Paddle and Explore the Hudson River

2 Whitewater kayakers facing each other on a riverThe Hudson Valley offers a wealth of places to go for paddlers looking to explore the area and get their feet wet getting to know all the inland waterways that crisscross the valley. The Hudson River itself is a wonderful place to paddle, allowing paddlers the chance to view such notable places from the river as the Culinary Institute of America , Bannerman Island, The U.S. Military Academy at West Point  and Constitution Island, across from West Point, among many others directly from the water.

3 people on kayaksThere are seven lighthouses left along the Hudson that paddlers can view, many offering refuge for the host of wildlife that abounds along the river. For birders, the Hudson offers a plethora of birds to spy, bald eagles, great blue herons, spotted sandpipers, snowy egrets, kingfishers, cormorants, ospreys and several varieties of ducks can be found along the edges and inlets of the river. Many paddlers bring waterproof cameras or watertight containers for their smartphones with them to capture the beauty and diversity that the Hudson offers up.

If you do not have your own boat or paddleboard to bring with you while visiting the valley, the region offers a wide variety of rental options located up and down the river to choose from:

A Day Away Kayak Rentals
Address: 944 NY-213, Kingston, NY 12401
(845) 750-6538

Atlantic Kayak Tours
320 W Saugerties Rd, Saugerties, NY 12477
(845) 246-2187

Hudson Paddles
108 Water St, Hudson, NY 12534
(518) 992-5787

Hudson River Expeditions
14 Market St, Cold Spring, NY 10516
(845) 809-5935

I Paddle New York
61 S Partition St, Saugerties, NY 12477
(845) 532-7797

Liberty Kayak Adventures
17 Twin Rd, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
(845) 790-5322

New Paltz Kayaking
31 Plains Rd, New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 594-6353

River Connection
9 W Market St, Hyde Park, NY 12538
(845) 229-0595

Storm King Adventure Tours
4 Duncan Ave, Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY 12520
(845) 534-7800

Solo kayaker on a riverBoating safety, especially on a river as large and as well-trafficked as the Hudson is key. In New York State, regulations require that cold weather boaters in craft less than 21 feet in length must wear securely fastened life jackets between November 1 and May 1. On the Hudson, it’s a good idea to wear a life jacket in all seasons and in all weather. While the temptation in hot weather is to stow the life jacket in or on top of the boat or board, the river itself while seemingly mild, can host a variety of dangers which can hit in an instant. Weather can change on a dime and a high-speed powerboat can create boat or paddleboard swamping waves before you even have a chance to react. Submerged logs floating in the river can also pose boat capsizing obstacles, so it is never a bad idea to be as careful as possible.

Before launching your watercraft, here a few things to consider ahead of time, as well as bring with you.

  • Know your limits, launching a kayak down river and paddling for several hours with the flow of the river makes for an easy and enjoyable paddle, but will you have the strength and the energy to paddle back? And think of time before you launch, paddling upriver can take two to three times longer then paddling downriver. It can take even longer with a headwind blowing against you. Launching in late afternoon downriver could result in you trying to make your way back up in the dark!
  • Keep clear of motorized craft, when paddling as a group, it is better to stagger boats behind one another than a group of people abreast of each other and blocking the waterway.
  • When paddling in an area you are not familiar with, find information about currents and the conditions of the shoreline along your route ahead of time. Plan out places where you can put in if hazardous weather conditions come up. Always check the weather before boating. Check the weather channel as well as the NOAA Marine Forecast page It’s best practices to bookmark these pages and check every few hours especially if you see thunderheads on the horizon.
  • Having a paddle leash is recommended. Being on the river without a paddle brings new meaning to being up a creek without a paddle. It’s not just the risk of capsizing that results in paddle loss, it can be a brief distraction taking a drink of water and balancing the paddle across your boat and board and then it tipping off and rapidly going downriver.
  • While this seems like common sense, don’t drink and paddle. Hot weather and the movement of the water will aggravate an already fuzzy head and make judgment calls that are not the wisest. The 5 minutes you “think” you might have to cross a channel before the massive tanker comes steaming down the river is most probably a lot less.
  • Let someone know where you plan to go before launching, if renting let the boat rental log where you plan to paddle. If you are bringing your own watercraft, let someone in the area or a friend or relative know where you are going and plan to check in with them as soon as you are back. Thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours are spent looking for missing boaters every year, many of them from the fact that no knew where the boaters were going or when they were supposed to return,
  • Bring water and lots of it! Staying hydrated is the key to an enjoyable paddle. Long hours out in a boat plus exercise can lead to dehydration very quickly. Bringing soda or juice instead of water is not recommended because sugary drinks can help dehydrate more quickly.
  • Bring some high energy snacks, paddling can be draining and the energy to get back across the river or back to where you originally put in can always use a boost.
  • Bring a plastic safety whistle and make it easily accessible and tied to your lifejacket, make sure the string is long enough to be brought up to your mouth to use easily but short enough so that if you capsized it would not tangle with your arms.
  • Last but not least, sun protection and cover are always wise, the higher the SPF the better, you will get a bad burn from sunlight reflecting off the water in addition to the rays beating down from above.

Two kayakers exploring a river bankPro paddling tips, bug spray wipes are always useful to have stashed in a life jacket pocket, marshy areas and shady river edges tend to have a lot of mosquitos congregating. A few inexpensive mylar safety blankets are a great added addition to a small kit and small enough to stick into that life jacket pocket as well. Safety blankets can be used in a variety of ways in emergency situations and in the event of getting stuck outside in a storm, whether beached on land on or stuck on a boat, can be used as a shelter from the elements.

We invite you to come and enjoy all the Hudson Valley and Hudson River has to offer. Our member B&Bs offer a great night’s sleep before and after your paddle and a delicious breakfast to help boost your energy and please your palate before an enjoyable fun and recreational day on the river.

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