Looking for the best places for kayaking in NYC or New York? If yes, this post has got your back covered. Spanning right from the great Atlantic ocean to the Great lakes, New York is one of the most beautiful places to kayak at. New York is full of gems with rugged mountains, an eye-captivating coastline, winding rivers, sparkling lakes, and much more.
As one of the most popular states of the United States, New York is not only the world’s best tourist spot but also the best-suited place for kayaking in the USA with ample lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
The coastal area and aquatic section of New York is an amalgamation of culture, unexplored places, and a whole lot of class. Kayakers, anglers and paddlers from all across the globe come here to experience kayaking and see many different locations and charms of New York’s lake and seawater.
So, if you are looking for a beginner’s guide to kayaking in NYC state, keep sticking around.
From the best places to kayak in NYC to the best kayaks for NYC’s lake and river – this blog posts cover loads of information in-depth. So, make sure to read this blog till the end.
Here are a few things that I have covered in this blog post.
- Weather kayaking in New York is safe or not?
- Lakes, and rivers of New York
- Best kayaks in New York
- Where to get a kayak for rent in NYC?
- Best places for kayaking in New York
Is kayaking safely in NYC New York?
Of course, yes, kayaking is 200% safe and sound in NYC, provided that you are equipped with kayaking accessories and essentials gears. The lakes, rivers and seas are absolutely clear in New York and the current is negligible, allowing you to kayak for hours without worrying about anything.
Many of my friends who stay in the USA or nearby NYC do recommend kayaking in New York. The famous Merrimack River at the north of Concord is the most famous kayaking spot in NYC that you just want to explore. The river is full of joy and absolutely clear water with no tension of aquatic animals or rapids.
Apart from the river, there are ample of small islands, sandy beaches, and reservoirs which are great for swimming and picnicking along with kayaking in NYC.
Going north from the Merrimack River will take you closer to the wet shore and the river here gets a bit shallow and rocky. This kayaking place is more suited for advanced-level paddlers who are experienced to kayak in challenging locations.
On the north side of Merrimack River, you’ll mostly find great beaches alternating to one side and another. The beaches over here are jam-packed with large numbers of groups coming to the wind by taking their inflatable boats, paddle boards and kayaks.
Note that this stretch is very popular on weekends, the beaches will be packed and there will be a large number of groups floating on boats/rafts/“inflatables” with their music and beverages.
Simply put, there are loads and loads of options available for kayaking in NYC with complete safety and an awesome ride.
A brief look at New York’s Lakes and rivers map for kayak
Till now, you might have got an overview of whether kayaking in New York is safe or not. Let us now dive deep into New York’s map for lakes and rivers. This map gives a complete picture of a number of lakes, rivers, dams, beaches, seas and major reservoirs of NYC city.
You can have a close look at it and decide which place is best suited for you to kayak nearby your location.
The above map shows the major rivers, reservoirs, and lakes of New York. In general, rivers in New York flow into the Atlantic Ocean, Mexican Gulf and many other lakes.
From lake Erie to Lake Ontario, from lake Champlain to lake Delaware, NYC is having more than 7000 lakes, ponds, riversides and reservoirs, which makes it the perfect destination for kayaking for people living in the areas of New York or nearby.
Also, there are 11 major lakes in NYC spanning 133,480 acres in area, which are best known for kayaking, paddle boarding, boating and carrying out other water sports activities in NYC.
Some of the major rivers of New York are the Hudson River, Delaware River, and Susquehanna River. In fact, New York’s boundary with Ontario, Canada is the St. Lawrence River, which flows through several important cities and states.
So what are you waiting for?
Get your kayak or paddle board right now, and start kayaking in NYC.
Here’s the list of best lakes for kayaking in NYC
- Lake Champlain
- Oneida Lake
- Lake Ontario
- Lake Erie
Best river for kayaking in NYC
- Hudson River
- Delaware River
- Susquehanna River
- Black River
- Saranac River
What more list? Keep reading the blog post till the end.
Best places for kayaking in New York NYC
Now that you might have got basic idea about whether kayaking in New York City is safe or not. Now, let is dive deep and look at some amazing lakes, seas and rivers for kayaking in NYC.
Best lakes for kayaking in NYC
1. Chautauqua lake
Chautauqua lake is one of the popular destinations for kayaking and canoeing in New York City. Every year, especially in the hot summer, paddlers, anglers and kayakers from different states of the USA and parts of the world visit this lake to enjoy kayaking, boating and paddle boarding.
