Rochester, New York City Guide
Rochester, NY City Guide

© 1996-2015 Max Lent Communications





Canoeing Black Creek West of Churchville, NY



How To Get There

Take route Interstate 490 west from Rochester, NY to state route 36. Turn north on route 36 to the center of Churchville, NY. From the middle of Churchville you have two choices. You can continue north on route 36 through the village on Main Street, cross Black Creek then turn west into Churchville Park and use the park as a put in. Alternately, turn northeast on route 33, Buffalo Road, to Black Creek at a dam and put in wherever you can find clear access.

Please note park closing hours. If you expect to be on the water after park closing hours, park your car where it doesn't run the risk of being locked in a closed parking lot.


Starting at the pond behind the dam or from the park, paddle west. Along the way you will pass through Churchville Park. Although the park is heavily used, paddling through the park is fairly enjoyable. The amount of waste in the water and along the shore is on par with most upstate New York waterways--enough to be depressing, but not enough to keep you from canoeing.

At the west end of the park the pond will narrow to a stream.  As you continue west you will see fewer and fewer homes along the shore. Eventually you will pass through a mostly wild area.  The first bridge you come to will be state route 19. From this point on you will be in the Bergen Swamp Wildlife Refuge which then becomes the Byron Bergen Swamp Wildlife Refuge further west.  The refuge areas are the prettiest part of the route.  You will come to another bridge which will be West Sweden Road. Just west of the bridge on the south bank is a good place to stop and picnic.  From this point west, Black Creek narrows and may be blocked by deadfall. If you make it further than a few hundred yards you will have gone further than I have.  Let me know what you find?


Black Creek from Churchville to the Byron Bergen Swamp Wildlife Refuge is flatwater except during spring flooding or severe storms. Even then, it is just flatwater with current.  This route is an easy paddle for novice canoers. The round trip

What makes this a fun paddle is that it starts in a park suitable for picnicking and takes you into a very pretty moderately wild area with a variety of wildlife and vegetation. Following Black Creek to the Bergen Swamp Wildlife Refuge feels a lot like exploring a wild area. Eventually, you will run out of water or into deadfall which will block your route.

You can expect to see most of the wildlife and plants found along similar waterways in upstate New York here.  Bring your binoculars and some guidebooks for flora and fauna identification.


Thank You

I offer a special thank you to the person or persons who clear Black Creek through the Bergen Swamp Wildlife Refuge every year.  Sawing tree limbs in the middle of the creek must be difficult work.  Without your efforts many people would miss out on canoeing a beautiful area.

Suggested reading

Order these books right now.

Rich and Sue Freeman GuidebooksComment:  If you don't own copies of Rich and Sue Freeman's guidebooks, you are missing out on the best places to hike, bike, canoe, or tour in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York and the Bruce Trail in Canada.  Their books are well written and their directions easy to follow.  Highly recommended. 

Quiet Water Canoe Guide, New York. John Hayes and Alex Wilson. 1996. Published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston. MA. ISBN1-878239-51-1.

Reader Update


Seems that the web page has not had much recent action/reports of the creeks mentioned. I kayaked Black Creek from Black Creek Park to Scottsville Rd. this past weekend. The first leg was some small fast water over shallow rocks. The second half was extreme kayaking -- 15 portages! Through woods, stinging nettles, mosquitoes, and stinky mud.

Ugh. Hard trip. What the Canoe Guide called a four trip took seven. Thank god the water was low and not very fast moving because it would have made a difficult trip more challenging. Not a family trip at this point.

Has anyone done Red Creek this year?


Do you have an update on this destination?  You do, please post it at



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