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Old 07-22-2020, 08:52 PM   #1
Viking
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Oswegatchie Question

Good evening all,

Looking at trying to fit in 3 trips yet this year. The last one I am thinking about the Oswegatchie in the first half of October, provided the water levels are kind.

I've gone to High Falls but would like to explore above before deer season.

Can I paddle relatively easily to where the portage trail from Low's meets the river? I am thinking about paddling as far as I can fully loaded. I don't mind some portages and beaver dams but if there are downed trees all over I am thinking about setting up camp just above the falls somewhere and exploring with an empty boat.

For those that have been up there, how did you tackle it?

Thank you.

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Old 07-22-2020, 09:03 PM   #2
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It really depends on the water levels. On my trip through there last week, I was forced to get out of the canoe only twice between the west end of the headwaters portage trail and High Falls. However, as I understand it, my experience was far from the norm, as I was the beneficiary of extremely heavy rains the night before I reached the Oswegatchie. And I don't doubt it- I could see many of the beaver dams and strainers under the water as I was paddling.

The guidebook suggests that under normal conditions (anything outside the spring freshet), you can expect to portage over anywhere between 20 and 40 beaver dams between the headwaters portage trail and High Falls. Based on what I saw, I definitely believe those numbers.

For upstream travel in normal conditions, I'd be hesitant to camp anywhere further upstream than High Falls. I think you'd be glad to have a mostly empty boat for the upper Oswegatchie if you can facilitate it.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:26 PM   #3
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5 Friends kayaked part of the OS last week also and encountered 5 beaver dams. Unfortunately I don't know which part of the OS there were at.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
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5 Friends kayaked part of the OS last week also and encountered 5 beaver dams. Unfortunately I don't know which part of the OS there were at.
if it was only 5 beaver dams it was not upstream of high falls. we stopped counting at 20 something.
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Old 07-22-2020, 10:57 PM   #5
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In the late 80s and early 90s, I always tried to take a trip to the headwaters in early spring, as soon after ice out as possible. It was tough upstream paddling, but above High Falls, it was much easier, as you went right over all those beaverdams and cut out much of the zig zagging. In either '88 or '89, I was in there for 9 days and didn't see anyone the entire time, either on the trip up or down. My 4Runner was the only vehicle at the put-in when I launched and the only one when I returned. I wonder if such a thing is even possible now.
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:49 AM   #6
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if it was only 5 beaver dams it was not upstream of high falls. we stopped counting at 20 something.
I asked-they went from Inlet Rd to Buck Brook
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:29 AM   #7
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I guided several treks from Lows down the Oswegatchie in the early 2000s. We lost count after up to 70 beaver dams on the section above High Falls. Remnants of the 1995 derecho were still very evident.
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:02 AM   #8
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Great photos! I will try to find some of my pre-95 35mm slides of the river, scan and post them.
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Old 07-23-2020, 02:39 PM   #9
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Yep, super photos indeed.
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Old 07-23-2020, 05:38 PM   #10
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agree great pictures , I did this route in early May 2006 and although we did encounter beaver damns and blow downs they didn't seem too bad. Things were definitely not as green then!
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:24 PM   #11
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All,
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:57 PM   #12
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I paddled down from the Low's carry to Inlet in late September 2014. Above High Falls, lots of dams and a sprinkling of deadfalls -- in fact, the worst obstacle was a tree trunk just below water level, all the way across. Also be aware that it is likely to be quite chilly at night. But for your question: why not establish a base near High Falls, as you mention, and do the upper exploration w/o a fully loaded canoe? I would do that, with just my waterproof pack & basics.
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Old 07-24-2020, 08:48 AM   #13
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Oswegatchie Above High Falls

There's a good campsite, above the falls, near (the former) Pine Ridge and just below the Robinson River, that was always a good base camp for me. It provided a lot more solitude than camping at the falls and made excursions to the upper part of the river (and fishing the Robinson) a lot easier.

Here are some photos I took in April 1988:

https://imgur.com/gallery/6jevBGk

In the late 1980s, the numbering of the sites was all messed up - some sites were numbered, some were not. Looking at the map on AndyArthur, I believe the site I camped at in these photos was site #11. I also would camp at #9 near the mouth of the Robinson River.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:45 PM   #14
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I am just back from a seven night trip on the Oswegatchie. Three were above High Falls. We were on the tail end of the higher water DSettahr had on our way in. This is our 10th straight year camping above Hight Falls and the beaver dams up to at least the Robbinson were minimal compared to all other years. There was nothing we could not easily and quickly pull our fully loaded 18' Grumman over until at least marked campsite #9.

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