With ample of water access, lush green forest and mesmerizing sights, spending a weekend in this region is surely the best thing you’ll ever do.
In the entire Chautauqua region, Bear Lake is the smallest of the 5 lakes located in this region. It also has a shoreline bordered mostly by undeveloped wetlands, making it the perfect spot for kayaking and relaxing on the wetlands when you are tired or want to rest.
2. Lake George
Located in the heart of the NYC, Lake George is yet another great place for kayaking and canoeing in New York City. The lake stretches over 32 miles in length and features a stunning shoreline of 176 miles with ample islands and beaches, making it a go-to choice of kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and carrying out many other water sports activities.
Apart from kayaking and paddle boarding, another excellent way to explore lake George and enjoy its scenery on the water is by steamboat cruise, try sunbathe, swimming or wakeboarding. Apart from watersport activities, you can also love walking around beaches and islands with your family and friends.
There are ample shops, restaurants and stores to explore as well.
Travellers are consistently impressed with how clean and well-maintained the area and its surroundings are.
3. Lake Champlain
Being the 6th largest lake in the Nation, Lake Champlain is easy to access the lake and has kayaking spots in New York for paddlers located nearby NYC. This lake is a popular destination for paddling, canoeing, SUPs, flatwater, sea kayaks and many other water sports activities.
While kayaking or canoeing in lake George, you can walk through backcountry ponds, which are popular attractions of this lake. The entire region of lake George is easily navigable with small flatwater and kayaks, provided that you have a GPS system with you.
You can also experience Adirondack wildlife both by kayaking or canoeing. If you are not having your own kayak, canoe or paddle board to glide on lake George, no worries. Guides and kayak rental services are available throughout the region and are affordable compared to buying a full-fledged kayak.
4. Avalanche Lake
Spreading across 9 acres, this is a mountain lake located in the Adirondack High Peaks in NYC. It is a beautiful and remote lake, and well worth the kayaking or canoeing in NYC, especially for those who are prepared to take the miles of paddling experince. It passes through Adirondack Lok, but can also be approached via Upper Works, and the two combined make an excellent way for kayaking or canoeing.
Since the lake is surrounded by loads of mountains, bushes and hills, this lake is suited not only for kayaking but also for camping, trekking and hiking in the mountains.
Because of too many mountains and hills, kayaking or paddling in this region is slightly risky and daunting. But considering the flatwater type and small choppy waves, you can kayak in this region with absolutely no tension and with peace of mind.
The lake remains open throughout the year, but I would recommend you to go kayaking in the summer. You can also bring your dog or pet along but make sure to tie them with a leash.
5. Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Lake is the longest lake in Finger Lakes in NYC and looks absolute stunner from any angle. Whether you are kayaking in a small watercraft or tandem paddleboard, Lake Cayuga has a lot of ample lakeside access points and fun things to do.
Apart from kayaking and canoeing in New York, this lake has also provided visitors and residents with a form of transportation connection to other cities and beyond.
This lake is also responsible for the economic development of the people living in and around it, all thanks to its fishing. Yes, you can also do fishing and hunting activities in the lake by taking relevant permission from the authorities.
From in the sound region of the lake during April and May is worth the wait as you can get some fresh salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout can be found on the northern side of the lake. Also, tributary fishing is good during April in May.
6. Oneida Lake
When it comes to the best places for kayaking or canoeing in New York City, how can we forget about lake Oneida?
This is one of the most shallow and safest lakes to kayak in NYC with a depth of 22 feet. At such amazing and shallow depth kids, newbies and beginner-level paddlers can also come for kayaking in this region. If you have a knack for fishing, Oneida lake has got your back covered too.
Walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, northern pike, tiger musky, bluegill, and round goby are some of the dominating species of fish that you can find on this lake.
If you are tired while kayaking or fishing, think about dining out at Borio’s Restaurant: Serving up fresh seafood and lakeside views, Borio’s is a great option if you want to enjoy some amazing food after a long day kayaking or canoeing in NYC’s most popular Oneida Lake.
7. Skaneateles Lake
How about kayaking in a clear blue lake in New York City? If yes, Skaneateles Lake is the place to be at. This is a popular kayaking spot in New York during July and August, especially for the residents of Florida as well as who rent cottages in nearby places along the lakeside.
