The Seneca Falls Development Corp (SFDC) announced that Seneca Falls has been selected as a launching point for the new Canal Staycations activity program developed by the New York State Canal Corporation.
Designed to help promote canal and trail activity throughout New York State, the program will offer free kayak rentals and outdoor activities through Labor Day. From the Seneca Falls hub, located at the Seneca Falls Recreation Center, families, couples, and individuals will be able to reserve kayaks and paddleboards for use in the Seneca-Cayuga Canal and adjoining Van Cleef Lake free of charge.
“This is a great opportunity for people to get out and explore our community while still practicing social distancing,” shared Joell Murney-Karsten, SFDC Board Chair. “It’s so important to stay active, and this is a fantastic opportunity for residents and visitors that lasts the entire summer.”
In addition to the beautiful sights that will surround paddlers along the way, the SFDC has created a self-guided water tour so kayakers and boaters can learn more about the history that lies beneath the surface. Prior to the intentional flooding in 1915 when New York State modernized and expanded the Barge Canal System, the “Flats” of Seneca Falls, now Van Cleef Lake, was home to more than 175 houses and businesses.
Each paddler will be provided with a tour map that marks the locations of key underwater sites, including the three original falls, the prominent residences, and the dozens of factories and foundries that helped contribute to the industrial ascent of Seneca Falls.
“Designed with the help of local historians, the map will guide people with interesting facts and photos throughout their journey,” said Greg Zellers, SFDC Director. “It was a lot of fun to create and I think it’s going to offer a whole new appreciation for the once-bustling industrial and residential center that now rests beneath the water.”
The launch site for the free kayak program will be at the Seneca Falls Recreation Center boat ramp, which is located in the rear parking lot of the building at 35 Water Street. From there, visitors can paddle along the harbor and into Van Cleef Lake.
“We’re excited to see Seneca Falls once again recognized as a destination for year-round activity and recreation,” said Seneca Falls Town Supervisor, Mike Ferrara, “and this is something visitors and residents alike should take the time to enjoy.”
The free self-guided excursions will be available July 17 – September 7, Fridays through Mondays, with available slot times of 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. Reservations must be made in advance by calling Fuzzy Guppies at (315) 539-8848. Walk-in rentals are not available and COVID-19 guidelines are in place to maintain safety. Life jackets will be provided free of charge, but visitors are welcome to bring their own.
For more information on the Canal Staycations program and the additional hubs where free activities are available, visit https://canals.ny.gov/canalstaycations.