The Black River Valley runs along the east side of the Tug Hill Plateau and is defined by fertile farmlands, green rolling hills and dairy farms.
Today, the Black River offers numerous opportunities for kayakers and canoeists to enjoy a day on the water thanks to several access points developed for recreational fun. There are plenty of fishing, wildlife and scenic viewing opportunities from both paved and unpaved hiking and biking trails along its banks.
This region also offers a multitude of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes filled with a variety of fish, including trout, bass, pike, perch, and bullhead.
The Black River has developed into a popular site for community paddling events. Riverfest is held each year in Lowville, described as a “community boat paddling event,” it includes canoeists and kayakers of all levels traveling together in a fun and relaxing pace on a scenic stretch of the river. The Black River Challenge is a more competitive canoe and kayak race held each June along a section of the river running from Glenfield to Castorland.
The Tug Hill Plateau’s record-breaking snowfalls provide endless opportunities for winter adventure, including miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin offers downhill skiing and snowboarding and is well-covered each season with heavy lake-effect snow. More than 600 miles of snowmobile trails are available throughout the area.
During the warmer months, a variety of trails are used for hiking and mountain biking, with some offering stunning views of the waterfalls and majestic gorges. These views are especially spectacular in the fall, with landscapes of crisp red, orange and yellow leaves. Many trails offer the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some Tug Hill wildlife, including white-tail deer.
Along the roads through the Black River Valley, visitors will discover an abundance of locally produced crafts, arts, and food products that are sold at general stores, convenience stores, and roadside produce stands. A variety of farmer’s markets along the route offer local foods, including hand-made breads and cheeses, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and maple syrup products.
Recently, the Lewis County Cuisine Trail was launched by Naturally Lewis to showcase 11 local businesses that produced or carried unique food and beverage products made in the region. The 48-mile route runs through the villages of Lowville, Copenhagen, Castorland and Croghan.
The region’s heritage of maple syrup production is celebrated annually for two weekends each March as part of New York Maple Weekend, when producers give visitors a firsthand view of maple sap cooking down to syrup at their sugar houses.
Did You Know?
- The 35-mile stretch of the Black River Canal was comprised of more than 100 locks and served as a feeder route to the Erie Canal System, opening trade and commerce to Northern New York. It was abandoned in 1926 to give way to the railroads and automobiles.
- Maple syrup production has been a traditional and lucrative business throughout the region, and Lewis County has earned a reputation as one of the top producers in New York State. At last count, it was estimated at least 29,000 gallons came from the area.
- The Black River Valley is part of a “Wildlife Connectivity” corridor being monitored by a partnership of agencies tracking wildlife movement between the Tug Hill Plateau and the Adirondacks.
- The Black River Valley region includes both Mennonite and Amish farmers, who travel in horse-drawn buggies and are often seen cultivating their fields with horse-drawn plows. Many of their food products and crafts are sold at local farmer’s markets and roadside stands.