From July to August 1000 to 1500 visit this lake per week either to enjoy water sports activities including: water skis, kayaking, camping and a lot more.
Besides kayaking, you can also enjoy a bunch of other activities in the winter like annual youth and varsity hockey tournaments and ice skating show at the Austin Park Pavilion and Skaneateles Community Center occur.
8. Canadice lake
Canadice lake is having two core attributes attached to it. It is one of the smallest of the Finger lakes and highest in the elevation. With peace, calm and undeveloped shorelines, this lake has got ample kayaking spots and destinations.
On the west side of the lake, you’ll find ample fishing spots in NYC as well as walk through some excellent views of the surroundings and enjoy taking pictures and sightseeing. The west side of the lake is also covered with small houses and cottages.
9. Lake Placid
Whether you agree or not, Pristine Adirondack water has miles of accessible rivers, and clear lakes, making Lake Placid one of the best kayaking spots in New York City. Canoeing, kayaking, whitewater river, paddle boarding or wakeboarding and everything in between, you can carry out any water sport activity in this region efforlessly.
The beautiful Lake Placid comes under the Adirondacks region, which has more than 2000+ ponds and lakes, 1500 miles of river and well over 30,000 miles of streams.
There are a bunch of serene views and wildlife species to view from Lake Placid. From schools of fish to the birds that you can feed on, you’ll surely get a stellar view of this place.
What’s more? The famous bandshell on Mirror lake is best known for conducting unforgettable special events and concerts for those who are not much into kayak but still love to spend their weekends on the lakeside by chilling with friends and family.
Overall, this place is surely not a brand ambassador of boredom.
10. Black Lake
As the name says it all, Black Lake is surely an anglers’ paradise. Known to be one of the most famous fishing spots in New York, Black Lake is located upstate of NYC just 2 hours away from the north of Syracuse. This lake is a combination of many underwater shoals, rugged islands and sandbars which are mostly found in northernmost Canada.
Starting from the month of May to October end, fishing on this lake is truly great. Many anglers and kayakers take benefit of high-quality fishing in a scenic setting and enjoy paddling around. Between May to Oct, you’ll fresh air and can also enjoy camping kayaking.
That’s because these are the coldest time over here with a cool and refreshing feeling. In the spring season, the cold goes out and the shoreline of the Black Lake lanterns and campers of the bullhead fisherman light up the evening sky.
Best river for kayaking in NYC
Now, let us walk through some of the best rivers for kayaking or canoeing in New York City.
1. Hudson River
If you are looking for free kayaking spots in New York City, you must visit the Hudson river for sure. This river is a great way to spend a day in New York, especially for beginner and professional kayakers. Boathouses and Kayaking rental shoppes in NYC are located at this river.
The Downtown Boathouse located in Tribeca is one of the most famous nonprofit organisations that offers kayaking, boating, paddle boarding and other water sports programs for the people and provides tourists and residents with an opportunity to enjoy recreational activities on the water.
Since it is a non-profit organization, I am not sure about the quality of its kayaks and watercraft. You can also be looking for kayaks for rent near the Hudson River.
Besides kayaking, the waterways of the Hudson river have lined up a range of offerings, from wildlife spotting to the lush green landscape to historic and famous cultural sites.
2. Delaware River Basin
This river is best known for the famous crossing done by George Washington when he decided to attack during the Revolutionary War. Today, this Delaware River is home to a vibrant waterfront, lakes, and waterfalls where locals and visitors alike can find some great spots for kayaking in NYC.
If you are not interested in kayaking, you can explore many famous tourist spots and attractions here. You can walk through Olympia, the nation’s oldest steel warship which is located inside the Independence Seaport Museum.
You can also head towards the Morgan’s Pier cafe to have a chilled beer and enjoy music overlooking the river and the lakeside.
3. Mongaup River
If you are looking for the perfect whitewater kayaking spot in NYC, or do you want to enjoy river paddle boarding in New York? If your answer to the above two questions is yes, you should be at Mondaup River.
This river is two miles long and offers ample opportunities for kayakers to view eagles, wildlife and eye-captivating locations on the water flow. You can kayak through the large Eastern Hemlock region towering overhead as you slice your kayak via the deep ravine landscape. This kayaking trail sometimes can become wet and muddy, as the river rapids are mighty sometimes.
