Chemung River Friends ...Friends of the Chemung River Watershed in Finger Lakes Region of NY


2019 Chemung River Paddle Showjourn

Here’s your chance to join 50 paddlers on a two-day, one-night summer trip on the Chemung River

You can be part of an adventurous, first-ever two-day and one-night paddle trip on the Chemung River from Corning to Wellsburg this summer. The 2019 Chemung River Showjourn will provide river guides, meals, entertainment, education and the fun and thrills of paddling with 50 other river fans.

Be one of the first 50 paddlers to register for the event at  Go to the “looking for event” box and type in “2019 Chemung Showjourn.”  You must buy a ticket for each day of the paddle.

The 24-mile showjourn begins at the Conhocton Street Boat Launch on Saturday, June 22, and ends at the Toll Bridge Boat Launch on Sunday, June 23.  Paddlers will stop for lunch at Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch in Big Flats, and eat dinner and camp at the Grove Street Boat Launch in Elmira. On Sunday, the paddle trip continues to Wellsburg with a lunch on an island in the river.

“We call it a showjourn because we want to show off the river’s beauty, recreational opportunities and community connections,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “We also want to demonstrate the safe and responsible way to paddle a river with many paddlers.”  

Southern Tier Kayak Tours, Chemung River Friends and the AHWAGA Canoe & Kayak Club will provide experienced guides. Along the way paddlers will learn about river history and wildlife, Native American villages, river lore, threats to our rivers and what we can do to be good stewards of our waterways.

The sojourn is open to the first 50 paddlers who purchase tickets on this site. Children, 12 years old and above are welcome if accompanied by an adult. You must register in advance and the registration deadline is May 31. Paddlers can bring their own canoes, kayaks and equipment or rent a boat from one of the river outfitters below. If you want a vegan or vegetarian meal, please contact River Friends (at or 607-846-2242) after you register online.

The paddle is open to the first 50 paddlers who register online at  The fee is $55 per paddler, per day ($110 for two days) regardless if you eat the provided meals, use the bus or enjoy these perks:

  1. A welcome kit containing: a2019 Chemung River Showjourn cotton bandana map of the Chemung River, a gift certificate for a 30-minute massage, River Friends window decal, River Friends kayak/canoe ID sticker, brochures and other written information about the river and community.

  2. Daily bus transportation -- provided by First Transit in Elmira -- to and from our starting and ending points. The shuttle is for vehicle drivers only, because seats are limited.

  3. A hot dinner, hot breakfast, bag lunches and beverages. Local spring water will be provided by Culligan Water in Elmira.

  4. Boat launch volunteers to help paddlers safely and easily enter and exit the river.

  5. Firefighters at each boat launch to provide safety and health care.

  6. A tour of the former Civil War prison camp at the Grove Street Boat Launch (75 yards away) and a presentation about John Jones, an escaped southern plantation slave who lived in Elmira and helped bury the Confederate soldiers who died in the prison camp.

  7. Live musical entertainment at the boat launches, a Saturday night Boy Scout maintained camp fire with s ‘mores, hot chocolate and river stories.

  8. Educational programs and talks by local elected officials and nature enthusiasts while on the river and at boat launch stops.

  9. Portable restrooms at all boat launches.

  10.  Chair massages by four licensed massage therapists at Grove Street Boat Launch on Saturday night.

  11.  Daily river safety talks and paddler Q&As.

  12.  The opportunity to learn how to safely use the portage around the Chase-Hibbard low-head dam in downtown Elmira.

  13.   An assist vehicle and volunteer, available via cell phone, to meet paddlers in an emergency or if a paddler has to leave the river. 

  14.  The chance to enjoy a fresh-air adventure and learn about and see all types of kayaks, canoes and paddlers. Share some river stories, lore and lies.

  15.   A visit to and a discussion about the Elmira Water Board drinking water intake at the bottom of the river.

  16.   Visit to Clinton Island and the osprey’s nest on the osprey pole.

  17.   Ice cream treats at the end of the paddle at Toll Bridge Boat Launch.

  18.   A few surprises, plenty of laughs, and you’ll have a greater understanding and respect for our natural resources.

Paddlers will have access to their vehicles Saturday night at the Grove Street Boat Launch. Participants can stay at the nearby Holiday Inn Riverview, 1 Holiday Plaza, E. Water St. Elmira (607-734-4211) or other hotels. Paddlers are responsible for arrangements and transportation to and from the hotels. If you leave the camp ground and are not back in time for the Sunday morning departure (9:45 a.m.) you will be left behind and your daily fee will not be refunded.

