Fast Water Adventures in the Finger Lakes Region of NY State


Lakes, ponds, and meandering streams – they can all be found in the Finger Lakes region. But, so too will you find fast water streams that offer frolicking adventures for more experienced or more adventurous kayakers. These generally aren’t white water – except during spring melt season – but they are streams where the water moves swiftly and you need to be adept at rounding sharp corners and avoiding obstacles such as downed trees or dams.

These are fun streams where your skills can be tested. You’re just as likely to round a bend and find several deer standing in the creek drinking as you are to experience a game of tag with a great blue heron. The herons have a tendency to flush as you approach, fly downstream and rest on a limb until you approach and flush them again, and again, and again. Heron tag is one of the many joys of paddling in the Finger Lakes region. Here are a few of my favorite Finger Lakes region fast water adventures:

  1. Canandaigua Outlet drains from Canandaigua Lake into the Erie Canal. Near Canandaigua Lake it’s canalized and drops over several waterfalls but between Manchester and Lyons it’s a moving water lover’s paradise.
  2. Ganargua Creek (also called Mud Creek) has a fast and twisty run between Palmyra and Lyons. Go have a whoop-hollering good time.
  3. Owasco Outlet runs with clear water over a rocky bed so it’s enticing to watch the fish and not pay full attention to what’s ahead. The section between Throopsville and the Seneca River is 10 miles of fun.
  4. Equally fun, but quite different is the other end of Owasco Lake on the Owasco Inlet. It’s two streams in one. From Moravia to the Route 38 Bridge it’s a fast moving, narrow, winding stream. Downstream from Route 38 it widens into a deep slow moving channel through Owasco Flats. Here, you’re eye level with fields of ferns and get to enjoy deer, muskrats, great blue herons and beavers until you reach Owasco Lake.

Maps and details for each of these fast water adventures and others can be found in the guidebook “Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks.”