Wearing a kayaking wetsuit, kayaking shoes, bringing ample water, snacks, a kayak depth finder or fish finder, hat, sunglasses, a kayaking watch and speakers, a kayaking dry storage bag and many other accessories that you need for an awesome kayaking experience.
4. Mohawk River
Regarded as the biggest tributary of the Hudson River, the Mohawk River is 149 miles long, making it one of the longest rivers for kayaking in NYC. The river is named after the Mohawk Nation, a section of the Haudenosaunee people. More than 50% of the river is a waterway in the north of New York City.
Kayakers of all skill levels can unwind on this river as the water flowing is flat, calm and less choppy most of the season. Also, the flow of water is controlled by the locks, you’ll feel that you are kayaking or paddling on the lakeside.
There’s ample opportunity of exploring nature as this river is home to tons of tiny good-looking islands, bays and marshes that will make your kayaking in New York more memorable.
5. Genesee River
From kayaking to paddle boarding, from swimming to canoeing – you can carry out a wide range of water sports activities on this river. Alongside the river, there is some amazing natural scenery that will please your eyes with beauty and mystique.
You can launch your kayak from the end of Petten Street, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-sharp minor, S.244/2. Apart from kayaking, this river is also suited for hiking, camping activities, touring and enjoying picnics along with friends and family.
6. Oswegatchie River
With 220 km long, this is yet another amazing river for kayaking and canoeing in New York City. The river starts its journey from the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in the north to the Saint Lawrence River.
Paddling or kayaking on this river is not too difficult as the current flowing is calm and flatwater type. You can easily navigate the river with an inflatable kayak or even with a hardshell paddle board.
Although the river does not have any extreme currents, however, getting to the small and tight locations can get a bit tough under abnormal conditions. There are ample camping and tenting sites to lean to locations. You can opt for a camping paddle board and make the most of the river.
For fishing, this river has got Smallmouth Bass and Walleye are the primary species of fish that are targeted on the Oswegatchie. These fish can be found near fallen trees and boulders that offer protection.
7. East River
Looking for some free places for canoeing in New York City? If yes, East River has got your back covered.
This is a 100% saltwater river in New York City that connects with upper New York Bay on the south end and Long Island Sound on the north end. The waterway of the river is navigable for its entire lenght of 16 miles, however, the flow of water changes its direction and is also subjected to strong currents often.
If you are planning for kayaking or paddling in these locations I would recommend you gear up with complete kayaking gear & accessories for a safe and secure ride.
What’s more? This river also flows beneath the most iconic bridges of NYC such as the Brooklyn Bridge. Although you can carry out kayaking in this region the water is still dangerous to swim because of the heavy population. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection categorizes the lower East River for use classification 1 as of 2020.
However, it is safe for secondary activities like boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing.
8. Allegheny River
Every summer, lots of people travel to the Allegheny River for kayaking and canoeing in NYC. Here’s why? This river is the part of USA’s most beautiful and gorgeous river system. It is a combination of camping sites, trails, historical sites and many other points of interest, especially for kayakers and paddlers in New York City.
Paddlers and kayakers and enjoy the calm and scenic waterways with eagles, Great Blue Heron, turtles, deer and many other wildlife species along the river aquatic animals. This river was also named 40 Great Fall Weekend Getaways” by National Geographic in the year 2003.
9. Susquehanna River
The last on this list of rivers for kayaking and canoeing in New York City is the Susquehanna River.
This is the longest river of the east coast of the united states with two main branches. One at Cooperstown, New York and another at western Pennsylvania. Both the braches are suited for kayaking and paddle board activities.
There are also several prominent bridges, ferries, canals and dams located on the river which makes it even more eye-captivating and worth kayaking. The river rapids and is calm and composed most of the time and you can easily navigate your kayak without tipping off.
What’s more? There are ample of bass fishies located in the river and numerous bass fishing tournaments also held each year. That’s why this river is also called as premier bass fishing rivers in New York.
What to bring along while kayaking In NYC city?
1. Safety jacket:
Weather you plan for a kayaking adventure in NYC or anywhere in the world, safety comes first. So, make sure that you are equipped with a 100% safe and NMMA and USA coastal guard certified life jacket that will protect you when you tip off from the kayak. The kayak or paddling life jacket is an absolute must especially if you don’t know about swimming.
