Circumnavigating Ellison Park
Dave and Helen Damouth
The wilderness archives contain several notes describing Irondequoit Creek, from the head of navigation above Panorama Plaza down to Irondequoit Bay as a pleasant afternoon's paddle. But I don't remember anyone mentioning that Ellison Park is actually an island, and that the middle part of this trip can actually be done as a loop.
Just north of Blossom Road, the creek splits. The main creek turns west for quite a distance. A small branch continues north, rejoining the main stream about halfway between Old Browncroft and Empire Blvd. I've heard rumors that this is a man-made shortcut originally dug to increase the drop through the mill race of the Daisy Flour Mill.
Last weekend I paddled up from the Bay, stayed in the obvious eastern-most channel through the swamp, and found myself in the narrow tributary. It was paddleable (barely) in my solo canoe all the way upstream to the main creek, with the exception of the bridge at the junction, which is built over culverts through which I couldn't paddle. A 20-foot portage around the bridge put me in the main creek, at which point I headed downstream back to my starting point. This trip might get a little too shallow later in the season as the water level drops.
Along the way, I saw two beaver, several great blue heron, uncountable large carp rolling among the cattails in the swamp, a bunch of ducks, several pair of canada geese, and a deer who stood a few feet back in the woods and watched me go by. In the center of the swamp is a large man-made nesting platform with a huge nest on it - species unknown.
A small canoe, drifting downstream with the current, is surprisingly unthreatening to the wildlife. I almost ran over a beaver before it noticed me and dove with a loud tail-slap warning.