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Happy Valley and Oswego County at Upstate New York

4x4 travel overland travel camping outdoor adventure ATV UTV

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#1 biggman100

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 04:12 AM

Although it isn't a place for serious off-roading, some of the roads at Happy Valley can be a bit rough, especially in the early spring or late fall. Although 4 wheel drive isn't a necessity there, it is still a nice place to go and drive down some of the roads, check out the dam and the lake and maybe have a small picnic.

 

It is perfect for people who just want a place to go that isn't full of crowds, like malls and shopping centers. Happy Valley is located on route 104 outside Mexico, NY, which is north of Syracuse, NY and south of Watertown, NY, off of route 81. According to the DEC website, the exit is exit 34, off route 81.

 

The place is actually described as a protected state lands area, and there is a DEC office on the property. The property is about 9000 acres total, with roads, some old abandoned farm buildings, the lake, and a few campsites. They do allow overnight camping, but you have to reserve ahead of time. They don't allow alcohol on the site except by permit as far as I know.

 

ATV's and UTV's are allowed in the summer, and snowmobiles are allowed in the winter once the snow gets deep enough. Also, for you adventurous fisherman, just north of Happy Valley, in Pulaski, NY, is the Salmon

River that has salmon fishing in the late fall and steelhead from October to early spring. The NYS DEC website will have more information on when the season starts and ends for each type of fish.

 

I know, I sound like a tour guide for Oswego County, but I lived there for quite a few years and loved it there because there were so many things to do summer and winter. Along with touring Happy Valley and fishing, it isn't very far from Lake Ontario, and a couple hours south of the Thousand Islands. There is also dog sled racing, hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in the winter and ATV racing and trail riding in the summer, boating on Lake Ontario, and a bunch of historical areas for the history buffs—like Fort Ontario in Oswego, which has a very diverse history, or the lighthouses that are scattered up and down Lake Ontario.

 

Oswego, NY also has a major boating festival in the mid summer, called Harbor Fest, that lasts for an entire week, but you don't have to own a boat to be a part of it.  Harbor Fest isn't really an activity for kids, it's mostly to promote the boating and local alcohol-making establishments in the area.



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 04:29 PM

Actually, you would make an excellent travel journalist, biggman100!  You make Upstate New York very appealing and real to those of us from out of the area...While the West gets kudos for places like the Rubicon Trail, Moab, the vast deserts, tall mountain ranges and wild horses, what you describe is the essence of why we four-wheel and camp outdoors:  enjoying the woods, water recreation and family time—wherever Nature calls! 

 

Apparently, the call is clear from Upstate New York!  Wow, this is a great place for parents to share with their kids.  Actually, any outdoor enthusiast would enjoy traveling here, sounds like year round recreational opportunities!  I trust other members and guests at the forums will get the message:  Upstate New York has great outdoor offerings!

 

We have Jeep 4x4 friends at the White Plains/Sommers Area who introduced us to Cold Springs, the Hudson River and the many wooded and stream-fed areas within a stone's throw from New York City.  The Fall is incredibly colorful, drawing canoeists, fly fishers and those who want to see firsthand what inspired people like Thoreau (Walden Pond at Massachusetts)...For fishing and outdoor recreation, the Oswego County that you describe sounds terrific!

 

Thanks for sharing!  Trust others will add to your travelogue and detailed account of the regional activities...

 

Moses



#3 biggman100

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 07:21 PM

Thank you, Moses. Now if only i could afford to travel a bit more, but things like work, and having school age children, sometimes get in the way of doing much traveling.



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 10:28 PM

Understood...Glad we're sharing ideas about a wide range of outdoor outlets...I just posted about snowshoeing, a reply to your topic on dog sled activities in the winter.  When we're resourceful, year round outdoor fun can even be affordable!

 

Moses



#5 biggman100

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:27 AM

My wife says with all the things we already do just in Northern Pa, and central to northern NY, we don't need to travel. We just got back from an awesome, family fun filled week in the northern Adirondacks, where there was no cell service, no TV, no computers, and at least 15 lakes and 20 small mountains to kayak and canoe on, and take nature walks and long hikes up the mountains.



#6 biggman100

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 11:38 PM

One thing i keep meaning to add to this, is about a couple places in the city of Oswego. One, which has a diverse and somewhat tragic history, is Fort Ontario. During the French-Indian war, it was used as a weapons and ammunition depot and a lookout for invading troops. Another bit of history is somewhat tragic, in that it helped with the mass panic against Japanese- Americans in WWII. Some people may know this, but some probably don't. During WWII, after the Japanese attacked pearl harbor, the U.S. decided it would be a good idea to lock up Japanese citizens in this country. Fort Ontario was one of those places. I read a book, written by a local author, that was written right after WWII, that talked about how the locals in Oswego would pass food and other stuff through the fence to the people that were kept there. The fort is kind of tucked away, so it is actually best to ask for directions to it.

 

Another thing of interest, is the various lighthouses along the shore of Lake Ontario. One, situated out in the lake, along the breakwater wall, right near downtown Oswego, has been there since the late 1800s.

 

For the adventurous folks, there is the Silas Towne sight. It is hidden in the woods behind an old stone house and a partially destroyed stone foundation. The locals take delight in messing with people and steering them in the wrong direction, though, when they ask where it is, so be careful who you ask. It is located right across from the Mexico point pier, and straight down the road the Mexico point boat yard and marina are on. For those who don't know, Silas Towne was a Revolutionary War spy who hid in the woods and reported conversations he heard from invading troops coming into the Oswego area from Canada. His grave is at the site where he had overheard the invading army's plans and alerted the local cavalry.

 

And the last thing i want to mention is the Naval Historic Dock, right on Lake Ontario. They have a couple of U.S. Navy vessels usually stationed there as well as a couple other historic boats that were used on the lake, and you can tour these vessels, at least in the summer.



#7 Moses Ludel

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 10:15 AM

Fantastic accounts, biggman100!  You make this a "must do" item for anyone traveling in the area...Thanks much for sharing Upstate NY, which sounds like an undiscovered destination treasure!

 

For anyone traveling the Mojave Desert and Highway 395 between Lone Pine and Bishop, CA, take the time to visit the National Park Service site at Manzanar.  Manzanar was a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII, and it was depicted in an Ansel Adams photo series.  He also made towering Mount Whitney, rising west above the camp, a popular photographic subject.  We have stopped at Manzanar on many trips by the facility and taken time to walk the grounds, visiting the Soul Consoling Tower, a Buddhist monument at the west end.  The Park Service has done a great job of preserving the remains of the camp and presenting this piece of history.

 

President Reagan signed a reparations act in 1988 to repay the surviving 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation citizens affected by the internment.  Here is more information, including links to the National Parks Service site.  The facility at Manzanar has an insightful museum and theater, a great means for educating families, interested citizens and tourists. 





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