Bring an insulated cooler to keep your food, drinks and beverages, espeicly if you are planning for long-distance kayaking in NYC lakes or rivers. Having loaded with supplies will keep you boosted and energized in the hot summer or even in the cold winters.
3. Depth finder:
Don’t know the depth of water in a lake or sea? No worries a kayak depth finder will help you out in accurately telling how deep or shallow the water is.
4. Fishing accessories:
These are my all-time favourite because I am a big fan of the fishing kayak in NYC.
kayaking or canoeing in New York is surely a fun activity. You can paddle around a remote island in NYC city or on the beach side. You can also glide through the longest river in New York City or try a hand at fishing on black lake.
That’s what kayaking and canoeing in NYC are all about. However, in order to play it safe, you need a proper way to map and navigate your ideal location, or you might get lost. This is where the kayaking GPS or fish finder system comes into the picture.
A kayaking GPS system will surely help you with navigation, mapping, tracking location and fish, knowing about the depth of water and a lot more. Hence, it is a must-have accessory on the trip.
6. Kayaking speaker:
There are hell loads of reasons why you need a kayak speaker on your journey. Frist, it is the best way to unwind on the water when you are tired of kayaking or canoeing in NYC. Second, most of kayak speakers are waterproof, so you don’t need to worry about getting them broke or wasted.
Third, even if you manage to press all the right buttons on your phone with wet fingers, there is no guarantee that your favourite song will start playing.
A GPS smartwatch will help you track the time and might also help you with connecting with your friends and family if you are not carrying your cell phone.
8. Dry storage bag:
I am 100% sure you want to carry your necessary kayaking accessories and gear while kayaking or canoeing in NYC, right? If yes, then a kayak dry storage bag is the perfect gear for your next wilderness.
How much does it cost for kayaking in NYC?
If you are an experienced paddler or kayaker with your own kayak and paddle board, then the cost of kayaking in New York is almost zero for you. However, if you don’t own a kayak or canoe, and don’t know how to paddle around, then you might end up spending some dollars for kayaking in NYC.
In order to enjoy kayak or canoeing in NYC, you don’t need to buy a completely new kayak or watercraft. There are loads of kayak rentals in New York available that charge a small fee for hourly rides and also give you kayaking lessons.
For example, if you want to rent a kayak in Cover, it might cost you $10 for 45 minutes. Kayaking with a dog will cost anywhere between $15 to $40 for 45 minutes. If you are looking for a skyline trip, it will cost $65 for 1 hour.
Renting a paddle board for yoga in NYC will cost $20 for 45 minutes.
For private kayaking lessons or courses in NYC, you might end up paying $95 for 1 hour and for paddle boarding it will cost you $75 for 2 hours.
Kayak Rentals In NYC New York?
Don’t have a kayak? No worries, you can rent a kayak in New York and still enjoy your ride. Here are a few places where you can rent kayaks in NYC.
Do you need a permit to kayak in New York?
The good news is that you don’t need a kayaking license or a permit for kayaking on any waterway in the USA. However, some states in the USA do require to the registration of kayaks or boats. As of now, there are around 6 to 7 states in the USA that require kayak owners to register their watercraft. Besides, there are many other states that have recently launched a new set of rules and regulations for kayaking on the waterway. Some of these are Alaska, Maine, Montana, Washington, and Idaho.
Although you don’t need a kayaking permit in most states, however, make sure that you don’t violate any rule while kayaking on lakes, rivers, beaches and seas.
Prior to starting your journey, make sure that you go through the rules and regulations specified by the local authorities of that particular region.
FAQs About Kayaking And Canoeing In New York City [NYC]
No, you don’t need permits or licenses for kayaking or canoeing in New York City. If you own a kayak or paddle board for canoe then you can take it for ride anywhere in NYC. However, make sure to consult with the local authorises before kayaking on any river or lake in NYC.
Absolutely! You can kayak anywhere in NYC without any hesitation. There are 100+ lakes, rivers, reservoirs and ample beachside in New York where you can kayak, canoe and paddle board.
There are more than 7,600 freshwater lakes and 100+ rivers in New York where you can kayak, canoe, do boating, paddle boarding, wakeboarding and carry out many other watersport activities.
There is no specific answer to this question. Generaly, anytype of kayak you can buy or rent for kayaking in New York. From fishing kayaks to recreational kayaks, from tandem kayaks to inflatable kayaks – anytype of watercraft is suited for kayaking in NYC.