Rochester, New York City Guide
Rochester, NY City Guide

© 1996-2015 Max Lent Communications

      

  

 

Canoeing Oak Orchard Creek
Through the Oak Orchard Wildlife Refuge in Upstate New York

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Oak Orchard Creek looking east from bridge. July 1998.. Max Lent 1998

How To Get There

Before you go, find out if canoeing is restricted. Call the Regional Wildlife Manager at the NYS Dept. of Environmental Protection at 716-226-2466. No canoeing is allowed during the spring waterfowl mating season. Also, you wouldn't want to canoe in this area during hunting season. Even during the no hunting season, we heard gun shots near the stream. We have never seen any refuge personnel policing the refuges.

From Rochester, NY, take Interstate 490 west to Interstate 90, the New York State Thruway. Go west on Interstate 90 to the Pembrooke exit. You will see a huge Union 76 truck stop south of the Thruway. After exiting the Thruway, turn north on state route 77. The Union 76 truck stop is a good place to get gas and snacks. This may also be the last toilet facility you are likely to come across until you pass this way again. The rest rooms at the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center are only open when the Visitor Center is open.

Continuing north on route 77 you will pass through Indian Falls. The falls are just west of the bridge and worth seeing if you have time. Next, you will pass through the villages of Basom and Alabama. About a mile north of Alabama you will see a sign for the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge on the left. Just a little further on there will be a road turning off the right, east, and a small sign pointing to the Oak Orchard Wildlife Refuge. Make a right turn at the sign onto Roberts Rd. Follow Roberts Road east until it ends at a fork. Take the left, north fork of Knowlesville Road for about a mile to Oak Orchard Creek. A rough dirt road and parking area turns off the left and parallels the road. Passenger cars may find the road too rough to negotiate. However, it just a short walk to the water's edge. You can earn back some of your gas money collecting empty beer cans for their deposit value.

Route

You can either go east or west on Oak Orchard Creek. There almost no visible current, so either route is easy paddling. The east route will take you under the road bridge and upstream. During mid-July 1996, a beaver dam blocked the stream a few hundred yards upstream. A few years earlier we portaged around a similar beaver dam only to find another and another as we paddled upstream.

Paddling downstream, we were able to go about two miles before being stopped by another beaver dam. If you are willing to portage around this, and possibly more, beaver dam you can paddle the Sour Springs Road bridge.

Description

This is another flat water paddle through swamp. We believe that this is one of the prettiest waterways, of its type, we have paddled. The water is shallow and mostly free of obstacles, so it is suitable for novice paddlers. The creek is bordered by trees that protect it from wind. Even at the height of Duckweed season, the center of the stream was clear enough to easily paddle.

 

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Oak Orchard Creek looking west from bridge.  July 1998. Max Lent 1998


The Oak Orchard and Iroquois Wildlife Refuges are beautiful. If you have time, hike some of the trails in the refuges. Also, visit the pond overlooks. We have seen Bald Eagles on several visits, some at a distance of less than a hundred feet. On every visit, we have seen birds we have not seen before. During the spring and fall bird migrations the bird watching is spectacular. If you come to the refuges to watch birds, bring your most powerful binoculars or a spotting scope. It seems as though the most interesting birds are always just out of range.

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.

 

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