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Rivers in New York State
Any discussion of waterfalls would have to include the waterway containing them.  Whether it be called a river, stream, creek, kill or something else, a waterfall won't exist without the water that forms it.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website claims that there are over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in New York.  There are so many smaller waterways that you might have a problem counting them all.  Many of them are unnamed.  This page is dedicated to the longer rivers within the state.  We will offer a "Top Six" ... the six longest rivers in the state.  These are, however, not completely witin the boundaries of New York State because part of their waters are in an adjoining state or the country of Canada.  Following this is our "Top Sixteen" ... what we feel are the sixteen longest rivers that are contained contained with the state.  Finally, we will list several other significant rivers.

The longest rivers ...

What are commonly viewed as the six longest rivers in the state are not contained entirely within New York State. 

1 ... St. Lawrence River ... 744 miles, 108 in NY, all shared by Canada
The St. Lawrence is generally considered the longest river in New York.  It is the outlet of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and most sources list it at 744 miles.  Only about 108 miles of it forms the border with Canada.  Several rivers that are completely contained in the state are longer than this.  Within this stretch is the Thousand Islands.  Actually over 1,800 islands, this is some of the prettiest scenery in the country.

Photo credit:  www.schryver.us
Rock Island Lighthouse
Rock Island Lighthouse on the St. Lawrence River

2 ... Susquehanna River ... 464 miles, 136 in NY
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River
At 464 miles, the Susquehanna, like the St. Lawrence, is not entirely contained within the state.  Its source is the outlet of Otsego Lake in the Otsego County Seat of Cooperstown.  It generally flows south and west before entering Pennsylvania roughly 84 miles later in New York's Broome County.  It makes a loop in PA before returning to New York about eight miles west of where it had exited the state.  It makes a loop through the New York Tri-Cities of Binghamton, Johnson City and Vestal before re-entering Pennsylvania 52 miles later.  With a total of 136 miles in the state, this would rank just behind what is generally considered the ninth longest river in the state.  It eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at Chesepeake Bay. 

Photo credit:  visitcentralpa.org

3 ... Allegheny River ... 325 miles, 35 in NY
At 325 miles, the Allegheny is a significant river.  For our discussion, not so much!  Its source is in Potter County PA, about 110 miles southeast of Erie.  It ends in Pittsburgh PA.  Here is joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River.  During its journey from start to finish, it flows through 35 miles of New York State in the extreme southwestern portion of the state.

Photo credit:  allegheny.org
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River

4 ... Hudson River ... 315 miles, the last 25 shared by NJ
Rockwell Falls
Rockwell Falls on the Hudson in Lake Luzerne
Undoubtedly the most famous river in New York, at 315 miles, it is also generally considered to be the longest river entirely contained within the state.  A purist might argue this.  It's true that it does start and end in New York State.  Various sources claim that it originates in the Mount Marcy area.  Since this is New York's highest point, many waterways probably trace their routes there.  Topographical maps first show it just east of Henderson Lake in the Essex County town of Newcomb.  It empties into the Atlantic Ocean in New York City, but the last 25 miles of it forms the border with New Jersey so only part of the end is in New York and part of the end is in New Jersey.  Since 290 miles of the Hudson is in New York State and not shared by another state, it is the longest stretch in New York, but technically it is not entirely within just New York.  It is, however, the first river on our list that contains waterfalls in Northern New York.

5 ... Delaware River ... 301 miles, relatively little in NY 
The Delaware does start in New York State, but this is another river where much of its 301 miles are not in the state.  In fact, there are two branches of the Delaware, both starting in New York.  The West Branch has its source somewhere around the Stamford Reservoir in Schoharie County, just north of the village of Stamford, which is in Delaware County.  The East Branch traces its roots to the town of Roxbury, on the eastern end of Delaware County.  The two branches join in Hancock, New York which is on the Pennsylvania border.  From here, the next 80 miles of the Delaware forms the border with Pennsylvania.  The point at which New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania meet is actually in the Delaware River and this is where it exits the state.  The rest of it flows to the Atlantic Ocean at Delaware Bay With less than 1.5 miles of the West Branch in Schoharie County and the rest of the New York State portion of this river in Delaware County, which borders Pennsylvania, very little of this is entirely within New York. 

