Bicycling Carthage-Sackets Harbor & Henderson Harbor, Olympic Byway
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The 36 miles along the Carthage-Sackets Harbor & Henderson Harbor segment of the Olympic Byway takes you through Watertown and out to the shore of Lake Ontario. Following the Black River much of the way, it goes through the communities of Herrings, Deferiet, Great Bend, Felts Mills, Black River, Watertown, Brownville and Dexter – near where the Black River enters Lake Ontario. Sackets Harbor is a scenic, historic community with a number of inviting shops, historic buildings and the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site. Another nine miles of nice riding south of Sackets Harbor brings you to Henderson Harbor, another scenic lakeshore community. The Black River Trail Scenic Byway meets the Olympic Trail in Carthage, while the Great Lakes-Seaway Trail intersects the Olympic Trail at Dexter.
Road Bike Opportunities
Family Rides – For an unpaved path northeast of Watertown a few miles, head out to the Calcium Trial, 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 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 (more info and a trail map).
Moderate Ride – Watertown-Carthage-Evans Mills Loop, a nice 50-mile loop, mainly on backroads.
- Sackets Harbor to Cape Vincent (Tibbetts Point), an out-and-back ride of 60 miles recommended by the Finger Lakes Cycling Club. In riding between centers of historical importance, you get to explore Lake Ontario’s shoreline. The 60 miles could be extended with additional scenic lakeshore riding.
Training Ride – Watertown-Alex Bay-Dexter Loop, a 3/4 century ride up to the St. Lawrence River and back.
For information on touring routes in the area, check out:
- 25 Bicycle Tours in the Adirondacks
- Lewis County Bike Map
- Lewis County Bike Rides & Events
also see our selection of road rides throughout the region
Mountain Bike Opportunities
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, over 17,000 feet of spectacular Lake Ontario shoreline, and 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 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 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 Olympic Byway:
- Adirondack Park Mountain Bike Atlas
- Otter Creek State Forest Horse Trails
- Mountain Biking in the Adirondacks, 25 Trail Riding Adventures
- 25 Mountain Bike Tours in the Adirondacks
also see our selection of mountain bike rides throughout the region
Not to Miss
- Turning Point Park in 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, dedicated to New York’s wild animals and wild places, in Watertown.
- Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, illustrating how Sackets Harbor became the center of American naval and military activity for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario.
also see Adirondack Scenic Byways.org for many more points of interest along this route
Bike Events in the Area
- Race with the Wind, Lowville, 3rd Sunday in September – Mountain bike through the Tug Hill Plateau in Lewis County in the shadow 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
- Black River Adventure Shop, Watertown
- Blue Cat Cycles, Watertown
also see the complete list of bike shops for the region
- Thousand Islands Region
- St. Lawrence County
- Carthage Area Information
- Sackets Harbor Area Information
also see the complete list of visitor information resources for the region
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.
Below are some of the sights along the way – scroll over an image to see its title, or click an image to enlarge it and then move through the entire gallery (click on one of the large images to return here).