Local Parks

The Whetstone area has been a scenic recreation area since the late 1800’s. Whetstone Gulf State Park, located just outside the town of Lowville, is a beautiful campground and recreation area. The park was initially opened to the public in May of 1931. It was built in and around a three-mile long gorge, cut in the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. The gorge was formed by a crack in the layers of shale rock; erosion has played only a small part in its formation. The gorge is one of the most spectacular scenic vistas east of the Rocky Mountains and was the primary reason for the park’s location.

Whetstone Gulf State Park has over 62 spacious, wooded campsites, a scenic picnic area along the Whetstone Creek, a man-made swimming area with water supplied by the Whetstone Creek, and great hiking trails.

The most spectacular trail is the gorge trail; this 10-mile trail is treacherous in places. At some points, the banks of the gorge are 200 to 300 feet high; so do not forget your camera! You will want to capture each breathtaking view as you wind your way around the edge of the gorge. With Whetstone Creek below, natural flowing waterfalls are abundant.

The park also has a 500-acre reservoir above the gorge that was developed for flood control and to provide recreational fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Fishing is excellent, as the reservoir is stocked with tiger muskies and large mouth bass. Whetstone Gulf State Park is a popular destination for all seasons. Camping, picnicking, hiking, and swimming are all popular in the summer and fall.

The park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  For more information contact Whetstone Gulf State Park at 315-376-6630.

This area has been recognized by generations of visitors for its natural beauty and vast water power. Kayakers shoot the falls, white water rafters enjoy rafting this Lewis County river. There is a picnic area, footpaths for hiking, and a boat launch. Located on this state historic site is the cemetery of the Ager family, who built and operated a paper mill and a saw mill at this location in the late 1800’s.

Tucked away from the road amongst the trees, Whittaker Park, located on Whittaker Road in Martinsburg, is ideal for picnicking or holding an outdoor event at the park pavilion. With the roaring brook flowing along the edge of the park, swimming and hiking are also popular activities. Whittaker Park also has a playground, making it a great place for children. Call (315) 376-7602 for information.

The 339-acre Effley Falls Reservoir is the first reservoir formed by the Beaver River after it leaves the Adirondack Park. Averaging 17 feet deep, its maximum depth is 31 feet. Smallmouth bass, splake, yellow perch, tiger muskie, chain pickerel, norlunge, rock bass, and bullhead are plentiful, making this a popular fishing destination. The picnic area is available for public use.

Singing Waters is one of Lewis County’s parks, located in a county reforestation area. There are two picnic areas that can accommodate up to 130 picnickers, and overnight camping is permitted.

Singing Waters is located on a 105-acre tract reforested about 68 years ago with white pine. The steep eroded south slopes were replanted with red pine in 1962.

Sixty acres of white pine plantations on top of the hill were thinned and pruned during 1969, and about one and a half miles of access roads and fire trails were cleared.

Bristly locust shrubs provided by the Soil Conservation Service were planted in 1969 between the road and this valuable trout stream. These shrubs prevent pollution through erosion and siltation. In 1982 and 1983, 50 cords  of firewood were removed from the top of the hill, and additional access roads were cleared and brushed out.

The picnic area was planned in 1956 and the first county picnic was held here by the Board of Supervisors on July 5, 1957. In 1958, the upper area and bridge were developed. On July 16, 1965, a dedication ceremony was held to unveil the bronze marker in memory of Theodore Woolschlager, the first Lewis County forester, who was responsible for planning this picnic area.  The upper bridge was replaced in 1982. The accommodations today are adequate for some 100-130 picnickers at one time. Fish Creek runs through the picnic area, making the area very scenic.

The Demonstration Area Nature Trail is located on 98 acres at the former Lowville Tree Nursery. This Nursery was in operation from approximately 1923 to 1971, when the last seedlings were shipped out.

Many remnants of the nursery are still visible, including: The Superintendent’s Home (now the NYS DEC Region 6 Sub-Office), The Bunkhouse where temporary Nursery workers slept, The Refrigeration Building where seedlings were kept cool before shipping, The Pump House (located across NYS 812) where water for irrigation was pumped up from the Black River, The Packing Shed (now the auto and maintenance shop), and The Nursery Office Building (now the Operations Office).

After the Nursery stopped production, trees were planted here for demonstration purposes. This work started in the spring of 1974. Trees were planted in blocks in order to compare the differences among species, origins, and management practices.

Wildlife abounds in this area. One may see white tail deer, great blue heron, woodchuck, cottontail rabbit or a bluebird (the NY state bird) while hiking or cross-country skiing through the area.

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