The Best Kayaking/Canoe Adventures & Water Trails near Rochester, New York

Lake Ontario, Honeoye Creek, Black Creek, and more water trails near Rochester, New York
Lake Ontario, Honeoye Creek, Black Creek, and more water trails near Rochester, New York

A few years back, we made the leap to buy two kayaks.  A year later, we bought two more.  And then we ended up with a couple of canoes.  I’ve reviewed the kayaks here, but suffice to say that we’ve had tons of fun since then exploring water trails in the Rochester, New York area.  Some are adventurous, while others are very peaceful.

In this list, I’m going to talk about water trails.  I’m not going to detail ponds or lakes unless you’re trying to get from one point to another.  To me, it’s more fun to have a destination in mind than to go in a small circle (though that can be fun, too).

So here are my favorite paddling trails near Rochester, New York – from least adventurous to most adventurous.  (Adventurous means log jams, shallow water where you’ll need to get out of your canoe or kayak, difficult navigation, etc.)  Some days, I feel more like a peaceful paddle than dragging my craft over multiple downed trees!

The Irondeqouit Bay Bridge, Webster, New York
The Irondeqouit Bay Bridge

Irondequoit Bay

It’s a pretty easy (if long) paddle from one end of Irondequoit Bay to the other.  It also has more views than any other water trail on this list.  The 5.6-mile paddle between La Salles Landing and Sandbar Park is especially nice in the autumn, but you might want to avoid summer weekends when motorboats cruise the bay en masseRead more here.

Lower Falls on the Genesee River, Rochester, New York
Lower Falls

Genesee River to Lower Falls

To be honest, I consider this to be one of the best water trails near Rochester.  It’s not that paddling the Genesee River is so very exciting – it’s almost like stroking for 4+ miles easy way through a very long lake – but the waterfall at the end makes it well worth the effort.  In the autumn, the Genesee River Gorge is also spectacular with fall colors.  Read more here.

Kayaking on Lake Ontario near Webster Park, New York
Kayaking on Lake Ontario

Irondequoit Bay to Webster Park via Lake Ontario

The adventurous part of this trip is voyaging out into Lake Ontario.  It’s a lovely paddle on a summer morning when the wind is from the south – the cliffs protect the paddler from the wind.  But if the wind is from the north, or if it’s very choppy at all, the lake is just too big to be much fun.  If you’re looking for a water trail on the lake, I can easily recommend this 5.7-mile route from Sandbar Park to Webster Park.  Read more here.

Riding a canal lock on the Erie Canal, Pittsford, New York
Riding a canal lock

Erie Canal – Pittsford to I-390

This is the most fun trail on the list – you get to ride through two honest-to-goodness Erie Canal Locks!  (Well, the Barge Canal, but close enough.)  The lockmasters do appreciate it if you call ahead (to give them enough time to have the gate open for you) and also if you can ride through with at least one other vessel.  But it’s still ok if it’s just you all as paddlers.  Plus you get two long stretches of straight canal.  Going all the way to Pittsford and all the way to I-390 is around 9 miles RT, though there are shuttle options.  Read more here.

Paddling down a wider section of Irondequoit Creek, Webster, New York
Paddling down a wider section of Irondequoit Creek

Irondequoit Creek

There are multiple ways to paddle Irondequoit Creek, but this one is user-friendly.  It’s simply a beautiful paddle between bushes and rushes.  It can be done as a 3.8-mile shuttle to LaSalles Landing or an out and back.  Read more here.

Paddling on Black Creek, Churchville, New York
Paddling on Black Creek

Black Creek: Churchville to (almost) West Sweden Road

This is an out-and-back route, as the creek became too shallow/log-infested to get to West Sweden Road (not that such a thing would have stopped us in later years).  The 12.6 miles out & back is pretty and usually very quiet.  Read more here.

Paddling under I-390 on Honeoye Creek, Rush, New York
Paddling under I-390 on Honeoye Creek

Honeoye Creek: Rush to Golah Road

Honeoye Creek takes you 7.7 miles from the dam in Rush to a take-out point a short distance from the Genesee River.  It’s a fun and lovely paddle, though you’ll encounter a few log jams that must be bypassed or crossed as well as multiple shallow parts of the creek where you’ll need to get out and pull your craft over the offending gravel (or silt) bar.  Read more here.  (You can also do a shorter out-and-back version from Golah Road – read more here.)

An old railroad abutment along Black Creek, Churchville, New York
An old railroad abutment along Black Creek

Black Creek: Churchville to the Genesee River

This is by far the most adventurous water trail on this list.  It’s also the longest at 19.2 miles (and that’s a shuttle!)  Several sections are mostly pleasant paddling – Churchville to Black Creek Park and the CSX bridge to the Genesee River – while in between are dozens of log jams in a never-ending forest.  But for an adventure, it seriously can’t be beat!  Read more here.  (If you want a shorter, easier paddle, try this version that begins near the Genesee River.)

If you know of any other amazing water trails near Rochester, let me know!  I’m always on the lookout for more fun places to explore!

Paddle the Quiet Waters!

This is one of my go-to sources for new kayaking and canoe trips.  It covers so many lakes and streams, including several of the trips mentioned in this post.  Buy your copy here!

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