Lowville-Gouverneur Bicycling along the proposed Maple Traditions

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bike map symbolsThe proposed Maple Traditions Scenic Byway will follow the northern half of the former route of the Black River Trail between Lowville and Ogdensburg, taking the Byway traveler through a region known for its maple syrup and for a diversity of wood and agricultural products.

This 48 miles along the Lowville – Gouverneur segment of the planned Maple Traditions Scenic Byway is a ride from the Black River to the Oswegatchie River. Communities along the way are New Bremen, Croghan, Indian River, Harrisville and Balmat.

The route follows part of the Oswegatchie Trail, an historic travel route that held great importance to Native Americans of this region. They followed it north out of the Mohawk River valley to meet the Black River near the present Village of Boonville, then down the 40-mile flatwater stretch of the Black River to Carthage. From there the route continued overland to the Indian River. The Indian River could be traveled for quite a stretch to Black Lake and the Oswegatchie River and then on to the St. Lawrence River.

The Village of Gouverneur was founded in 1868 and is named for Gouverneur Morris, the youngest member of the Constitutional Convention. Referred to as the Marble City, Gouverneur is rich with white dolomite marble, which has been quarried and used for marble products and construction for almost 200 years. The giant Life Savers candy roll that welcomes you to Gouverneur honors native son Edward John Noble. Pep-O-Mint, the company’s first life saver flavor, was promoted by Noble after he purchased the idea from its inventor in 1913. Noble had the hole added to the candy as a safety feature, so that if one stuck in a child’s throat he could still breathe while the candy melted.

While bicycling the roads on and near this Scenic Byway it is likely to encounter the horse-drawn black buggies of the Amish residents and to pass by any number of Amish roadside stands. Amish life is rooted in agriculture, and Amish roadside stands offer maple syrup, fresh produce, baked goods, hand-made quilts, baskets, aprons and other items. The Amish welcome you to stop but ask that you refrain from portrait photography. Stands are closed on Sundays. Stores in the area, such as Picken’s Hall General Store in Heuvelton (also closed on Sunday), offer a large variety of locally made Amish products including furniture, baskets and quilts.

The southern portion of this byway segment features quite a number of mountain bike trails in its more forested area, while in the more agricultural north, road biking opportunities predominate on the many back roads connecting small farming communities.

Road Bike Opportunities

There are a number of on-road rides and loops along this segment of the Maple Traditions Scenic Byway.

Family Rides – For an unpaved path NE 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 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 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 Rides – Just north of the Maple Traditions Byway is the Black Creek Bicycle Loop, in the vicinity of Chippewa Bay. This 21-mile loop can be split into two shorter loops using Rt 37 between Hammond and South Hammond, starting in Hammond, South Hammond or Chippewa Bay. You’ll travel through the South Hammond State Forest, a welcome rest stop for cyclists. Many of Hammond’s early settlers were stone masons, and a number of stone buildings have survived and are now on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • There is also the Black Lake Bicycle Loop in the vicinity of Odgensburg. The 22-mile loop winds through the open, gently rolling land of St. Lawrence County. This is an easy loop ride; you’ll find few elevation changes along the wooded creeks and marshes. Starting in Ogdensburg or at Eel Weir State Park, you’ll find nice views of Black Lake and the Oswegatchie River, as well as of the St. Lawrence. You’ll pass Amish farms, maybe a horse-drawn buggy, and should find a fruit stand or two, along with a general store.

Training Ride – For a training ride, try the Russell-Edwards-Canton Loop near Gouverneur, a nice 51-mile loop east of Gouverneur all on country roads with little change in elevation.

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

Mountain Bike Opportunities

There are a number of mountain biking opportunities along this segment of the Maple Traditions Byway. There are well-equipped bike shops in Watertown and Potsdam that can provide maps and advice on mountain bike rides in the area.

  • The Carpenter Road trail system is on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau just north of Turin off Rt. 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 Rt 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 with skill levels varying from novice to intermediate. There’s a variety of terrain from level, to slightly uphill/gentle downhill, and on to more challenging climbs and downhill runs. 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
  • The Otter Creek Horse Trail System, one of the region’s best-kept mountain biking secrets, is located at the western edge of the Adirondack Park southeast of Lowville and provides great mountain biking for riders of all ability on its well-signed dirt roads and riding trails. The 65 miles of interlocking trails provide plenty of room for mountain bikes and horses. Be considerate of horses on the trails. As you get away from the staging areas, you will likely have the trails to yourself. The Otter Creek Trail System uses a series of old, sandy roads and woods roads that wind along spirea flats, wooded areas, and picturesque ponds. It is a varied and scenic terrain as you follow a number of creeks as well as the beautiful Independence River. The riding is fairly easy – mostly flat to rolling with an occasional climb over a ridge. Try the Blue Jog Trail from the Assembly Area out to the Confusion Flats Trail where the landscape changes dramatically, opening up to the sandy expanse of the flatlands.

Check out these other mountain bike resources covering this segment of the Olympic Byway:

Bike Events in the Area

  • Race with the Wind, Lowville, September-3rd Sunday. Mountain bike through Tug Hill, Lewis County, NY, 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 our selection 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% of New York’s residential power.
  • American Maple Museum, Croghan – Exhibits depict the history of maple syrup- and sugar-making techniques ranging from those used by the Native Americans to plastic tubing and stainless steel evaporators in use today. Audio tapes explain many of the exhibits.
  • Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), Canton – A nonprofit membership organization dedicated to showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of New York’s North Country. Explore their Canton store and their website to discover the diverse customs and traditions – like storytelling, music, crafts, foodways, and folk art – that make life special in our region, from the St. Lawrence River to the Adirondack Mountains.
  • Grasse River Heritage Park, Canton – The Grasse River runs through the middle of Canton, and the Heritage Park has a well-developed walking path along the river that provides interpretation of the local mill history and the famed Rushton Canoe factory. A handicapped-accessible trail leads to a boardwalk and viewing platform at the northern tip of the island.
  • Gouverneur Museum, housed in a former Presbyterian Manse and opened in 1976. It has a large variety of artifacts on three floors and is open year round Wednesday and Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00 and by appointment for individual and group tours.
  • Picken’s Hall General Store, Heuvelton – Nationally recognized historic building on the Oswegatchie River, with an outstanding three-story staircase, and featuring a large selection of locally crafted Amish Goods.

Visitor Information

Always check in with these 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 a rural area 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).