Photo credit:  state.nj.us
Delaware River
Delaware River

6 ... Genesee River ... 157 miles, an estimated 20 in PA 
High Falls
High Falls in Rochester on the Genesee
Generally considered to be 157 miles long, we found a website that stated that this is the longest river contained entirely within New York State.  It then went on to say that it starts in Ulysses Township, Pennsylvania.  That one left us wondering how it could be entirely within New York if part of it is in PA!  Granted, much of it is in the state.  This one ends in Rochester, New York at Lake Ontario.

Photo credit:  world-of-waterfalls.com 

Our Top Sixteen ...


The focus of this website is the waterfalls in the upper, or northern portion of New York State.  As such, our concern are the rivers containing those waterfalls.  The next part of this discussion will focus on the sixteen longest rivers that start, end and are entirely contained within New York State.  They never leave the state and they are not shared by any border with another state or Canada.  We originally planned a Top Ten, but our research led us to sixteen rivers that are entirely within the state, we decided to go wild!  It is interesting to note that all of these track their source to the Adirondacks.

1 ... Mohawk River ... 150 miles 
Various sources list the Mohawk River at anywhere from 140 to 150 miles.  As the seventh longest river in the state, we are making the claim that this is the longest ... number one.  The Mohawk is the largest tributary of the Hudson.  Its West Branch starts in the Oneida County town of Lee while the East Branch traces its roots to an area just south of West Leyden, somewhere near the Lewis/Oneida County line.  They converge just west of the Lee/Western town line in Oneida County.  The merged river flows primarilly south to Rome, New York where it continues its journey mainly east before emptying into the Hudson in the Albany area.  We consider this not only the longest river contained entirely within New York State, the stretch from Rome to Albany forms part of the southern boundary of the region we include for waterfalls on this website.  Pictured is Cohoes Falls, the largest waterfall on the Mohawk.  Cohoes Falls
Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River

2 ... Raquette River ... 146 miles
Raquette FallsUsually considered the eighth longest river in the state, we rank this as the second contained entirely within New York.  It originates in the Adirondack heartland at Raquette Lake which is located in the Hamilton County town of Long Lake.  For 146 miles, it flows primarily north to the St. Franklin County town of Bombay.  Within the St. Regis Indian Reservation, it is here that it enters the St. Lawrence River.  As for our discussion of rivers located entirely within New York State, you can't cut this one much closer.  The edge of the mouth of the Raquette is less than one mile from the point at which the Canadian border goes from a water border on the St. Lawrence to a land border.  Pictured is Raquette Falls which is located in Franklin County.


3 ... Oswegatchie River ... 137 miles
At 137 miles, the Oswegatchie is the third longest river entirely within the state.  This river traces its roots to a number of places in the Adirondack Mountains.  The main branch originates in Hamilton County, flows through Herkimer and St. Lawrence Counties where it contains Cranberry Lake.  The Middle Branch starts in a myriad of lakes, most notably Willys and Walker Lakes in the northeastern Herkimer County town of Webb.  This is a very remote area.  This flows back and forth through St. Lawrence and Herkimer Counties before joining the West Branch just south of Harrisville in Lewis County.  The West Branch continues into St. Lawrence County where it connects to the Main Branch in the town of Edwards, just east of the Fowler town line.  As the main channel makes its way to the St. Lawrence River in Ogdensburg, it passes a lesser known portion known as the Island Branch just southeast of Gouverneur.