This is a rain or shine event. We will only cancel the trip if the river is too high, too fast or otherwise unsafe. In case of cancellation we will refund all registration fees. No smoking, no alcohol, no firearms and no pets on the Showjourn.


Local outfitters where you can rent a canoe or kayak:

  • STKT, rents kayaks and canoes, 607-220-3642 or

  • West Water Sports kayak and stand-up board rentals, Elmira, NY; (585)-490-4480,; or Facebook@westw2017 or

  • Endless Mountain Outfitters, Sugar Run, PA., (570) 746-9140,, rents and sells canoes and kayaks and leads river paddle tours


2019 Chemung River Showjourn Daily Schedule

Times may vary depending on weather and other unforeseen issues


Day 1, June 22: Conhocton Street Boat Launch, Corning, to Grove Street Boat Launch, Elmira: 16 river miles.


7 to 8:15 a.m.: Paddlers check-in with their boats and equipment at Conhocton Street Boat Launch in Corning, unload their boats and equipment, get instructions, hear welcoming remarks from elected officials, and receive welcome kits and Slowjourn identification wrist bands.


8:30 a.m.: Safety briefing, mandatory for all paddlers.


9 a.m.: Begin launching boats (20-minute process for all boats). We will stop and talk along the way about local river history, water cycle, environmental stewardship and other topics, as well as the wildlife and other sights we see.


Noon to 12:45 p.m. Lunch at Bottcher’s Landing Boat Launch in Big Flats, entertainment/speakers.


1p.m.: Begin launching boats (20 minute process).


4:15 p.m.:  Begin arriving at Grove Street Boat Launch, Elmira. Once everyone is safely off the river the shuttle bus will take paddlers back to Conhocton Street. Paddlers will retrieve their vehicles and drive them to Grove Street for the night. One-hour round trip.


6 p.m.: Dinner, free chair massages, entertainment.


7:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Evening campfire, program, entertainment, tour of nearby Civil War Prison Camp, tasty s ‘mores and plenty of river stories, lore and bald-face lies.


10:30 p.m.: Lights out, paddlers camp at the launch or drive their vehicles home or to local hotels.


Day 2, June 23, Grove Street Boat Launch, Elmira to Toll Bridge Boat Launch, Town of Ashland, eight river miles.


6 to 7 a.m.: Wake up, new paddlers and returning paddlers (slept elsewhere) return to launch.


7 to 7:45 a.m.: New paddlers for the day check-in and get instructions and welcome kit.


7 to 7:45 a.m.: Hot breakfast.


8 a.m.: Paddlers drive their vehicles to Toll Bridge Boat Launch. Shuttle bus departs for Toll Bridge Boat Launch to pick up and return paddlers to Grove Street, 40-minuteround trip.


9:15 a.m.: Safety briefing, mandatory for all paddlers.


9:45 a.m.: Launch boats into river from Grove Street Boat Launch.


10:15 a.m.: Portage around the Chase-Hibbard Dam in downtown Elmira, south side of river, 30- to 45-minute process. We will stop and talk along the way about local river history, water cycle, environmental stewardship, and other topics; as well as wildlife and other sights we see.


11:45 a.m.: Arrive at Dunn Field Boat Launch in Elmira for presentation on the osprey nesting pole, Dunn Field history and the nearby Lackawanna Rail Trail.


1 p.m.: Lunch (location along the river to be determined day of the paddle).


4 p.m.: Paddlers begin arriving at Toll Bridge Boat Launch, closing ceremony/speakers and ice cream treats. Paddlers load their boats onto their vehicles and depart for their homes.


For more information:

Heller Creek trash cleanup in Elmira

Need volunteers to help River Friends spring clean a small Elmira creek

Chemung River Friends is looking for volunteers to help remove litter and debris from Heller Creek near College Avenue on Elmira’s Northside from 9 a.m. to noon on April 13.


The narrow and shallow creek is polluted with bottles, tires, plastic jugs and bags and other litter that can be picked up by hand.


“We are going to help Mother Nature do her spring cleaning, and help protect our local water supply,” said River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “Although it only five-foot-wide and most people don’t know it exists, the creek is home to a beaver lodge, ducks, fish and other wildlife.”


