Lowville-Dexter Bicycling along the Black River Trail

bike map symbolsThe 46 miles along the Lowville – Dexter segment of the Black River Trail is a ride along the Black River, catching views of it as it flows past Lowville and on through Carthage, then flowing past the historic mill towns of Deferiet, Great Bend, Felts Mills and Black River – towns whose growth was powered by the Black River as it nears Lake Ontario.

In the city of Watertown you still have the pleasure of riding along the banks of the Black River, and the views continue to impress. Large waterfalls can be enjoyed from bridges in the downtown area. Also take the time to watch the kayaks play in the whitewater course from up on the viewing deck built specifically for that purpose, then go with the flow on through Brownville and into Dexter where the wide Black River meets Lake Ontario.

So take the Black River Trail and watch the water form quiet pools or cascades and then surge into world-class whitewater. Experience this paddlers’ paradise and explore the historic canal communities around every bend – just Follow the Byway that Follows the River.

There are a quite a number of mountain bike trails in the Lowville area, while Watertown has a number of family bike paths and trails in close proximity, while the road biking is hard to beat with quiet back roads along the rivers and along the shore of Lake Ontario.

Road Bike Opportunities

There are a number of on-road rides and loops along this segment of the Black River Trail.

Family Rides − For an unpaved path northeast of  Watertown a few miles, head out to the Calcium Trail, a well-maintained, gravel trail that is wide and flat, except for a small uphill section near the Calcium end. The trail features wooden bridges and and a large pond. It is 2.1 miles from end to end.

  • Or, if a paved path is preferred, right on the eastern edge of Watertown is the Black River Trail, a wide paved trail that is a favorite with families. This 3.3 mile trail is well-used from dawn til dusk and is well-marked with mileage posts from each direction. The Black River end of the trail features a picnic area and access to wide rocks at the edge of the Black River. The river edge is not fenced off and the current is often swift, so keep a close eye on children and pets.
  • For a variety of family riding, there are the Thompson Park Trails right in Watertown, from flat, paved paths that encircle the playground to single-track mountain biking on some steep hills.
    see for more info for a trail map

Moderate Ride – Watertown-Carthage-Evans Mills Loop, a nice 50-mile loop, mainly on back roads.

  • Also try the Sackets Harbor to Cape Vincent (Tibbetts Point) ride, an out-and-back of 60 miles recommended by the Finger Lakes Cycling Club. In riding between centers of historical importance, you get to explore a lot of the extraordinary Lake Ontario shoreline, and the 60 miles could be extended with additional scenic lakeshore riding.

Training Ride – Watertown-Alex Bay-Dexter Loop, a 3/4 century ride (76 miles) up to the St. Lawrence River and back.

For information on touring routes in the area, check out:

Mountain Bike Opportunities

There is a wide variety of mountain biking opportunities along this segment of the Black River Trail. Always dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone.  There are well-equipped bike shops in Watertown that can provide maps and advice on mountain bike rides in the area.

Experience Lake Ontario by mountain bike at the Robert G. Wehle State Park near Henderson Harbor and Sackets Harbor. The former estate of Mr. Wehle boasts 1,100 acres and over 17,000 feet of spectacular Lake Ontario shoreline with over 10 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails.  The park’s network of carriage paths and foot trails pass through a diverse mixture of wetlands, woodlands, meadows and pasture lands. Three miles of dramatic limestone cliffs, some reaching 80 feet high, provide breathtaking scenic overlooks before dropping down to Lake Ontario’s shoreline. see also Northern NY Trails

The Carpenter Road trail system is on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau just north of Turin off Route 26 and offers 8 miles of scenic pathways for bikers during the summer season. The majority of the trail system is fairly easy grade. The West Loop Trail is one of the most popular, 2.3 miles traversing a white spruce plantation as well as a number of natural forest areas.  see also NYS DEC

The Rodman-Barnes Corners-Inman Gulf Trails are situated in the northern portion of the Tug Hill Plateau, adjacent to NYS Route 177 in Jefferson County, south of Watertown between Lowville and Adams Center. Traversing this 12,000-acre woodland are nine different trails varying from .6 to 2.5 miles in length. Most are loop trails and skill levels vary from novice to intermediate. There’s a variety of terrain, from level and slightly uphill/gentle downhill to more challenging climbs and downhill runs on intermediate trails. The land cover types range from northern hardwoods and conifer plantations to open wetlands.  Some trails provide spectacular views of Inman Gulf. For more of a challenge, try the Inman Gulf Trail with its hilly sections and views of the stream and Rainbow Falls.  see also NYS DEC

Check out these other mountain bike resources covering this segment of the Black River Trail:

Bike Events in the Area

  • Race with the Wind − Lowville, 3rd Sunday in September. Mountain bike through the Tug Hill Plateau in New York’s Lewis County, in the shadows of the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi. Much of the route is off-road with some single-track trails. The main route is 50 miles and there is a 20-mile route suitable for beginners or families.
    also see the complete list of bike events for the region

Bike Shops Nearby

Not to Miss

  • Maple Ridge Wind Farm, on the ridge west of Lowville – Largest wind farm east of the Mississippi, its 195 wind towers can provide 2 percent of New York’s residential power.
  • Turning Point Park, Carthage – the northern terminus of the New York State Canal System’s Black River Canal, the place where boatmen had to turn around due to the rapids downstream.
  • New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, Watertown – dedicated to New York’s wild animals and wild places, in Watertown.
  • Waterworks Park and Route 3 Wave, Watertown – The Black River in Watertown has been the site of national championships in freestyle paddling and there are two popular spots with good viewing as well as paddling.
    also see Adirondack Scenic Byways.org for many more points of interest along this route.

Visitor Information

Check in with Chamber offices, bike shops and other sports shops in the area to get the latest information and review your route with someone knowledgeable of the area. When biking, dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone. When biking in rural areas, services could be few and far between, and cell phone service may not always be available. See the Before You Ride notices in the bottom section of this website, as well as the Disclaimer notice.

Here are some of the sights along the way, scroll-over pictures to see locations and click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery (click any image to return here).



Warren County Bikeway Glens Falls Lake George Village