Photo credit:  Alice Galvin
High Falls
One of two High Falls on the Oswegatchie

4 ... Black River ... 125 miles
Glen Park Falls
Kayakers at Glen Park Falls on the Black
In the neighborhood of 125 miles long, this river is the fourth longest river entirely within the state.  A relatively little known fact is that, in addition to the main channel, there are North, South and Middle Branches of the Black.  All three trace to very remote areas of central Herkimer County.  The North and Middle Branches both flow into North Lake.  The outlet of this is the main channel.  The South Branch, which starts at South Lake joins the main river also just south of North Lake.  From here it makes its way through Oneida, Lewis and Jefferson Counties, where a number of significant rivers feed it.  The outlet of the Black in at the Black River Bay, just west of Watertown on Lake Ontario.  The river in the Watertown area is a whitewater playground.

5 ... Ausable River ... 94 miles
 
The origin of the 94 mile long Ausable involes the west and east branches.  The West Branch begins in the Essex County town of North Elba, just northeast of Heart Lake.  The source of the East Branch is at Upper Ausable Lake, just upstream of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve.  Waterfalls abound on both of these waterways which converge in Ausable Forks, which straddles the Clinton/Essex County Line.  The combined Ausable empties into Lake Champlain in southeast Clinton County, but all but the last three miles or so of this river is the county line. Alice Falls
Alice Falls on the Ausable River

6 ... Saranac River ... 81 miles
 
Cadyville Falls
Cadyville Falls on the Saranac
At 81 miles long, the Saranac enters our list as the sixth longest.  The Saranac is another river that is formed by two branches, the North Branch traces its roots to the Franklin County town of Brighton.  The main channel begins at Middle Saranac Lake.  This is just north of NY 3 in southern Franklin County.  The North Branch merges with the main channel within site of NY 3 by the hamlet of Clayburg.  The combined river empties into Lake Champlain on the south side of the city of Plattsburgh.

7 ... West Canada Creek ... 76 miles
At 76 miles long, this "creek" is actually a significant river and is number 7 on our list.  It traces its source to the West Canada Lakes in south-western Hamilton County.  From there it flows into Herkimer County where it is joined by the South Branch near Nobleboro.  This branch flows mainly west from its source near Pine Lake, also in Hamilton County.  The combined creek flows through Hinckley Reservoir where it becomes the county line between Oneida and Herkimer Counties for about 15 miles.  Near Poland, New York, it flows mainly south and east until it reaches the Mohawk River in Herkimer, New York. Prospect Falls
Prospect Falls on the West Canada Creek

8 ... Grass River ... 70 miles
Lampsons Falls
Lampsons Falls on the Grasse River
The Grass River has multiple sources.  A unique claim for this river is that, although it is 70 miles long, it not only is entirely within New York State, it is entirely in one county, St. Lawrence, the state's largest.  The South Branch starts at the Grass River Flow, just off the south side of NY 3 between Cranberry Lake and Tupper Lake.  The Middle Branch originates in a fairly remote area of the county in the town of Colton.  These two join forces to form the main channel just north of the hamlet of Degrasse in the town of Clare.  The North Branch, which starts just west of NY 56 not far from the Carry Falls Reservoir, joins the main channel just east of the hamlet of Russell.  The Grass terminates at the St. Lawrence River in Massena.  Some sources label this the Grasse River.  According to Cassidy Percoco, Collections Manager at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association, "Based on the information in Claims to Name: Toponyms of St. Lawrence County by Kelsie B. Harder and Mary Smallman, it was originally 'La Grasse', and it looks as though the 'e' was mainly dropped in official usage in the early 20th century - possibly an attempt to streamline or modernize.  In recent years, the 'e' has come back, most likely due to groups like Grasse River Heritage that promote a more historical view."