The creek starts at a pond, filled by the watershed from the hills above the Elmira Correctional Facility clubhouse on North Hoffman Road. The creek runs under Hoffman Street and underground below Woodlawn Cemetery before it resurfaces near College Avenue, and empties into Eldridge Lake.


“The lake is the centerpiece of Eldridge Park and the site of annual youth fishing tournaments, boating, picnics and walks,” Pfiffer said. “It’s important to keep the small streams that feed into the lake clean and free of debris and brush. That improves water quality and, wildlife habitat and reduced the chances of flash flooding.”


The bush-lined creek is visible along College Ave. adjacent to Southern Tier Custom Fabricators, who asked River Friends to organize the cleanup. Employees from the company will help with the event.


Cleanup volunteers are invited to meet at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Southern Tier Custom Fabricators, 1322 College Ave. River Friends will provide instructions, supervision, gloves, garbage bags, cleanup tools, drinking water and a fun experience. Please register for the event on Eventbrite at the address below.


Directions from College Avenue: Turn on Lagonegro Drive, in the business park at the former Trinity Foundry site, across from Quick Stop Beverage.


Volunteers should wear old clothes that can get wet and dirty and rubber boots or hard-soled boots. Children, ages 8 years old and older are welcome if they are accompanied by an adult. No pets. No smoking. No alcohol. The cleanup will proceed in the rain. It will be cancelled of the creek is too high or there is a lightning storm.


“This is a great way to welcome spring and to improve our environment, community and our connection with Mother Nature,” Pfiffer said.


To register, go to:

2018 River Friends public eco-recreation and cleanup events

  Public education and outreach events.  We are done for the 2018 season, but look for these activities in 2019: 


2019 monthly Finger Lake House River Friends environmental education programs

Beer, porcupines, rattlesnakes and rain barrels at Finger Lakes House in 2019



You can see a live rattlesnake, a stuffed porcupine and a painted rain barrel while sipping tasty craft beers at this year’s monthly nature programs sponsored by Chemung River Friends and the Finger Lakes House in Elmira.


The monthly programs will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at 389 W. Water St. and are $15 at the door. No reservations are required. They include one free New York State craft beer or wine, snack foods and a chance to win a door prize. The fees helps River Friends continue to offer educational programs. The series takes holiday breaks in July and December.


“The Finger Lakes House is honored to support River Friends in their continuing education series,” said Bill Mott, co-owner of the Finger Lakes House. “The Chemung River is a valuable community resource that provides us with not only water, but beauty and recreation. Through River Friends’ efforts and our community support, we will ensure the Chemung River will be beautiful for many generations.”


One of the highlights of the series is the May 20 program on timber rattlesnakes that will feature a live rattlesnake demonstration by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife technician.  


“We want to correct the misconceptions and fears many people have about our amazing wildlife like rattlesnakes,” Pfiffer said. “We want the public to better understand and appreciate our wildlife, and do it in a fun venue with good beverages, food and like-minded friends. You support River Friends, a local business and the river. Not bad for $15.”


February 18: Go Nuts Learning About Gray and Red Squirrels

Whether they are raiding the bird feeder, transplanting tulip bulbs, making themselves at home in the attic or delighting you with their antics, gray squirrels inspire joy and angst. They are the second most watched wildlife in North America after birds. Learn how and why these animals are so smart, creative and relentless. Learn the differences between the grays and reds and how and why our trees depend on squirrels for their survival. Get tips on how to squirrel-proof your bird feeder.

Door prize: Donated squirrel-proof bird feeder. 


March 11: Don’t Get Your Quills Up, Porcupine!

Uncover the myths and unfounded fears of these tree-dwelling pin cushions. Discover why these slow waddling rodents fear little, chew rubber tires, make weird sounds and should never be harmed because they can save the lives of people lost in the woods.

Get answers to nature’s burning question: How do porcupines make love? Ouch!  A North American porcupine can have 30,000 or more quills, they are found on every continent except Antarctica and they are excellent climbers and gnawers. 

There will be a PowerPoint presentation and videos by River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: Growler of craft beer.


April 22 (Earth Day): Why You Should Hug a Tree.

We take trees for granted but they provide many benefits from making oxygen and providing wood to bearing fruit and limbs for tire swings and tree houses. Our lives depend on trees. Learn how you can help protect trees and use them to reduce flooding, erosion and global warming. Learn how to plant a tree in your yard or along a stream or river.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer and Paul Pietro, a New York Sate Nursery & Landscape Association professional and founding member of the Town of  Elmira Tree Board. Includes a tree planting demonstration.

