Moose Fest: The Basics


Every year, on the second weekend of October the northeast whitewater community descends upon the Moose River. Nestled in the western edge of the great Adirondack Park, the Moose River is a classic that provides whitewater for numerous skill levels, and amazing scenery.

This year, the festival takes place on the weekend of October 13-15, with most paddlers arriving Friday evening and hitting the town in Old Forge. With Old Man Winter knocking at the doorstep, most experienced festival-goers will cram a few friends into a hotel room, but camping is available at the Fowlerville put in, or closer to the party in Old Forge.

Geoff Calhoun paddles Crystal Rapid on the Bottom Moose. Photo: Justin Beckwith

Following an early morning at your diner of choice, it’s time to decide what to paddle. The Middle Moose, bursting with fall foliage, is a heavy beginner trip that’s sure to please. As you near the Lower Moose, things start to pick up. Long class 2-3 stretches are punctuated by a handful of larger rapids guaranteed to get the adrenaline flowing. Don’t worry, there are paths to scout and portage. This section is an excellent introduction to creek boating, but don’t spent too much time scouting or it will be a long day.

The real show happens on the Bottom Moose. This classic run entices paddlers to make annual pilgrimages for big slides, pushy waterfalls, and beautiful scenery. Launch through the trees into the river off the on ramp and drop into the impressive—and intimidating—Fowlerville Falls. The Bottom Moose waterfalls may seem big, but they end in large flat pools, making it an excellent training ground, and a social experience. Don’t be surprised if you see big-name paddlers sharing eddies with paddlers who are just breaking into Class 4-5.

Agers Falls marks the beginning of the Bottom Bottom section of the Moose. This section starts with a 16-foot auto-boof and continues to grow more technical down to the largest rapid, Crystal. Whether you choose to run it, or join the crowd cheering paddlers on, Crystal is absolutely beautiful. In typical Moose River fashion Crystal offers three distinctly different lines. If you aren’t feeling up to the falling staircase called Alpine Line, there is the multi-stage triple boof Main Line and a few sneak options. Not done? Go check out Magilla and her little sister Matilda at the takeout.

Saturday is the main event with the final King of New York Race taking place from Agers Falls to the takeout, and the after party at Mountainman Outdoor Company in Old Forge. Pat Keller will be looking to sweep the series with another win in this boater cross style race, but the competition is going to be stiff. Racers will receive a race kit from NRS, and the top female paddler of the race will be winning a NRS Expedition Driduffel Dry Bag. Think what you have it takes? Better dust off your long boat!

Did I mention it’s usually snowing? Be prepared! I’ll be packing my Crux Drysuit and H2Core thermal layers. Join me Saturday evening back at Mountainman for a beautiful sunset, bonfire, music, vendors, and King of New York Awards Ceremony.

KONY top-runner, Pat Keller, won the Raquette and Eagle races by four-tenths of a second. Photo: Kenny Unser

Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Alex Barham is a NRS ambassador who spends his time paddling in upstate New York when he isn’t at his day job as an environmental scientist.