9 ... Sacandaga River ... 64 miles
Number nine on our list is the 64 mile long Sacandaga River which originates at Lake Pleasant in southern Hamilton County.  A couple of branches feed this river.  The West Branch starts near Meco Lake in the Hamilton County town of Benson.  The North Branch starts near Canary Pond which is not even two miles from Meco Lake, also in Benson.  The North Branch merges with the West Branch just east of where NY 10 crosses the West Branch just north of the hamlet of Arietta, very close to the Fulton County line.  The West Branch joins the main channel about two miles south of the village of Wells/Lake Algonquin.  The main channel continues through the Great Sacandaga Lake and empties into the Hudson River at Hadley.  The Hudson at this point is the Saratoga/Warren County line and Lake Luzerne is just across the river. Christine Falls
Christine Falls on the Sacandaga

10 ... Deer River ... Franklin to St. Lawrence Counties ... 53 miles
Deer River Upper Falls Not to confuse things, there are two Deer Rivers in our region.  This one is way up north.  It starts at Lake Florence, just east of NY 30 in the Franklin County town of Duane.  Almost 53 miles later, it flows into the St. Regis at the hamlet of Helena in the St. Lawrence County town of Brasher.  It contains two waterfalls that we know of, both of which apparently must be reached by canoe.

Photo credit:  Don Feltham

11 ... Moose River ... 52 miles
The 52 mile long Moose River is a very significant river.  This carries a lot of melting snow each spring, contains numerous waterfalls and rapids and is a popular whitewater playground.  The North Branch originates at Big Moose Lake in the Herkimer County town of Webb.  Part of this lake is actually on the Hamilton/Herkimer County line.  The Middle Branch begins at the Fulton Chain of Lakes' First Lake, just east of Old Forge, also in the town of Webb.  These two branches converge just west of the village of Old Forge.  The South Branch traces its routes to Little Moose Lake in the Hamilton County town of Arietta.  These all meet in Webb, just upstream from the hamlet of McKeever.  This is located very near the point where Herkimer, Lewis and Oneida Counties come together.  The combined Moose River empties into the Black in Lewis County at the village of Lyons Falls. Crystal Falls
Whitewater and waterfalls abound on the Moose

12 ... Beaver River ... Hamilton to Lewis Counties ... 47 miles
Taylorville Lower Falls
 Taylorville Lower Falls
This river is 37 miles from its source at Lake Lila to the point at which it flows into the Black River east of Castorland.  This is "as the crow flies".  Considering all of the bends, twists and reservoirs and lakes in its path, it is just over 47 miles long.  It is the second longest tributary of the Black, behind the Moose, detailed previously.  It also has two short branches, the North and South, which both enter at Stillwater Reservoir.  With several waterfalls and many stretches of Class V rapids, this river is a whitewater paradise.

13 ... Salmon River ... Lewis to Oswego Counties ... 44 miles
The most popular of the three Salmon Rivers, probably because of its salmon fishing, is the second longest at 44 miles.  It flows through Oswego County and is entirely contained with the state.  The North Branch, which starts in the town of Boyleston, joins the main channel at the Salmon River Reservoir.  The main channel is formed in two places less than a mile apart and then meander for several miles before joining together.  All three of these points are in the Lewis County town of Osceola.   The Salmon enters Lake Ontario just west of the village of Pulaski.  The most note-worthy waterfall on this waterway is the 110 foot Salmon River Falls.
Salmon River Falls
Salmon River Falls

14 ... Boquet River ... Essex County ... 40 miles
Split Rock Falls
Split Rock Falls on the Boquet
The Boquet starts and ends, and never leaves, Essex County.  Due to the French heritage in this area, it was originally spelled Bouquet.  In 1982, the Board on Geographic Names changed the spelling.  The North Fork originates just north of Dix Mountain.  The South Fork starts a short distance away near Hough Peak.  Both of these points are in the town of Keene.  These two converge about 170 feet into the town of Elizabethtown near the intersection where NY 73 leaves US 9 at the northern end of where they run concurrently.  It empties into Lake Champlain just east of the hamlet of Willsboro.

15 ... Deer River ... Lewis County ... 27 miles
This is the second Deer River on our list.  The better known of two Deer Rivers, both of which are entirely contained within the state starts in the town of Montague.  Twenty-seven miles and four waterfalls later, it flows into the Black River just east of the hamlet of Deer River.  This one never leaves Lewis County. Deer River Falls
A waterfall, a hamlet and a river share the name

16 ... Oswego River ... 24 miles
Oswego Pierhead Lighthouse
Oswego Pierhead Lighthouse at the mouth of the Oswego River
Although it is only 24 miles long, the Oswego has the distinction of being the second largest river in Northern New York emptying into Lake Ontario.  It also is part of what we consider to be the southern boundary of the region covered by this website.  There are five power dams on this river but no waterfalls.  We do not know if any of the hydro facilities were once falls.

