshequa Creek 

Keuka Outlet                         Lock 32 Whitewater Course    Owasco River (Outlet) 

Salmon Creek                         Sixmile Creek                         Sugar Creek 

Taughannock Creek (1.)         Taughannock Creek (2.)         Trumansburg Creek 

Vanbuskirk Gulf


Google Map of New York Whitewater

New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group


Rapid Descriptions

Mill Street Dam

Class - N/A Mile - -2.46
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Boating is not permitted below this dam.

Hydro Plant

Class - N/A Mile - -0.82
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This 45 foot high dam for hydropower is not passable. 

Low Dams

Class - N/A Mile - -0.22
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This area at Wadsworth Avenue is listed as a potential park in the Auburn comprehensive plan.

Canoga Rd Bridge Drop

Class - II+ Mile - 0.1

Ledge drop, just past the Canoga Rd Brige at the putin. This can be run almost anywhere, middle left is good for higher levels and beginners. There is an eddy river right past the bridge. There is also an eddy river right just below the drop and a surf wave. This can be scouted from the brige at the putin.

Low Drop

Class - II Mile - 0.8

Low head dam, not retentive, paddle out, squirt out or roll out. Nice place to learn side surfing. Becomes a wave at 750-800 cfs, disappears at higher levels, becoming a ripple in the water.

The Bend

Class - II+ Mile - 1.21

Owasco takes an almost 90 degree bend to the right. There are a series of nice surf waves, most of them have no eddy service.

Two Waves

Class - II Mile - 1.5

A pair of waves, 30 yards apart. The first one is river right, a 2-3 boat eddy is also river right. Second one is downstream, eddies river left and right, wide enough for 3-4 boats to surf at once. Nice place to learn to surf/front, back, hand, spins.

Grass Wave

Class - II Mile - 2.5

A nice surf wave/hole, reminds me of Black Hole on the Salmon River. The current is fast, it is steep, and needs to be caught on the fly. It is possible to paddle back up to at low levels, there is a micro eddy river right/center of the wave. The property owner mows the grass down to the edge of the water.

Division St Bridge

Class - III Mile - 2.75

This can become full on class 3 for 50 yards before the bridge, ending with a class 3 drop just past the bridge. There are many waves and a couple of holes before the bridge at higher levels. All 4 tubes of the bridge are runnable. The far left tube sometimes has a surf wave under the bridge. There are surfable waves just past the bridge. The drop itself is past the bridge and is best run river left/center. This can be scouted from Division St to be sure all bridge tubes are clear of strainers.

Turnpike Rd Bridge

Class - III Mile - 3

There is a low head dam just upstream of the bridge. There is a sneak route river left and the ledge can also be boofed river right. I don't recommend running the middle. It is very retentive. There is also a class 2 rapid just below the dam.  The the take out is in the eddy on river left underneath the bridge.


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Seth Bosman
3 years ago

Just a more current reminder... scouting division st bridge is a must. Just ran this run 2 days ago and all arches were blocked besides the far left. In addition there is a bad strainer on the left right before the bridge and a good sized log on the left after the bridge. Ran it at 1250 and the wood was easy to avoid but it would be a very scary situation if someone were to swim at that level at that spot. As far as the run as a whole there is a bunch of wood everywhere so beware!

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angela baldo
7 years ago

About 2 miles from the put-in there is a rope strung across the river for no apparent reason. Watch out that you don't get decapitated. Someone needs to cut it. It is a hazard and blocks a legally navigable waterway. -------------- Also, be aware that there is a log just under the water at the entrance to the left hand arch under the Division St Bridge. I would recommend avoiding that arch and sticking to the center or right hand one, especially under 500 cfs. Concur with the main page that this bridge should be scouted before running. -------------- As for parking at the put-in, you need to park in the circular driveway in front of the old factory and call the number on the "FOR RENT" sign in front of the building. Yesterday the number was faded to the point of not being visible and when we met Fred (the property owner) he agreed to let me write the number back on the sign. So it is there now. -------------- As for putting in, Fred is fine with folks doing it upstream from the Canoga bridge on river left, just upstream of the asphalt pad and mown area adjacent to the river.

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Jim McCorkle
8 years ago

Update: The river-wide tree strainer that created a mandatory portage about 1.7 miles downstream of the put in, has been removed.

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Andy Baldwin
9 years ago

the information provided by Andy Cook is not completely correct. There is a City of Auburn ordinance against boating in the Owasco River which can obviously only apply *within the City*. Only the put in and the first 100 feet of this run are in the City of Auburn. Historically, we have boated this section without incident and without being bothered by the police. In my opinion, the tickets that were issued to the boaters in question will not hold up in court as they were downstream and therefore not in the jurisdiction of the City when ticketed. There is also the issue of the validity of this ordinance in light of NYS Law which allow boating on any navigable waterway. Lastly, the takeout at the Turnpike Rd bridge is also the put in for the class II section that goes down to Hayden Rd (or all the way to the Seneca River if you prefer) is not subject to the City ordinance in anyway.

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angela baldo
9 years ago

Since when is this run illegal?

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9 years ago

What is with this run being illegal? The City of Auburn needs to come up with some better laws, ones that make sense!

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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.


Jim McCorkle


Paul Martzen


Andy Baldwin


Alex Barham


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1201007 02/03/12 Jim McCorkle
1201018 02/06/12 Paul Martzen added access info from forum
1201002 02/02/12 Paul Martzen Rapids coordinates, Access Issue links
1201019 02/06/12 Paul Martzen Some typos fixed
1201057 02/19/12 Jim McCorkle
1201048 02/16/12 Jim McCorkle
1194196 11/01/05 Andy Baldwin n/a
1201047 02/16/12 Jim McCorkle
1201001 02/02/12 Paul Martzen Rapids coordinates, Access Issue links
1205976 03/28/16 Alex Barham Added local info
1201080 02/24/12 Paul Martzen
1206600 06/07/16 Alex Barham Added local info