Off the Beaten Path – Owasco Inlet

Join us for a special treat! Our long-time volunteer and resident adventure-seeker, Brenda Mott, will be sharing her adventures in her blog series, Off The Beaten Path. With so many adventurous places in the Finger Lakes region you may have already heard of, Brenda is sharing the not-so-heard-of hidden gems that are right under our noses.  Brenda will be exploring these gems to share them with you so you can begin your own adventures Off The Beaten Path. 

Let’s join Brenda and Lola on this month’s adventure at Owasco Lake!

Stay connected for more intriguing blog posts coming soon!

A Very Busy Saturday…

I was around the 2-mile mark of my paddle when the trees gave way to fields and you could see it was privately owned lands.  There was a family camping right off the river.  I looked up and saw a man sitting in his chair on the higher bank.  We nodded and said our, “Good Mornings”.  I looked again and noticed he had a large hunting knife and was in the process of cutting off one leg of his jeans, while he was wearing them.  He saw me look again and stated, “I remembered to pack everything but my shorts”.  “That happens”, I replied, “But I think you are supposed to take them off when you do that”.  He laughed and said, “Yea, but I don’t want to end up with a pair of Daisy Duke shorts”.  “I see your point”, I replied.  We nodded again and I continued on my way.   That was on the Owasco Inlet.  The Inlet was the first part of a two adventure day.

I had decided to spend an entire Saturday out by Owasco Lake, and what a day it was!  I loaded up Lola (my Jeep renegade, yes, I named my jeep) with my kayak, backpack, camera, some snacks, my sense of adventure and a lot of coffee.  What?  It was really early on a Saturday morning, I needed coffee.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring my dog on this trip.  The cockpit of my kayak isn’t big enough for both of us (she’s a black lab) although I am sure she would be happy try…

The Owasco Inlet is a river that starts at an unnamed marsh north of Freeville, NY and flows north for roughly 24 miles before emptying into Owasco Lake.  It is a major tributary to the lake.  Along the inlet at the south end of the lake there’s an 89-acre nature preserve called the Owasco Flats.  The Flats is a large wetland area.  There is also a 1.7-mile trail that goes along the inlet and loops onto the former Lehigh Valley railroad rail-bed and back around to the start.

The access to put in for the kayak is at the nature preserve.  It is a cartop boat launch.  It is south of the South Shore Marina. The address is 2799 Fire Lane, Moravia, NY 13118.  Longitude- 42.754795 / Latitude- 76.464301

It is an hour and a half drive for me so I left really early.  I had a lot to fit in that day.  I got and got everything unloaded and finally get my kayak onto the river.  Ahhhhhh, back on the water.  It’s been a while since I paddled.  The inlet is wide and the water flow is leisurely.  It looks to be a fine day.  I immediately notice a cove across from the launch that catches my interest and warrants further investigation.  I love those types of things when I’m paddling, exploring all the nooks and crannies.  You never know what you’ll find.  I decided to stop there on my way back, so off I go.  It is a nice easy paddle.  The river is wooded on both sides and really gives you the feeling of being “in nature”.  Shortly into my paddle I heard brush cracking on my left and looked over.  There was a doe standing just off the edge of the bank staring at me like, “Hey, what are you doing here?”.  But, before I could get my camera or phone up to take a photo, she sauntered off back into the brush.  Note to self, “Keep the camera closer”.   The water was smooth like glass and looking down the river it was difficult to tell where the trees ended and the river began because the water was like a mirror.  Since it was early, I was the only one out on the river and other than the occasional car motoring down Route 38 it was quiet.  There were trees all along the banks and you could see where the erosion was washing the ground right out from underneath some of them.  So much that a few of the trees were actually leaning in over the river, holding on to whatever was left of the bank beneath.  It seemed like they were bowing and welcoming me to their river (either that or they were trying to block my way-not sure which).

After passing the family camping, I paddled another mile so and stopped for a snack.  While sitting in my kayak I decided to see how far the river actually goes.  The map on my phone showed me 24 miles!  Wait.  What?  I didn’t realize it went that far.  Note to self, “Next time look at a map before you set out”.  I will have to make plans (and look at the map) to come back for an entire day to go from one end to the other.  But, not today, I still had to go check out another park.  So, I turned around and headed back to the launch.  I went back past the family camping and the man had his “not Daisy Duke” shorts finished without any obvious issues.  The paddle back was moving faster as I was with the current now.  I did notice that other than that deer and the usual birds I really didn’t see any wildlife.  There were a lot of beaver slides on the banks, but nothing else, not even a heron or duck.  But there was this one bird that seemed to be following me down the river.  It would fly ahead and land in a tree on the bank and wait.  I’d paddle by and it would again fly ahead and land in a tree on the bank.  This happened several times. It may just have been different birds that looked the same, but I don’t know, it seemed like it was watching me.  Ok, maybe I did have too much coffee……  Further down I was looking around at the trees and daydreaming when something caught my eye.  Something in the trees.  I paddled over for a look closer.  There was an aluminum canoe standing up on end next to one of the trees.  Not sure if it was supposed to be there or if it got washed up that way in the spring.  Weird.  Although, I have found that if you take the time to look, you will see the darndest things in trees.   When I got closer to the launch, I could see the cove that was across the way.  Without thinking I swung my kayak in to explore it.  As I got a little further in, I saw turtles.  Lots of them.  They were on every log that was sticking out of the water, everywhere.  And they didn’t jump into the water as I paddled by.  I continued heading in.  I found where all the wildlife was hiding.  They were in the cove.  There were Great Blue Herons, a Green Heron and ducks and geese galore.  I kinda felt like I was intruding on a private party.  Of course, they all took flight when they saw me (and before I could get my camera).  What was that note to myself earlier???  Rather than disturbing them further I headed back over to the launch.  As I came out of the cove there was a flurry of kayaks and people that had just put in to start their paddle.  One of them asked as we passed if I saw any wildlife on my paddle.  I chuckled and said, “Oh yea, all kinds.  Herons, ducks, geese and lots of turtles”.  I didn’t tell them they were all in that little cove across the way.  Let them enjoy their paddle first, they’ll find them.

I hauled my kayak out and loaded things up.  Next, I was headed for Fillmore Glen State Park for the 2nd part of this adventure….


So, until next time-get outside!



The best adventures often begin with a single step outside of the comfort zone…

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