5 Places To Take Up Paddling Around the Capital Region This Spring

Now that daylight savings time is in effect, it will only be a matter of time when the weather begins to warm up and outdoor adventures resume. And if you are like me, you are excited to be outside again and are even considering taking up a new activity to fully appreciate being in nature (while getting a full-body workout and a big dose of Vitamin D) as the sun sticks around a little longer.

Have you considered paddling yet?

Maybe you have considered it but have been putting it off for a while now, or are an avid paddler but new to the area and don’t know where to go. Whatever your reason is, don’t let excuses get the best of you and commit to making this spring the time you take up this sport. Here are 5 places in and around the Capital Region that will help you get into it:

Paddling Basics at Six-Mile Waterworks

Never paddled before? Head over to LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School and sign up for one of the paddling lessons they offer. They teach both standup paddleboarding and kayaking and both take place at Six-Mile Waterworks, a small lake in Guilderland, NY, perfect for beginner paddling because the water is very flat. Cost is $25/pp for a 2-hour lesson which includes your paddling equipment– a personal floatation device (PFD), a paddle, and an LL Bean-approved paddleboard (with leash) or kayak.

The lesson typically starts on land where you learn the basics of paddling–getting to know your equipment, properly holding and handling your paddle, getting in and out of your paddleboard or kayak, and the importance of safety. Once you cover the basics, you get in the water and practice what you’ve learned on land, including safe methods of getting back on your paddleboard or kayak should you ever fall off it.

This is where I learned to paddleboard and kayak. The lessons are totally worth it.

After taking a lesson (or few), you’ll gain the confidence you need to go on your own paddling adventure. Or at least enough to keep up with your paddling friends. For more information or to sign up for lessons, check out www.LLBean.com/ODS.

Leisure Standup Paddle on Lake George


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Once you gain the confidence, make a trip up to Cleverdale, NY, and rent a standup paddleboard at Patty’s Watersports to take a leisure tour along the coast of the Southeastern part of Lake George. Prior to launching off the pier, the staff (including the owner Patty herself who, by the way, is an ACA Level 2 SUP instructor if you need additional lessons) will provide you safety tips and guidance as to where to go for the most relaxing experience.

If you’re lucky like I was, Patty will give you a guided tour and share with you her paddling adventures on Lake George and  everything she knows about what makes Lake George and its habitat so beautiful. About 44 square miles in size (or 28,200 in acres), Lake George is the biggest body of water that is quickest to access in the Capital Region so many watersports take place here. This means having to share with other thalassophiles so be wary of boat traffic.

After your paddle tour, ask Patty or her staff if they have a Sunset SUP Yoga class taking place that evening– a cherry on top of your paddling adventure! If not, be sure to come back on a day that it is scheduled to happen to see a tranquil view of this popular summer spot you never expected to see. For more information or to reserve your equipment, go to www.PattysWatersports.com.

Urban Kayaking on the Mohawk River


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A leisure paddle on a river more your thing? Head over to Down By The River Kayak Rentals in Amsterdam, NY, for a guided kayak tour of the Mohawk River. Why? You can view Amsterdam a whole new way. Owner and Chief Paddling Officer Audrey Egelston explains, “Paddlers learn about the past, present, and future of the City of Amsterdam. We paddle under the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, which is a gorgeous park completed in 2016. The MVGO was built over the Mohawk River and connects the south side of the city with Riverlink Park to the north.”

And what makes a leisure paddle tour with Down By The River so worth the try? Audrey continues, “Kayaking in Amsterdam is a unique experience because you are paddling through the heart of the city but also connecting with nature. Different species of birds join the tours (I don’t charge them). I also host different kayaking events through the summer, my most popular being guided trips through the Erie Canal locks.”

For only $20/per person, your tour includes gear (kayak, paddle, and life jacket) and lasts about 1.5-2 hours long. If you have your own kayak, you can tag along at no cost. Beginner paddlers are encouraged to join! For more information or to book your tour with Audrey, visit www.DownByTheRiverKayakRentals.com.

Day Tours and Multi-Day Excursions of the Hudson River


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How about day paddle tours? Take a 2-hour drive down to Hudson River Expeditions and explore the Hudson Highlands with expert paddlers trained to safely guide you on the Hudson River. With two locations–Cold Spring and Peekskill–you have a variety of tours to choose from which can range from 2-4 hours long ($65-$130/per person), depending on the type of adventure you choose. They also offer multi-day excursions. Cost of tours include tour guide, equipment (kayak, paddle, PFD), water and snacks–but not gratuity so make sure you tip your tour guide!

Don’t know which tour to sign up for? One of its kayak guides (and Girlnetic pioneer) Reyna Texler suggests the Destination Waterfall Tour. “Hudson River Expeditions offers a wide range of tours throughout the majestic Hudson Highlands to include both novice paddlers and experienced ones, but our Destination Waterfall Tour is one of our most popular day tours. Guests enjoy a relaxing journey through the protected waters of Constitution Marsh as we guide you to a beautiful waterfall destination.”

Whitewater Paddling on the Hudson Gorge


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Prefer a little adrenaline rush? Look no further than a guided whitewater rafting trip on the Hudson Gorge. There are many providers in the Adirondacks, but my friends and I opted to go with Adventure Sports Rafting who definitely didn’t disappoint. For $85/per person, you are provided transportation to and from your launch and landing spots, all the necessary safety and paddling equipment (helmet, life-jacket, paddle, and Avon self-bailing raft), lunch (snack, sandwich, beverage), a photographer to take action shots fo your trip (which you can purchase afterwards), and a New York State-licensed whitewater rafting guide who is certain to show you a good time.

The trip starts at nine in the morning at the Adventure Sports Rafting HQ in Indian Lake, NY, where you meet your tour guide who fits you in your gear, go over paddling instructions, rules and safety, and get you psyched for what will be one of the most memorable times of your life. Afterwards, you are hauled in a polychromatic school bus to your launching point where you begin your thrilling adventure, paddling down the Hudson River and on some of the best whitewater rapids (which can get as strong as a Class IV!!) east of the Rocky Mountains for the next 6-7 hours.

And you don’t just get to paddle. Each experience is different and depends on your tour guide, but during our trip, we jumped off cliffs, rode the raft like a bull, raced with other rafters, all while indulging our senses as we make our way through the scenic Adirondacks on a raft. I mean, what better way to spend a spring day with your friends? Rafting season begins April 1st–book your trip today at www.AdventureSportsRafting.com.

Photo: Stephanie Dobiecki