Attention paddlers: You need to visit the Finger Lakes Museum

By Jim Pfiffer, Chemung River Friends Volunteer.

If you like to kayak or canoe alone or with a group and learn about nature and enjoy the beauty and wildlife that inhabits a creek, wetland and lake, then the Finger Lakes Museum in Branchport needs to be at the top of your summer to-do list.

I recently visited the 29-acre facility, on the north end of Keuka Lake, and was amazed at all it offers for outdoor recreation, education and an adventurous visit with Mother Nature.

The public can use the nature center boat launch for free from dawn to dusk. Kayak programs are held on most Saturdays. Visit the group’s website for details.  https://www.fingerlakesmuseum.org/programs-events/.

The creek is narrow, slow moving and has steep banks. It’s an easy paddle for a beginner as you slowly float along exploring the meandering channels cut through the 16-acre cattail marsh that takes you out into the lake.

When you’re done paddling grab your fishing pole and fish at one of the fishing access sites. Or you can hike the mowed grass trails through a wooded area along the creek. Informational kiosks along the trail educate you about nature, invasive species and the outdoors.

It easy to access the creek and paddle through the marsh. I saw red-winged blackbirds, waterfowl, beaver lodges, a beaver dam and softshell turtles, as large as dinner plates, sunning on logs — all within a half-mile mile of the dock. Bald eagles and ospreys are regular visitors.

The facility has plenty of kayaks and canoes, life vests and paddles to choose from, for programs. They complex doesn’t rent out boats to the public. There is a unique floating dock that lets you enter your boat on the dock and slide down a short chute into the creek. On your return trip, you can paddle you boat, back up onto the dock, get out and never get your feet wet. But it takes some strength.

Don’t know how to kayak or have little experience? Sign up for one of the beginners/intermediate kayak classes.

The staff and volunteers are friendly, knowledgeable and safe and fun paddling partners.

Below are a few of the scheduled paddle trips for this summer:  

  • June 5, from 6-9 p.m., a guided evening paddle that ends with refreshments by a bonfire.
  • June 12, from 9 a.m. – noon, beginner and intermediate kayak lessons.
  • June 19, from 10 a.m. – noon, community paddle.
  • June 22, from 6-9 p.m., solstice moon paddle.
  • June 26, from 9 a.m. – noon, beginner and intermediate kayak lessons.
  • July 3, from 9 a.m. – noon, beginner and intermediate kayak lessons.
  • July 8-10, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  kayak instructor training course by the American Canoe Association.
  • July 17, from 10 a.m. to noon, community paddle.
  • July 23, from 6-9 p.m., evening paddle.

Contact information and address: 3369 Guyanoga Road, Branchport, 315-595-2200 and communications@fingerlakesmuseum.org.

Hope to see you there.

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