Fall is a beautiful time to enjoy the Chemung River in Mark Twain Country. The trees are ablaze with colors reflecting off the water. The temperatures are comfortable. The mosquitoes and gnats are long gone. The crisp fragrances of autumn combine with the sights and sounds of wildlife to make for a gorgeous float and commune with nature.
 
The 45-mile Chemung River flows by farmlands, steep shale cliffs, forests, meadows and several towns and cities. The river is rich in history, passing by former Native American villages, a Civil War Prison Camp and the locations of some of area’s first settlers.
 
Mark Twain spent over 20 summers in Elmira writing his greatest novels. It’s a good bet that he visited the river and sought its inspiration as he wrote “Life on the Mississippi” and the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
 
The shallow Chemung River is easy to paddle – great for beginning or novice boaters. There are 10 public boat launches and plenty of beautiful places to come ashore to picnic, take nature photos or to relax in the grass in the warm sun and watch the river flow.
 
With so many boat launches you can paddle for few hours or all day.
 
And let’s not forget the health benefits. Paddling is a low-impact sport and the perfect activity to strengthen and define your upper body. Paddling a kayak burns about 342 calories per hour.
 
River side trails and levees make for great hiking and cycling along the river. Best of all, the river is free of charge, open 24/7 and you don’t need reservations.
 
For more information, including river maps and places to rent canoes or kayaks visit the Friends of the Chemung River Watershed website at www.chemungriverfriends.org.