Enjoy Onondaga Creek


Onondaga Creek is the main tributary to Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, New York. It begins 26 miles to Syracuse’s south in Tully, NY and runs northward through the Onondaga Nation, Syracuse’s Valley and Southside neighborhoods, downtown’s Armory Square and Franklin Square districts, and passing below the old bridge that once carried the Erie Canal before ultimately ending at Onondaga Lake.

On this page:

Canoe or Kayak

Onondaga creek offers interesting canoeing and kayaking through Syracuse neighborhoods and the heart of downtown, combining a chance to enjoy local wildlife in a natural setting with historic tunnels and a unique view of downtown.

The most common trips begin at Kelley Brother’s Park on Dorwin Ave, and go through downtown to end at Ollie’s Point in Franklin Square, passing underneath 33 different bridges along the way. At Ollie’s Point you’ll find a well-worn pathway between the Creekwalk and a flat section of shoreline where the creek is naturally shallow. This take-out spot provides both an easy exit from your canoe or kayak back to land, and easy access for vehicles to pick up boats.

The City of Syracuse is additionally working on creek access at Seneca Turnpike via Meachem Park. More information about the creek access project can be found on the city’s website.

Resources for Canoeing or Kayaking

The following resources are also helpful for monitoring creek flow, especially around times of significant rainfall:

Dorwin Avenue Data
Spencer Street Data

We’ve also assembled this information into a map of key creek reference points [PNG] for a trip from Dorwin Ave to Ollie’s Point in Franklin Square, as well as other useful paddling information [PNG] to help plan your journey. For a waterproof, printed copy of our guide, just ask! If you’re specifically looking to take a list of the bridges you’ll pass beneath with you on your trip, we’ve created a printable cheat-sheet of bridges by street name [PDF].

Boat safety on Onondaga Creek

Previewing a Creek Trip

Spoiler Alert: if you’d like a sneak-peek of the creek prior to grabbing a paddle and life-jacket (or you’d like to see the creek but are more of a land person), check out our 2018 trip down the creek:

Walk, Run, Roll, or Sit

As of 2020, 4.8 miles of paved Creekwalk trail stretch from Kirk Park through downtown Syracuse to Onondaga Lake, providing opportunity to see and enjoy the creek from the shore or any of the numerous benches along the pathway.

Image: creek at Franklin Square