Paddling / Waterways Information

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Most waterways in the Southern Tier can be done with Basic or Moving Water Paddling skills (see Paddling Skill Level descriptions). Rivers, with a current, are the most likely body of water encountered. Most rivers in the Southern Tier are Class I or below (see Scale of River Difficulty). The nearest Class II hydraulic is at Skinner Falls on the Delaware River below Cochecton, NY.


Paddling in the Adirondacks can involve ponds and lakes (i. e. open/flat water with no current) where Basic Paddling skills are needed. The St. Regis Canoe Area is just such a place. Some sections of Adirondack Rivers are above a Class I. These may include, but not limited to, the Moose, Black, and Hudson Rivers. One should check available waterway guides to be sure of the class of water for the section they are interested in paddling is within their skill level. The ADK has some excellent waterway guides to use for the Adirondacks.

Preparing to PaddleClub members paddling under beautiful blue sky

Spring conditions call for wetsuits and Quick Water skills – the water’s temperature being colder, river levels higher and the current faster. The possibility of encountering strainers and sweepers that can trap a paddler are also more likely in spring.

Some rivers and streams can only be done early in the season, because their water levels drop quickly as the paddling season progresses. See Stream Gauge Readings for gauge sites and river levels needed to paddle them.

Do not paddle a waterway if the water level is too high. If one has not paddled a section of a river before, scouting the section or paddling with a group that has paddled the section before is advisable. Reading available paddling guides for the body of water of interest is a way of ensuring you will not be paddling in waters above your paddling ability. Again, please read the Paddling Skill Level Description and Scale of River Difficulty to understand the paddling ability needed.

See the Paddler’s Suggested Equipment List and check with the trip leader to be sure you are equipped correctly (all suggested equipment may not be required for a particular trip) and you have the necessary paddling skills for the trip. The trip leader should have used the Waterway Trip Rating in the trip description to aid paddlers in determining how strenuous the trip is going to be.


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