A backyard adventure: Roaming the rivers of the Twin Tiers

By Kelly McCarthy

September 27, 2013 Updated Sep 27, 2013 at 11:31 PM EDT

Norwich, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Local river guides say area waterways are an underutilized asset in the Twin Tiers, although they have all the elements for engaging activities.

During an afternoon paddle down the Chenango River, it wasn't what Ken Smith saw that made him upset, it was what he didn't see.

"It was a beautiful day, a beautiful section of stream," said Smith, Executive Director at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County, "We spent the whole day out, we caught a lot of fish, saw bald eagles, had a great time but we didn't see one other canoeist, not one other kayaker."

That prompted Smith to create the Recreational River Guide. It maps out miles of river trails, explains its difficulties, and among other tips, which spots have the best fishing.

"They might have a canoe, they might want to get out," Smith said, "But not really know just where they need to start, where they need to finish and some of the details, and we provide that with this book."

The river guide allows beginners to go on an adventure close to home without spending a lot of money.

"It's very inexpensive," said Mike Mayhood, owner of Mayhood's Sporting Goods. "Once you get your initial gear, and you can get kayaks for very reasonable, you're all set. You don't have any maintenance hardly to them at all, you don't have any other expenses except for the gas to get to the river."

A low cost makes it easy to take advantage of the recreational sport offered in a location with untapped potential for future business.

"We also think there's an opportunity for rental for canoes, tubes, kayaks," Smith said, "There's a little bit of that but we think there's more opportunity. We also think that greater use of the rivers would promote some of the bed and breakfasts and restaurants in the area."

Smith hopes a greater awareness will give others the chance to see some of nature's most appealing views.

"Oh it's beautiful," Mayhood said, "There's place where you wouldn't even know there was a car or a house around. There are some stretches where you can see the highway and you can see people and you can see buildings, but there are some areas that you think you're right in the jungle."

Smith said the fall is one of the best times to get out on the water because river levels are more stable than during the summer. And paddlers get the chance to take in the fall foliage.

For more information on how to obtain a Recreational River Guide, contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County.