Kayaking Upper State New York advice

Hi, a fellow paddler and I have to been in Boston for a conference and we’ve decided to pack the kayaks and camping gear. We are coming from Wisconsin, thought we’d cut through Canada to Niagara and cut across from there. We were thinking maybe the Erie Canal - we’d like to find an area also closer to Boston, maybe by the Finger Lakes. Would really appreciate any help. We are not Whitewater paddlers - we have both Sea Kayaks & river kayaks and deciding which ones to take depends on what the waters we’ll paddle. Is the Erie Canal pretty boulderless so I can take my composite Sea Kayak?

I and many take my sea kayak to rocky coasts in Maine, so I am not sure why you need to avoid all rocks. That said, what part of he Erie Canal? Further west it is entirely a man-made channel, but as you head east where it joins the Mohawk River you are paddling a regular river and locking thu.

You’re not whitewater paddlers so what’s a River Kayak?

For flatwater paddling starting just east of the Finger Lakes, https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/

CNY and WNY some others will need to contribute to the itinerary.

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Lots of large lakes just north of Boston. Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Lake George just an hour north of Albany is a nice paddle
The Finger lakes are large bowls surrounded by hills and bereft of islands. We have had canoe symposia on Keuka Lake and all complained that the waves were high in the morning ( the winds funnel down those lakes) and the scenery that of summer homes and cottages.

Some of the smaller lakes ( Candadice Conesus, Honeyoye ) may have a more intimate feel
Erie Canal paddlng is nice for a while then horridly boring… You essentially are paddling a ditch. Montezuma Swamp may be an exception. I did a stretch near Rochester once.

Do not be deceived. It is 7 hours from Buffalo to Boston drive time

Why not just go kayaking to the Boston Islands?

Now the bummer. Parking in Boston is limited. I have no idea where your conference is… If its downtown you will have to park in a garage and I hate to say it… your vehicle with kayaks may not fit.
We tried. We took sea kayaks down under Boston Common in that parking garage and coming up was a different story as they scraped.

I saw pictures of your river kayaks from the Ozarks and they are way too small to paddle anything but the Erie Canal and small lakes. The sea kayaks would be nice for the ocean if you have familiarity with what oceans do ( currents, tidal races etc). They are also appropriate for the large lakes.

Kayamedic’s info on distance, western NYS<–>Boston, is correct. I used to know people who drove down from southern Vermont to work in Boston. Southern Vermont & central NH are nice & pretty convenient, but somewhat of a drive, but probably won’t seem like much to anyone having been in Wisconsin. Many who commute to Boston live in southern Maine as well.

Because Conference is in Boston, we thought we’d pick 3 areas of New York to paddle on our drive. So that’s why looking for fun paddle close to Buffalo, NY. Then another around Finger lakes - we tried Seneca last time with high waves, but had sea kayaks since that trip was Maine’s Coastal waters, so maybe closer to Syracuse - then we were looking for something closer to Albany. So we are actual leaning toward our smaller river kayaks, yes Ozarks size love that area! . Another bucket list is that Northern Forest trail- So Looking for advice on 13 ft river kayaks travel

What do you mean by river kayaks, like are they higher featured rec boats with bulkheads? Or some kind of other thing. Sorry, but unless you are talking whitewater boats that doesn’t mean anything. And it would help in anyone recommending paddling locations.

a river boat is something like a bulkheaded short kayak… Look at the Ozark Rendezvous thread where these boats are on the Buffalo River in Arkahsas( some are not river kayaks for sure)
There used to be a lot of paddlers from the Buffalo(NY) area here to suggest locations but they have mostly moved to the Western NY Paddling group on Facebook

I lived in Syracuse and our only paddles were on the Seneca Canal… ugh. Oneida Lake is large and boring.
There are a lot of small lakes in the Southern Adirondacks… Unspecified by you is how far off rt 90 you want to go.

I’m from the Midwest and we have lovely meandering rivers - so our 9 ft to 13ft kayaks are the norm for us.
Was hoping to find like type rivers to kayak in UpperState New York. We are willing to travel any length to find a good river.

Well the Oswegatchie fits the bill and so do some Adirondack streams. You will be travelling through canal country which the Erie is but one… NYS is good paddling but lakes predominate.
Near Buffalo there is plenty of river paddling but you have to be on FB or find someone local to find the creeks. I live some 500 miles away. They arent so meandering all the time. There is a good bit of whitewater.

NYS has a good bit of topography and not as flat as the Midwest so that lovely meandering stream may not be as predominant. There are some … they are peppered with beaver dams.

Maybe try a different route - I did a cross country Washington State to NYC and traveled via Wisconsin, the UP in Michigan, through Ontario to NY State. This would enable you to paddle the Adirondacks, Vermont or NH on your way to or from Boston, not to mention Ontario. That’s going to be much more enjoyable than western or central NY in my opinion. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail that Marshall mentioned goes right through the area, it’s worth looking at their maps for ideas. Also, I recommend the Quiet Water guides for ideas on where to paddle.

BTW, it’s called Upstate New York, just sayin’…

I think there is plenty of small river canoeing in Western NY… I just am not familiar with that area.
We just did a small day trip ( 17 miles ) on the Saco River in Maine but that is three hours north of Boston…
The Androscoggin in Maine is 177 miles long and another very nice river with plenty of launches for day trips.
The NFCT ( though the Androscoggin is on it for a while tends to be less favorable for day trips.

As a Western New Yorker, I can tell you there are many places to paddle in the Buffalo area. You can check the launch sites portion of this website. I’m particularly fond of Wilkeson Pointe on the Outer Harbor (I did a six mile paddle around the break-wall last week), the foot of Hamburg Street on the Buffalo River (also known as Mutual Riverfront Park - nice paddle through “Silo City” grain elevators), the East River Marsh kayak launch on the south tip of Grand Island (if you go here, head south first so you’re going into the 2 mph current in the Niagara River), and the Eastern park launch on the Ellicott Creek in the Town of Tonawanda (west takes you to the Tonawanda Creek and Niagara River, east is residential backyards on the Ellicott creek).

If you were thinking of the Erie Canal, it merges with the Tonawanda creek in Amherst. There are a number of put in spots along the creek, not so many on the canal proper as much of it is very high banked in this area.

I don’t know when you’re coming, but if it’s after Memorial Day, the motorboat traffic can get a little heavy in some of these spots. You can PM me if you want any more info.