Door prize: Potted tree to plant in your yard or along a stream or river.


May 20: Don’t get the shakes. It’s just a rattlesnake?

Learn how and why we are fortunate to have timber rattlesnake dens in our area. Discover the truth about these amazing reptiles, uncover their myths and gain a new understanding and respect. Learn how to be less fearful of these endangered creatures.

PowerPoint presentations by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer and state Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Technician, Madeline Wlasniekwski, who will display a live rattlesnake.

Door prize:  A free entry in the Finger Lakes House kayak package drawing.


June 10: Beer Barrels, Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens

Learn how and why rain barrels and rain gardens at your home or business can reduce flooding and erosion and save you money and help your plants and gardens.

See how to convert a 55-gallon plastic barrel into an easy-to-use-and-install rain barrel that collects rain from your roof.


Discover how a small rain garden can improve your landscaping and water runoff. Do it all while enjoying craft brews from local craft beer barrels.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: Rain barrel from Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District. (Additional barrels will be available for sale for $35 each).


July: No program.


August 12:  We’re Not Playing Opossum or is it Possum?

The oft-maligned marsupial has an image problem. Love ‘em or not, the opossum is often perceived as a giant, dirty, scavenging rat, rather than a cute creature of the wild. North America’s only marsupial has unique characteristics that might transform your aversion into affection. They’re smart, have a remarkable ability to find food and they kill cockroaches and rats. When threatened, opossums run, growl, belch, urinate and defecate. And when all else fails, they “play ‘possum" and act as if they are dead. It is an involuntary response (like fainting) rather than a conscious act. 

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: To be determined.


September 23: Leave it Beavers

Discover how and why beavers love to build dams and gnaw trees, car tires and axe handles. Learn about the value of beaver pelts in American history. Learn why beaver teeth have to gnaw and how they can cut down trees. Includes a large stuffed beaver.

PowerPoint presentations by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: A hand-made hiking stick made from a riverside sapling.


October 21:  How Rivers Improve our Lives and Communities

Rivers drain nearly 75 percent of the Earth’s land surface and carry water and nutrients around the earth. They play a vital part in the water cycle, acting as drainage channels for surface water. Learn why our lives depend on rivers and how they improve our economy, environment, community health and quality of life.

You will leave this presentation with more respect and a better understanding of how communities and civilizations originated and grew around waterways.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer

Door prize:  A 22-inch-square cotton bandana map of the Chemung River.


November 18: Where do All the Animals Go During Winter?

Aside from people, the creatures that occupy two-thirds of our nation’s land mass have just three choices when it comes to surviving the winter cold: resist, migrate or hibernate. Discover which animals stick it out, which ones go south and which ones hit the sack? The program will answer those questions and leave you amazed as you discover the adaptations and tools that animals use to stay warm, fed and asleep during the winter.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation by Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer.

Door prize: To be determined.


December: No program


For more information:


Guided Nature Stroller Walks

These short and easy walks are designed to introduce parents, grandparents and toddlers to area trails, parks, ponds, rivers, and streams where the public can hike and enjoy outdoor recreation and nature's beauty. Each walk includes an educational theme and snacks and water. 

Please dress for the weather-walks are cancelled only for thunder/lightning! 

The free walks are sponsored by the Chemung Valley Audubon Society. for more details about these walks, including directions to each site, please visit

    Guided paddle trips and hikes

Southern Tier Kayak Tours - done for the season.

Southern Tier Kayak Tours (STKT) provides kayaks, equipment and bus  transportation for most of our guided river paddles. During the 2-to-3-hour trips you will be joined by 15 to 20 paddlers of all abilities and experiences. We paddle on water that is relatively safe -- with ripples, not rapids. The experienced guides and r paddlers make the trips safe and fun (squirt guns are included).

FEE: River Friends pays $25 of the $50/paddler fee charged by STKT. You may bring your own canoe or kayak for a reduced fee. Contact STKT for more info and to register for the guided paddles: 607-220-3642 or

These tours are done for the season.  Check back next spring for another series!

 River, stream and trail cleanups

   More cleanups: Will be announced in 2019.

Upper Susquehanna Coalition

Welcome Partners River Trail Launch Sites Recreation Events Groups & Projects Susquehanna Watershed Paddling Guide

Chemung River Friends 111 N. Main St., Elmira, N.Y. 14901 (607) 846-2242 Facebook

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