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Oswegatchie River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: Sept. 2003
Nearest City: Croghan, NY
Difficulty: Moderate
Submitted by: pondhopper

Description:

I put my canoe into the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River right by where the bridge crosses it on the Jerden Falls road. It's the only sizable bridge on the entire road with a 15-20 foot span. I was heading downstream but just upstream a 1/4 mile or so is Jerden Falls with a drop of 5-10 feet. My plan for the day was to go down to Kimball Mills which is where the Pigtown road has a bridge crossing the river approximately 7 miles away and also the end of the stillwater and then turn around and paddle back.

The river has occasional beaver dams through this section but they aren't too numerous and are easy to bypass in that they only range from 6 inches to 2 feet above waterline. Alders line the river but don't crowd tight enough to impede passage and the areas a small flatland "plain" with lots of grasses and small trees. I rather enjoyed going over the beaver dams because it was a hot sunny day and I was wearing sneakers- so it gave me a chance to cool my "pads" off a little & "stretch out" some.

I saw numerous species of birds such as: Jays, Kingfishers, Red tailed & Yellow tailed hawks, Osprey, Black ducks (1 pair) and numerous other species. Beavers, Otter (1), muskrats and deer were some of the mammals I observed. The area supposedly used to have a large Woodcock population but, of course, you need to almost STEP on one of those "worm eaters" to make them flush.

In the mid to late 1800's there used to be a large tannery located near the river here and that's where my Grandma was born and raised (she was born in 1880's). No buildings remain and even the old cellars are extremely hard to locate. However, on my trip down the stream, I began noticing unnatural looking rockpiles in the riverbed and some even resembled dams in that they stretched all the way across the river and yet were BELOW the level surface of the water. I began noticing cribbing built with logs and rocks lining the left side of the river in numerous locations as I headed ever downstream. I was amazed as I thought of the amount of physical labor it must have took to build all this cribbing from the deepest bed of the river upward to water level on the banks. At first, I thought it must have had something to do with log-driving but I came to the conclusion that maybe it had something to do with protecting their farming and stopping the river from creating new channels during high water because the cribbings greatest quantities were located on the big winding "oxbows" that were common through this section. If Grandma was here she could tell me!

It took a leisurely 4 hours to go all the way downstream and there were a couple of short flatrock rapids near the end. It took 3 1/2 hours of "crankin" upstream to return(slow, fat canoe).

I live near the area and NOBODY paddles this section so EXPECT having it to yourselves. There's trout and NUMEROUS baitfish in it. It was a nice trip and the leaves changing colors in the distance added a little something extra. It would be possible to park on state land near the end of the stillwater and go 1 way if so inclined.

Accommodations:

1 bed & breakfast in Croghan on mainstreet(RT. 812) LOTS of designated tenting areas on Jerdan Falls road.

Directions:

Located between Croghan & Harrisville just off Route 812. Going north on 812 out of Croghan towards Harrisville you go through 1 tiny little hamlet called Indian River about 4 miles past Croghan. There will be a small pond with many hand sculpted statues surrounding it located on the left JUST on the other side of said hamlet. The Jerdan Falls road is right THERE to your right. Follow until you see BRIGE- there you are!

Resources:

You could use Belfort AND Remington Corners Quads BUT 1 of those DeLorme New York gazettes would serve well enough.


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