Long thought of as an industrial river thanks to its turn-of-the-century heyday, the Black River has been redefined by paddlers, birdwatchers and anglers as an outdoor playground. Starting in the lower Adirondack Mountains near Forestport and Boonville, the Black River flows 114 miles northwest to the mighty Lake Ontario. From its origins, the wild river snakes into the lowlands, along the way becoming the place fly fishing anglers see in their dreams.
The Black River slows as it flows along the edge of the Tug Hill region – an outdoor paradise in itself! From Port Leyden to Carthage, it’s obvious why the river’s slow, steady currents attracted lumber companies and mills in the 1800s. Today paddlers can still see the old dams and catwalks. More than a dozen waterfront communities still keep an eye on the Black, opening their doors to visitors and sharing stories of their secret playground.
From Carthage, the Black River heads west through mill communities and the city of Watertown, where whitewater is king and rafting companies offer the East Coast’s greatest paddling adventures. Watertown is also popular with whitewater kayakers, who flock to Northern New York’s urban hub to play on its natural waves. After the Black leaves Watertown, through communities with scores of public fishing access, boat launches, trails and observation areas, it spills into Black River Bay and Lake Ontario. With so much to offer, the Black River is heading for another heyday, as a recreational paradise. Help rediscover New York’s newest outdoor playground!