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Placid place perfect for peewee paddlers, thanks to Kayak Pittsburgh

August08/ 2011

From its location beneath the Roberto Clemente Bridge, Kayak Pittsburgh launches paddlers straight into the Monongahela River.

But if this sounds overwhelming to a young or new kayaker, smaller kids and novices can now push off from Kayak Pittsburgh’s spot on North Park Lake, which reopened Aug. 1 after a two-year hiatus. It will stay open through Labor Day weekend.

“The water is not moving at all,” says Kayak Pittsburgh Manager Liam Cooney. “It’s ideal for people who want a few more baby steps.”

The 75-acre, horseshoe-shaped, manmade lake in North Park (which also hosts a playground, swimming pool, tennis courts and biking and hiking trails) was dredged of sentiment over the last two summers and is back to an average depth of 15 feet, up from five or so feet pre-dredge, says Cooney. Boats there are launched out of a stone boathouse built in the 1930s.

Each rental comes with a paddle (of course!), a life jacket and a brief safety lesson. In addition to solo and tandem kayaks, Kayak Pittsburgh rents out rowboats, canoes and paddleboats. Rates range from $15 to $20 for the first hour, then $8 to $10 for each additional half hour, depending on the vessel. Paddlers have to be 12 or older to get into a boat by themselves, and must weight at least 35 pounds to get into a boat at all.

There is also a third outpost on Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons. Of course, it’s the group’s central spot, which gives access to the three rivers, that is Kayak Pittsburgh’s most popular, says Cooney. It attracts 15,000 visitors a season versus the 6,000 to 7,000 at the lakeside locations. Still, he recommends Lake Elizabeth and North Park for anyone new to paddle sports. The Clemente Bridge location will always be there for next summer.

Writer: Nick Keppler

Source: Liam Cooney, Kayak Pittsburgh