Garangua Creek and Erie Canal
I put in at Swift's Landing which is close to Palmyra, NY. There are numerous spots to put in here; they are all nice and easy, just a tad muddy.
The flow of the creek is actually pretty decent right around the corner from the put in, with some rapids and lots of obstructions. I rated the entire trip as moderate difficultly, but once you hit Norsen Bridge Park, the trip becomes very easy. Before the park you will find lots of down trees with a small area cut into the obstruction, sometimes only a few feet wide. There are also quite a few bridges with some fast moving chutes underneath. Some of the bridges look like they could fall in at any moment. Of course they are no longer used and the rusty girders and weather worn boards are actually quite enjoyable to look at.
This entire area is heaven for bird watchers. I played tag with some Great Blue Herons, saw numerous Cardinals, and a lot of Red Winged Black Birds. There were also some bright, orange birds I did not recognize as well as numerous other birds that I did not see, but instead just heard. In some areas, the only sound you will hear is the bird calls and the sound of the creek. There are also a lot of Lavender trees, so for most of the trip, the air is heavily scented.
Once you pass Norsen Park, the creek really slows down and opens up. I would suggest beginners start their trip here instead of the Swift's Landing put in. The distance from Swift's landing to Norsen park is roughly 8 miles.
As you get closer to the Erie Canal, you'll start to see more and more cottages and hear more traffic. About 8 miles from Norsen park, you'll see Abbey Park. This is a nice spot to take out and rest for the next portion of the trip. There are pavilions, running water, and bathrooms here. This is also a good spot to end the trip as there is plenty of parking and easy access to and from the canal.
I still did not want to end my day after reaching this spot just over 5 hours into my trip, so I headed on to Lock 27 on the Erie Canal.
I have never been though a lock before, so I thought I would portage around... bad idea. You will need to portage about a mile and cross the Route 14 bridge to get to the south side of the canal.
I stopped and talked to the lock keeper, so I would know how to lock through the next time. He told me they really don't mind opening the lock for a lone kayak and told me to just call the number on the sign as I approach the lock to get set up. Great information for next time!
After you get back in the water (or through the lock) you'll be on very flat, barely moving water. The current is about 1 mile and hour and heads east. Between Lyons and Clyde, the canal is very quiet. I have done this section four times now and I have only seen a total of four other boats.
There are a few old boarded up warehouses, a couple of train bridges and one automobile bridge over the next 15 miles. Just beware, there are only a couple of places to take out once you commit to this section.
About 5 miles from Lock 27, you can make a quick portage and go into the Clyde River. I have done that trip a couple of times too. Which ever way you decide, you'll end the trip back on the Erie Canal in Clyde NY. There is a nice take out spot just east of the Route 414 bridge.
Swift's landing has bathrooms, but I did not see any running water.
Norsen Park has bathrooms and running water.
Abbey park has bathrooms and running water.
No fees at any of the locations. Non-motorized craft can go through the locks for free. The locks operate May 1st -November 15th, but call ahead to make sure they are operating.
Swift's Landing is right off of Route 31 just East of Palmyra. Keep you eyes peeled for the sign.
Norsen Park can be reached by taking Layton St out of Lyons or Pulver Road off of Route 88.
Abbey Rd is just east of Route 14 in Lyons. Take Layton St East from Route 14 until it turns into Water St.
"Take a Paddle," by Rich and Sue Freeman