Moss Island is one of New York State’s hidden treasures. It combines great scenery with outdoor recreation. Moss Island was declared a National Natural Landmark in May 1976.
The island is south of the town of Little Falls. It is 100 feet long and 625 feet wide with The Mohawk River at its north and New York State Barge Canal to the south. Lock #17 of the Erie Canal is one of the world’s tallest locks of its type at 40-foot high. It is the larges lock in the New York State Barge Canal System, with a guillotine gate on its eastern side.
The island was created when locks were built to allow boats to pass through the river section around the 40-foot waterfall. This section of the river descends 45 feet in less than a mile with small cascades. There are large scenic glacial potholes on the east side of the island.
Glacial striations are noticeable in some places. The cliffs are Precambrian granite basement composition like in the Adirondack Mountains. Manganese Oxide weathering rind are the black surface on the rock, but not the actual rock color.
Moss Island is popular for rock climbing, and fishing. It provides climbs for every skill level. The island’s trails are easy, perfect for even children. The climbs on the islands east side outcrop and west end provide the easiest climbs. There are also 3rd and 4th class descents.
The island has great nature scenery so don’t forget your Kodak camera. Be sure to bring a picnic basket with packed lunch. There are several picnicking spots on the island, and a table at the trails beginning.
Little Falls is halfway between Syracuse and Albany, 23 miles east of Utica. After driving the thruway I-90 drive 150 miles from Rochester to exit 29A. You may park under the Theodore S. Wind Bridge or nearby in the town to walk to the island.
Little Falls has a population of 5,188 combining small town charm with the conveniences of larger cities. Its name was based on river rapids and falls on the Mohawk River. Once you are in Little Falls you must visit Kristen’s Café on Main Street for their signature French Fries.
The village of Herkimer is 14 miles west of Little Falls. It was named after Palatine German immigrants the Herkimers who settled the area in 1723. Its location on the historic Erie Canal has a population of 7,498. It is a gateway into the Adirondack Mountains.
Eight miles northeast of Little Falls is the Village of Dolgeville. It was named after local industrialist Alfred Dolge. East Canada Creek travels through the village. The village is at the intersection of routes 29 and 169 with a population of 2,166. Rawlings has a factory in the village manufacturing baseball bats used by Major League Baseball and other wood products.
Whether hiking, rock climbing, nature photography or just drinking in the scenery Moss Island offers great experiences.