Kayak season is here, and I am fully embracing it. When summer started to approach, I decided that this summer I would do my best to be more active. I joined a summer bowling league, which has a bonus of additional free bowling. My average is not that good, the bigger problem is being inconsistent. The other week I bowled a 155 and followed it up with an embarrassing 114. Then came back with a 217. I planned to scuba dive weekly at a local quarry with one of the local dive centers. After my first dive, I postponed my next one till the water is a little warmer. Even with a 5 mm wetsuit, it was not comfortable. The Kayaking is going well, and I plan on kayaking around Rochester this summer. Kayaking, walking and scuba diving are all a portion of my dose of Nature RX.
Kayaking Around Rochester This Summer.
This is my 4th summer having my Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak, and I am still very happy with it. One of the great things about the Sea Eagle is that I can keep it in my car and have it there any time I feel like going kayaking. As an example, the other week after bowling, I dropped in at Mendon Ponds Park and spent an hour paddling the 100 Acre Pond. My plan is to paddle at least twice a week. I also want to explore more places, my goal is at least a dozen different launches. There are so many options for kayaking around Rochester. Most of the time I will be going out on my own, however, there are a few events that I am planning on joining. The Genesee Waterway Center has a few community paddles planned. I joined one of their community paddles a few years ago, before I got my kayak, and rented a kayak for the trip.
The meet-up point was at River Street Marine in Charlotte. That is almost to Lake Ontario. Leaving the cars there, everyone loaded into vans for a trip to the Seth Green Launch on the Seth Green trail. The launch point is just downstream from the lower falls. Before heading down the river, we all got a close look at the falls. Once we started down the river, it seemed we left civilization. The river is in a gorge part of the way, and you cannot hear any traffic noises, except when you go under a bridge. I did hear what sounded like a lion, no not wild, the paddle past Seneca Park Zoo. The trip past Turning Point Park and Rattlesnake Point. I did not know that Bruce’s backyard had a name. Then back to River Street Marine. It was a truly remarkable trip and very easy to forget you were in the city. They are not doing that trip this year, but If I can find someone to go with me, I might try it. The Genesee Waterway Center is doing a few trips this year that sounds very interesting. The one I really want to try is from the center on the Genesee River across to the Erie Canal and heading towards Pittsford and Lock 32. The trip is about 5 miles long and requires a passage through lock 33. Should be fun.
Another Activity I plan on doing is at Bay Creek Paddling Center. They are located on Empire Blvd, where Irondequoit Creek enters the bay. I have taken their “mystery” wetlands trip before, and it is a lovely way to explore the Lucien Morin Park, formerly called Ellison Wetlands. They have weekly races and cookouts. They are more time trails, as you set off when you want, and are timed over a 2-mile course. The first time I will do this, I will rent a kayak from them to get a baseline. Then later I will use my kayak to see how much slower it really is.
Let’s talk about kayaking around Rochester.
Kayaking Hemlock Lake
This will be the first in a series of articles in which I will describe the different launch points and kayaking around Rochester, as I add them to my summer. Hemlock Lake is one of the sources of water for the City of Rochester. Hemlock Lake and nearby Canadice Lake have undeveloped shorelines and have restrictions on boating. Power boats less than 15 feet in length with motors under 10 hp are allowed, all others are prohibited. Hemlock Lake is just over 7 miles long and a little over half a mile wide. South of the lake itself is protected wetlands. This results in the largest undeveloped shoreline in the state.hemcangenrivbls
Hemlock Lake has two launch points. The north launch point is 1 mile from the north end of the lake on the east side and is accessible by paved road. The launch allows for boats to be launched from trailers and hand launches. During the week, there are very few boats, and the parking lot is mostly empty. The parking lot is also the access point for a hiking trail. On weekends, the parking lot is likely to be full and cars and trailers are lining the road leading to the parking lot. Also off the parking lot is a small hand launch area that allows you to get your kayak or canoe into and out of the water away from the boats. Boating and kayaking are not allowed north of the launch point.
This North Launch was the first one I did this year, and my most frequent destination since I got my Sea Eagle. There are hills on either side of the lake, about a 600-foot elevation change between the lake and St Michael’s on the west side. The east side is higher, with route 15A running parallel to the lake but mostly much higher. Once you leave the parking area, all you hear is nature.
The hills can create a bit of a wind tunnel effect if the winds are coming from the north or south. My Sea Eagle is high, so the wind does have more impact on it than you would have on a hard kayak. However, if the winds are more from the east or west, the hills protect the lake and things stay calm. I generally stay on the east side of the lake and close to the shore. It is great to watch the birds, and you can sometimes see fish passing by. I have four paddles here so far this year but have not spotted any eagles yet. There are eagles that nest in the forest around the lake, and I have seen some on numerous paddles in the past.
The south of the lake has another launch point, conditions are a bit different at the south point, and it does lead into the wetlands. As I have not visited there this year, I will leave a description of that area of the land for another article.
Mendon Ponds Park Kayaking Around Rochester
Mendon Ponds Park is the largest of Monroe County’s parks with over 2,500, areas of woodlands, wetlands, ponds, and glacially created landforms. As a teenager, I would sometimes ride my bike to the park. My favorite part was the Devil’s Bathtub. The park is still one of my favorite places to hike. Check out the Park’s webpage and look at the brochure about glacial history. This park is great for a leisure day when Kayaking Around Rochester.
Three of the ponds are accessible for hand launches. 100 Acres Pond is the largest and most used. The primary launch is on the east side of the pond off Douglas Road. There is a nice parking area, a gravel launch point, and a small dock. While not shown on the park map, the DEC website shows a second launch point on the west side of the pond at the Pond View Shelter. The pond, is surprise, about 100 acres in size. It is relatively shallow, with much of it less than 5 feet deep. The maximum depth is about 10 feet. The shoreline is about 2 miles, some of it is a marsh, so plenty of distance for you to cover. This is my second most paddled destination and my second launch point for this year.r8oowmampbls
The south end of the 100 Acres Pond has a small inlet from Deep Pond. You can kayak Deep Pond from 100 Acres Pond or by launching at the Algonkian shelter. Again, the launch location is shown on the DEC website, but not the parks. The fourth launch site is at Round Pond. Round Pond is small.
Kayaking Conesus Inlet
This is my third launch point for this year, and the first time I have used it. Conesus Inlet Fish and Wildlife Management Area is 1,120 acres. The area is a mix of marsh and a floodplain. It is located south of Conesus Lake. The launch point is near the lake, and you can either paddle in the lake or head deeper into the management area. Conesus Lake has three other access points. The Conesus Outlet at the north end of the lake in Lakeville has two hand launch points. The Conesus Lake Marine Park is about 4 miles from the north point of the lake on the east side. However, this launch point is frequently very busy, and the parking lot can be full. Kind of busy for kayaking and this location has a parking fee.coneshonlksbls
I enjoyed my paddle at Conesus Inlet and will likely try it again. Once in the inlet itself, I turned away from the lake and enjoyed the small stream heading towards the wildlife area. I paddled against a slight current at first, viewing numerous birds. Red-winged Blackbirds were the most common, and I did also see a few gray herons. I also found out that a beaver can swim faster than I can paddle. I only made it to the first bridge, before the water became too shallow for me. Next time I may try to portage past that point to get to the ponds further in.
Kayaking around Rochester is Outstanding.
There are likely over 100 launch sites in the area. The Finger Lakes, Genesee River, Erie Canal, and Lake Ontario along with smaller waterways give us many outstanding and varied paddles. I would like to do some downriver paddles on the Genesee River, but that will depend on finding someone to kayak with.