The Normanskill, Albany, NY
Hard to believe, but true, kayaking the Normanskill Creek in Albany is every bit as exciting and relaxing as anywhere I’ve ever kayaked in NYS. I only discovered the Normanskill this fall (2006) so I can’t report on conditions in the spring, but have heard it’s FAST then. I hope it stays unspoiled by development… the steep banks, sometimes swift flow and environmental regulations all help. So far, I’ve seen deer, beaver, turtles, ducks, geese, an owl, lots of wild turkeys and even a big old heron presiding over it all. And all only 2 or 3 miles from the center of Albany.
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER: OLDEST REPORTS FIRST
Spring 2007 Report:
April 16th Rainstorm GOOD NEWS: a foot of water in our back yard and lots of water for the Normanskill.
April 23rd: Outrageously perfect weather! I said I wish I was on the water and my wife said go…
I put in at New Scotland Ave. at the new picnic area (the one with the gazebo) the city built on the Albany/Bethlehem line. Be careful; the banks are steep. The current’s really not as strong as I expected after last week’s rain. I paddled about 4 miles upstream (almost to Krumkill Road) until encountering a flow that’s always too strong for me and as usual I let the creek turn me around and resigned myself to an easy 4 miles back down to New Scotland Ave.
Just wait til it’s green.
Next time, I’ll see what’s downstream from New Scotland Ave. That’s only maybe 2 miles each way and one must turn back before one gets to the City Gardens where the Normanskill gets too shallow and swift to paddle back up. Then, on the downstream side of the Delaware Ave. bridge, there are conditions that “would probably kill the average kayaker” according to a NYSDEC expert.
June 2007 Report:
June 16th: Probably not poison ivy. Perfect weather today. Put in at New Scotland Avenue.
It’s green and lush and there are scarce few signs of our city of almost a hundred thousand.
Here’s Albany Muni and a golfer waving hi. Don’t go below the golf courses if you want to be able to paddle back upstream. Anyway, conditions below the Delaware Ave. bridge are deadly. Literally.
I paddled back upstream to New Scotland Ave., then a mile farther upstream until this newly toppled tree blocked me. Normally, I’d go over or around it, but felt lazy. Maybe a torrential rainstorm or the government or somebody will move it. I went downstream as far as the golf courses again, then back up here, then down to New Scotland Ave., perhaps 10 miles total; not bad for feeling lazy.
July 2007 Report:
This tree is a mile up from New Scotland Ave. and needs a good trimming so paddlers can go around it.
Packing list for someone’s next trip: Camera, sandwich, snacks, energy drink, bow saw…
Finally, a shot of my buddy, the great blue heron in air, upper left. He plays hide and seek for miles.
Playing through…please don’t hit my kayak… Golf ball retrieval technique…
Poached golf balls.
Who loses the most balls… Albany Municipal or Normanskill Country Club?
I’m not tellin’.
August through October 2007 Report:
Apple tree just above Albany Muni.
This colossal-size tree fell from the Albany side and almost completely blocks the creek halfway between New Scotland Ave. and Krumkill Rd. Impassable? Nah.
A beaver “bachelor dam” in progress on the Bethlehem side.
Attention all wanna-be kayak-stoppers: you will fail!
A little island made entirely of clay.
A little bit below Krumkill Road, the water gets too quick and shallow for me to continue going upstream. How about for you?
April 2008 Report:
The Normanskill is swollen with water and it’s moving fast…quite a workout!
Looks like the spring melt has washed away every single tree and jam shown above.
Here’s the latest waterfront development.
25 April 2008 Special Report:
THE UPPER NORMANSKILL
We put in just below the Watervliet Reservoir. From the reservoir down to Krumkill Road, the Normanskill is essentially one-way, there being many small rapids.
The cliffs I’ve heard about, but didn’t believe. Can you see my fellow kayaker up ahead? He’s just starting down the small rapids.
Major logjam. No way to sneak around this one; we had to portage. We took different ways. For me, it was easiest to go right through some blackberry brambles. This is one of the two jams that completely block paddlers and must be portaged around.
July & August 2008 Report:
Sat. 26 July Thanks to this week’s rainstorms, the Normanskill is swollen with water, fast and muddy. This is fun and a great workout. I paddle against the current all the way from the golf courses, up past Krumkill Road to the logjam, then back down.
The floodwater was ten feet high. Glad I wasn’t here then. Someday, on shore, I’d like to see the Normanskill flood up during a big rainstorm!
Here is the Krumkill Road area:
Old Krumkill Road bridge foundation.
WHERE I GO IN:
The City of Albany has a little park with one picnic bench and a small gazebo at the city limit on New Scotland Avenue. Currently, there’s a lot of construction (mainly the Route 85 bridge) all over the place, but there’s still plenty of parking. They’re building what looks like a pedestrian bridge nearby and I have heard they have hiking trails in mind. Easier canoe/kayak access is planned by NYSDEC and the City of Albany.
The “path” in at New Scotland Ave.
Steep and slippery. I have ropes, fore and aft, so I can “guide” my craft into the water, hopefully without breaking my neck. At least the kayak is nearly indestructible.
Very steep and at least 15 feet down. Once in, I can paddle about 2 miles down to the golf courses as well as 6 miles up, past Krumkill Rd.
Frank Smith Signs (518) 449-8945 • 9am-5pm EST unless kayaking
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