On the Old No. 8 Railroad Bed, Black River to Watertown and vice versa
Info: Easy walking, easy biking, probably the most popular trail outside of Thompson Park. A few places have some cliffs and drop-offs, the Black River can be very strong at certain times of the year. Black-top surface on main trail, sometimes plowed during the winter. Picnic area, mileage markers, canoe access.
An extension was finished in 2020 that connects the Black River Trail to Waterworks Park.
A worker who was helping to build the Black River Trail died while creating it.
Directions: Take Route 3 (Eastern Boulevard) out of the city in the direction going toward Carthage/Village of Black River. A little way past the corner of Route 3 and Route 342 there is a bridge and a dam. Just past the bridge is a small dirt road on the right and parking lot, a short distance down the trail is a picnic area created by National Grid. This goes all the way to an outlet on the Ridge Road, another parking lot and the new extension.
To enter from the Ridge Road end get on Eastern Boulevard [Route 3] in the city heading toward Black River/Carthage. Take the Ridge Road. Pass by two cemeteries, and right before the hill where there are guard rails, is a parking lot on the right and the trail on the left.
Unofficially and much less-known and less-traveled – the trail also leads in the other direction in Black River, it is not accessible from the above trail – this is a harder, rougher trail of raw dirt and some gravel and sand, and not usually used by the public, and usually quite muddy on the Black River end. To get to the other trail you must continue on Route 3 past the gas station. Just past that, down the hill a little way and across from some houses, is the continuation of the trail and the former railroad bed. You can also access by going to the end of East Remington Street in Black River, look for the trail past the end of it. This trail leads out to Felts Mills and then Great Bend in this direction and goes very near the river in many places, as well as passing the dam. There are a few other trails leading off from this one, including some going toward Fort Drum up near Felts Mills (this is near a sand hill on the left, go through that and there are a number of trails in that direction).
Get Google Map Directions here or use map below.
Coordinates/Waypoint(s): N 44°00.189, W 75°48.297 – Parking lot/trail start at Black River end. N 43°58.626 W 75°51.5 – Parking lot/trail start at Watertown end on Ridge Road.
Trail Distance: The trail from Black River to Watertown is 3.3 miles, a new extension was about a mile long – total = 4.3. The newest extension adds another .45 of a mile or so, and adds direct access to the trails of Waterworks Park bringing the approximate total length to around 5.5 miles.
The rest of the old railroad bed from Black River to Felts Mills is unofficial and possibly partly closed, this is dirt and mud. But from Felts Mills to Great Bend is an open trail on the old railroad bed.
Date/Time Open: Dawn to dusk.
Mountain Biking Allowed: Yes. Easy.
Regular Biking Allowed: Easy.
Hiking/Walking Allowed: Yes.
Cross-Country Skiing: Yes.
Pets Allowed: Yes
Built on Former Railroad Bed: Yes, most of it. The Black River end of the paved trail to Watertown was originally a road for a distance until it ‘connects’ to the former railroad trail (you will notice this section is winding, once it connects to the railroad trail section it is straight to Watertown)
Trail Map: (see dashed line originating from the trailhead symbol)
View from Black River Trailhead:
View from Watertown Trailhead:
Special Instructions: Close to the river in some places, access to the river in others near rapid waters so watch for fast moving water.
For More Information: NY State Parks.