Lock 32 Whitewater Park

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: Southeast of Rochester on the Erie Canal, west of the Village of PittsfordTown of PittsfordMonroe County, New York.

Address: 2797 Clover St, Pittsford, NY 14534

Maps: Google Map, Bing Maps, Multi-map (topo)Interactive map.

GPS: Lock 32 White Water Falls: (N 43.09115 / W 77.54691)
Parking area: (N 43.09071 / W 77.54774)
Canal Lock 32: (N 43.09108 / W 77.54427)

Directions: From Rochester, take 490 east to Monroe Ave, Pittsford. Turn south on Clover St. Follow it south for just over a mile. Look for the entrance to the Canal Park on the right. Cross over the bridge and make the second right where a green sign marks “2797 Clover St.”

Or use Google Directions.

Parking: Park in the lot at the end of the unmarked road, before the gated business.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Note
Access to Lock 32 Whitewater Park is for paid Genesee Waterways Center members and staff during designated hours. Lock 32 State Canal Park, on the northern end of the canal, is open to the public, but does not provide access to view the falls.

Latest Pittsford, New York, weather conditions and forecast

Number of falls:  One man-made waterfall.

Size/Types: This 25 ft high spillway has concrete blocks along its path to stir up the water. The water pours from the canal above, under a bridge at the top of the falls, and into the spillway below. Several rapids spot the whitewater course along the park.

Best time to visit: Spring through early fall, when the canal has water (it is drained for winter). The annual Lockapalooza event is great for catching whitewater action.

Flow: It is generally regulated by canal levels. Consistent when the canal is full.

Waterway: The Erie Canal is a man-made body of water that crosses the state east-west. At Lock 32, this 600 foot long spillway (designed to help regulate water levels in the canal) has been converted into a facility for whitewater kayaking. The spillway waters rejoin the canal just east, past Clover St.

Time: About 1 minute to see the falls. A few more minutes to check out the rest of the course. White water classes and event times vary.

Seasons/Hours: When the canal has water. The park is open to members Monday to Friday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Saturday & Sunday 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Admission: This park is Members Only. Membership is $50/year for students, $100/year for adults. A day pass is available for non-members for $15. Members may take up to two guests. Check the Genesee Waterways Center website for more information on membership and access.

Handicap accessibility: None.

Pets: Unknown.

Swimming: Not allowed.

Accommodations: White water course, kayaking lessons, special events, equipment rentals. Across the canal is the Lock 32 Canal State Park and Erie Canal Heritage Trail.

Contact Information

Description

AKA: White Water Falls; Lock 32 Falls

What a wonderful idea, to take New York’s underutilized (and in some places, crumbling) canal system, and build an existing lock spillway (designed to remove excess water used when locks are emptied) into a whitewater kayaking course like no other. This was the vision of Rick Williams of Brighton, who helped transform this Department of Transportation afterthought into a wonderful whitewater playground for training, events, and overall, fun.

The 600 ft course begins at a launch platform adjacent to a large man-made cascade. Topped with a blue and yellow-painted bridge, the waterfall is made out of cement, and has aggregate stones jutting out from its face, making the falls frothy and loud. It drops a total of 25 ft, from the height of the Lock (and canal) it drains. It’s a wonderful backdrop to the beautifully designed course downstream. Wave holes, pools, boils and a lot of frothy action await paddlers along the way; all in a controlled and safe environment operated by the Genesee Waterways Center. A cleared section and paved path along the south of the waterway allow for friends, family, coaches, press and enthusiasts to watch and cheer on the paddlers.

Admission to the park is granted (during operating hours) for members of the Genesee Waterways Center. Membership fees may not be justified for a photo or two of the falls, but if you are at all interested in learning (flat or white water) kayaking, membership is well worth it. Members may also bring up to two guests to check out the park. Lockapolooza is an annual weekend paddling event filled with activities, including races, free instruction, and freestyle competitions. It’s the perfect time to visit, free of charge, to get some action shots of paddlers tackling the course.

Since its opening it has attracted world-wide attention and the admiration of paddlers from all walks of life. And it should. It is a beautiful park, filled with the sounds of rushing water, and the history of the New York State Canal system.

Lock 32 Whitewater Park

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Hiking / Walking Trails

To see the spillway

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: About 300 feet from the parking area to see the falls.

Markings: Rules/information sign at the trail-head. Paved trail.

Description: From the parking area, follow the paved trail into the brush. It will open up as it approaches the spillway. Across from here is where kayaks enter the course. Shortly after is the falls. You can continue on the trail to see the rest of the course. Turn around and go back after about 900 ft.

White Water Park and Lock 32 State Canal Park Interactive Map

Drag the map or click the arrows to move around and use the +/- to zoom in or out. Click on the icons for more information. This map is not accurate. Caution and common sense should be used when hiking.

View Lock 32 Whitewater Park in a larger map

History

Rick Williams, of Brighton, was riding along the canal bike path one day in 1996 and took notice of the Lock 32 spillway, which reminded him of a whitewater course. His vision, to clear and reshape the spillway into a suitable training course. Working with the Canal Corporation and the State Department of Transportation, what began as a vision, continued with a $25 permit, and progressed through a lot of donations and elbow-grease, and evolved into a beautiful park with a professional organization overseeing its operation and safety. Construction wrapped up in November of 1999 and its first full season in 200 was an astounding success.

Interesting Stuff

Lock 32 State Canal Park

The south side of the lock is the Whitewater Park, which is open to members only. The north side is a small state-run park, which centers around the operation of the lock. The park is a wonderful place to sit for a picnic, launch a canoe, jog, hop onto the Erie Canal Heritage Trail, or check out the lock operation. A raised viewing platform gives visitors excellent views of boats raised by the lock waters. A large pond above the lock was once used as a canal-side port and turning point during the system’s heyday. It’s now empty.

Photography Tips

Distance

  • You can’t get close to these falls, so bring a lens with enough reach.

Know any members?

  • Without paying the day visitor fee, you can come for free as a guest of a member.

Flags

  • The course flags may seem like they get in the way of a beautiful waterfall picture, but don’t think that way. Use them in your composition to show depth, and direction.

Silky water effect

  • To get that smooth cotton-candy look to the falls, you need to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter on your lens. The ND filter will block some of the light from entering the lens without altering the color, and thus allow your shutter to stay open longer. This blurs the water and creates a soft white gloss to the foamy areas of the falls. You can pick up a Neutral Density (ND) filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • Cut down on reflections and help reduce the light entering the lens by utilizing a Circular Polarizer filter. Most of the waterfall scenes shown on this website are captured with this type of filter. It reduces glare and helps us obtain more even exposures.You can pick up a Circular Polarizer filter relatively cheap on Amazon.
  • When shooting slow shutter speeds a sturdy Tripod is a must. Don’t settle for a cheap tripod that wobbles in the wind or can be vibrated by water currents. Amazon has a nice selection of quality Tripods.

Overcast skies

  • Daylight will cast uneven shadows through the canopy and cause sunspots in your shots. It is best to wait for an overcast sky for this one.

More tips

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