Photo credit:  www.schryver.us

17 ... Salmon River ... Franklin County ... 23 miles
 
The final Salmon River is entirely contained within Clinton County.  Starting in the southern part of the county, it enters Lake Champlain just south of the city of Plattsburgh.  At a bit less than 23 miles, it contains one notable waterfall. Schuyler Falls
The Salmon River near Schuyler Falls

Other Significant Rivers ...


There are several other rivers that are fairly significant, either in terms of their length or because of the number of waterfalls on them.  The rest of our discussion focuses on these rivers that were not included above because, like the six longest rivers in the state, are not entirely within the state boundaries.

St. Regis River ... 86 miles, 1/4 mile in Canada!
At 86 miles long, the St. Regis could have claimed the number six spot in our top fifteen if not for one small detail.  The last quarter-mile or so of it is not in New York.  In fact, it isn't even in the United States!  This river traces its roots to the Upper and Lower Saint Regis Lake in Franklin County.  A number of significant waterfalls are found between here and its outlet on the St. Lawrence River.  At the international border, only 0.9 miles separate these two rivers but the outlet of it is less than one-quarter mile further.  There might be some that would argue about this one but most maps clearly label the portion north of the border. In fact, in this region with strong French influence, some of the maps indicate "Riviere St. Regis".

Hoosic River ... 76 miles, about half in MA
The Hoosic River is generally recognized to be just over 76 miles long which should put it in the above at the seventh spot, the eighth if you consider the St. Regis we just mentioned.  Our problem with this one is that it starts in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.  Only a portion of it is actually in New York.  This river is significant to us because a portion of it forms the border between Washington and Rensselaer Counties which we consider the southern-most part of the territory covered by this website in that section of the state.  Any references found to the Hoosac, Hoosick or Hoosuck Rivers are about the same waterway.

Chateaugay River ... 75 miles, a few miles in Canada
With a length of 75 miles, the Chateaugay would also make our top group, but like the St. Regis, it starts in the Adirondacks and ends in Canada.  Its source is the Chateaugay Lakes along the Franklin/Clinton Countly line.  It crosses the international border just northwest of the village of Chateaugay in Franklin County.  A few miles later, its flow turns to the northeast and it parallels the St. Lawrence for a distance before joining it just south of Montreal.  North of the border it is often referred to by the French spelling Chateauguay.

Tioga River ... 58 miles, most in PA
The 58 mile long Tioga is our first Southern Tier river.  This one starts in Bradford County, northern Pennsylvania.  It joins forces with the Cohocton River in the Painted Post/Corning area of Steuben County.  This is the start of the Chemung River.

Chemung River ... 46 miles, most of it in PA
As just mentioned, this river starts at Painted Post/Corning in Steuben County.  It flows east and south and enters Pennsylvania just southeast of Elmira.  Only a mile-and-a-half or so later it comes back into New York State.  This 2.7 mile section again enters our southern neighbor just west of Waverly.  It then flows into the Susuehanna River.  Only a portion of its 46 miles are in New York.

Salmon River ... only 49 miles of it in NY
This is one of the three Salmon Rivers in our region.  It is the longest and the only one not entirely contained within the state.  Originating at Elbow Ponds in the Catamount region of Franklin County, it flows mainly north through Malone and exits into Canada at Fort Covington.  About 49 miles of this one is in the same county, but the rest of it flows into the St. Lawrence in our neighbor to the north.  There are two waterfalls that we know of on this channel.

Niagara River ... 35 miles, all shared with Canada
The 35 mile long Niagara River connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario and forms the international boundary with Canada in that section of the state.  Containing the state's best known waterfall, Niagara Falls, this is not in the North Country.

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