Paddling is a great way to enjoy the foliage and with easy social distancing! Explore one of the beautiful NYC reservoirs or take a trip down the East Branch of the Delaware like John Burroughs.
The NYC reservoirs offer up some of their secrets at this time of year, when waterfalls that are usually under water are revealed by the seasonal drop in water level. Who knows what other treasures you might find.
Reservoir Boating – Provide your own CANOE or KAYAK (boats and paddles must be steam cleaned prior to putting it in the reservoir) or rent from a local business that has kayaks stored on site — see more below. See DEP boating brochures for each reservoir for the launch site options.
Pepacton – located in Delaware County along the southern edge of the State’s forever wild Catskill Park, the Pepacton is formed by the damming of the East Branch of the Delaware River. It consists of one basin, approximately 15 miles in length and holds 140.2 billion gallons at full capacity, making it the largest reservoir in the City system by volume. It was placed into service in 1955. Our favorite launch spot is the Shavertown Bridge – there’s so much to see if you head up the Tremperskill, check out the safe if you head towards Downsville or visit the Barkaboom in the Margaretville direction. Moore’s Falls, which used to power a mill on the Tremperskill Stream is only visible in the fall.
Cannonsville – Formed by the damming of the West Branch of the Delaware River, the Cannonsville is the newest and least well known of the NYC reservoirs. It was placed into service in 1964 and holds 95.7 billion gallons at full capacity. Bald eagles and other wildlife can often be spotted while you enjoy a quiet paddle.
Neversink – Located in Sullivan County, is formed by the damming of the Neversink River. It holds 34.9 billion gallons at full capacity. Ironically, the creation of the Neversink Reservoir inundated the original town of Neversink which was relocated, unlike most of the towns under the reservoirs.
Schoharie – The Schoharie reservoir is one of the smaller Catskills reservoirs, and is home to the Gilboa Dam. Submerged under the water at the southern end of the reservoir is Devasego Falls, a 70-foot-wide former waterfall that once was quite the tourist attraction. Along with the falls is the site of the former town of Gilboa which like many small Catskills towns was moved when New York City decided to dam up the creeks and put a reservoir on top of it.
There are two boat launches that lead into the Schoharie Reservoir: Devasego Park (named for the long-lost falls) is on the Schoharie Creek, a mile and a half upstream from the reservoir’s southern tip. The other, Snyder’s Cove, sits at the reservoir’s midsection.
East Branch of the Delaware River – The East Branch is mostly quiet water with a few more active sections that are easily navigated with basic paddling skills. The river is generally 2-3 ft deep with some places lower and higher, probably mostly lower at this time of year. Al’s Sports Store offers trips with car shuttles as well as canoe and kayak rentals. Water depths and conditions can change so it’s always good to call for advice.
West Branch Delaware River – Spring rains and snow-melt make for a fun run on this meandering river through the beautiful rolling hills of Delaware County. Hold on tight to your paddle through the quick bends, and share the long flats with kingfishers, mergansers, herons, osprey, and bald eagles. A classic trip is from Bloomville or Delhi to Hamden. Put in at public bridges. The River can be too low to float during times of little rain, so check water levels before you go! Canoe rentals are available in Walton . The 18 mile trip from Delhi has Class I-II rapids.
Big Pond – The beautiful mountain setting of this medium-sized, deep lake will keep you coming back, as will the bald eagles and great fishing. Big Pond is made for relaxing and paddling. Open for trout fishing year-round, Big Pond is a Catskills hot-spot for ice-fishing in winter. Pitch your tent at one of four designated campsites.
Susquehanna River – between Oneonta and Cooperstown, the Susquehanna is a wide lazy river, perfect for a relaxing day in your canoe, kayak or maybe even a stand up paddleboard. Boat rentals and other info available in Portlandville.
Reservoir Boating Info: Life jackets required. All boats must be steam cleaned prior to arrival on site and have a valid DEP access sticker. Many vendors store boats on site, requiring only that you visit the store to pay and to pick up paddles and PFDs. Make sure you call ahead to reserve a boat or make an appointment for steam cleaning since availability may vary due to the pandemic. Paddlers must have a valid DEP access permit, available free online.
For steam cleaning and rental vendors as well as more information on regulations, please visit the CWC website – and see the specific brochure for each reservoir. You’ll earn a CWC paddling patch if you paddle one of the reservoirs – see the details there.