downtown of Pittsburgh at night, bay

Kayaking In Pittsburgh: A Guide To The Parks And Rivers

 downtown of Pittsburgh at night, bay

Are you looking for a thrilling adventure in Pittsburgh? Why not try kayaking? This city is known for its three rivers and numerous parks that offer kayaking opportunities for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

In this guide, you will find all the information you need to plan your kayaking trip in Pittsburgh.

Firstly, you will learn about the equipment you need and the basic techniques required for kayaking. Safety is paramount when it comes to kayaking, and we will provide you with all the necessary tips to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Then, we will take you through the three rivers in Pittsburgh and the different kayaking routes available. You will also learn about the current river conditions and local regulations that you need to be aware of.

Finally, we will introduce you to some of the kayaking clubs and tours available in Pittsburgh, which are perfect for those looking to join a community of kayaking enthusiasts or explore the city’s waterways with a knowledgeable guide.

Get ready for an exciting adventure on the water!

Kayaking Equipment

If you’re lookin’ to hit the water in the Steel City, it’s important to know what gear you need.

First and foremost, you’ll need a kayak. If you don’t own one, there are plenty of rental options available throughout the city. Most rental places offer single and tandem kayaks, so you can choose based on your preferences and the size of your group.

Next up, you’ll need a paddle. Many rental places will provide paddles along with the kayak, but if you’re bringing your own boat, make sure to bring a paddle that’s the appropriate length for your height.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a paddle that’s roughly the same length as your height in inches, plus a few extra inches.

Finally, you’ll need a personal flotation device (PFD). This is a non-negotiable item for kayaking, as it could save your life in the event of an accident.

Most rental places will provide PFDs along with the kayak and paddle, but if you’re bringing your own gear, make sure to bring a PFD that fits snugly and is designed specifically for kayaking.

In summary, when it comes to kayaking in Pittsburgh, you’ll need a kayak, paddle, and PFD. If you don’t own your own gear, rental options are available throughout the city.

And always remember to wear your PFD – safety should always be your top priority on the water.

Basic Kayaking Techniques

You’ll be paddling like a pro in no time with these simple techniques to maneuver through the waters with ease. Before starting your kayaking adventure in Pittsburgh, it’s important to learn the basics.

First, make sure you have a good grip on your paddle and always hold it with both hands. Keep your arms straight and rotate your torso to paddle more efficiently. Remember to keep your eyes on the water ahead, and if you’re not sure where you’re going, consult a map.

Kayaking in Pittsburgh, specifically on the Allegheny River, can be a fun and exciting experience. However, it’s important to know how to control your kayak. To steer your kayak, use a sweep stroke. Dip your paddle into the water near the front of the kayak and pull it towards the back of the boat. To turn left, use a sweep stroke on the right side of the kayak and vice versa. Additionally, if you need to stop quickly, use a reverse stroke. Simply paddle in the opposite direction, and your kayak will come to a stop.

Venture Outdoors offers a variety of guided kayaking tours along the Three Rivers Water Trail. During these tours, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more advanced kayaking techniques, such as edging and bracing.

Edging is when you tilt your kayak to one side to make tighter turns. Bracing is when you use your paddle to prevent your kayak from tipping over. With these skills, you’ll be able to navigate the waters of Pittsburgh with ease and confidence.

Paddling Safety

To ensure your safety while kayaking in Pittsburgh, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with proper paddling safety techniques and equipment.

Before you hit the water, make sure you have the appropriate personal flotation device (PFD) that fits you snugly. The PFD should be worn at all times while on the water.

Additionally, you should have a whistle, which can be used to signal for help in case of an emergency. When paddling on the rivers, it’s important to be aware of the currents, which can be strong and unpredictable.

Always check the weather forecast and river conditions before setting out. Also, be mindful of boat traffic and keep a safe distance from other boaters.

If you’re a beginner, you may want to consider taking a safety course to learn more about proper paddling techniques and how to handle emergency situations. If you don’t have your own kayak, there are several kayak rental companies in Pittsburgh that offer both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks.

Some of the popular spots for kayaking in Pittsburgh include the Allegheny River and the Three Rivers, which offer scenic views of the city skyline.

By following proper paddling safety techniques and staying alert while on the water, you can have a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in Pittsburgh.

The Three Rivers

Exploring the Three Rivers is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the beauty and excitement of Pittsburgh from a unique perspective.

The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers all converge in Pittsburgh, creating a diverse and dynamic waterway that is perfect for kayaking in Pittsburgh. The North Shore offers stunning views of the city skyline, while Point State Park is an ideal starting point for your kayaking journey.

The Allegheny River is one of the most popular rivers for kayaking in Pittsburgh. It flows through the city and offers a variety of paddling opportunities for both beginners and experienced kayakers. The river is known for its calm waters, making it a great place to learn the basics of kayaking. The Allegheny River also offers stunning views of the city, including the iconic PNC Park and Heinz Field.

The Monongahela and Ohio Rivers are also great options for kayaking in Pittsburgh. The Monongahela River is known for its fast-moving waters and challenging rapids, making it a favorite among experienced kayakers. The Ohio River, on the other hand, is known for its calm waters and scenic views.

No matter which river you choose to explore, kayaking in Pittsburgh is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Pittsburgh Kayaking Routes

kayaking in Pittsburgh

If you’re looking for some of the best kayaking routes in the area, check out these scenic waterways that offer a variety of challenges and breathtaking views.

The Allegheny River is a popular spot for kayaking, with several access points throughout Pittsburgh. Start at North Shore Riverfront Park and paddle upstream for a challenging workout or head downstream towards Point State Park for stunning views of the city skyline.

Another great kayaking route is the Youghiogheny River, located just outside of Pittsburgh in Ohiopyle State Park. This river offers a mix of calm and rapids, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced kayakers. Take in the natural beauty of the Laurel Highlands as you paddle through the park’s stunning gorges and waterfalls.

For a more urban kayaking experience, head to the Monongahela River and paddle through downtown Pittsburgh. Launch from South Side Riverfront Park and navigate your way through the bridges and landmarks that make up the city’s skyline. This route offers a unique perspective on Pittsburgh and is a must-do for any kayaking enthusiast visiting the area.

Pittsburgh Kayaking Events

Get ready to experience some exciting events on the water with these upcoming kayaking activities in the area. If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, check out the whitewater kayaking events happening on the Ohio River. These events are perfect for experienced kayakers looking to challenge themselves on some of the most exciting rapids in the region.

If you’re new to kayaking, don’t worry – there are plenty of beginner-friendly events happening too. Looking for a more leisurely kayak or canoe experience? There are plenty of events happening on the water trails throughout the area. Many of these events include kayak rentals, making it easy for you to get out on the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

One popular location for kayaking events is Riverfront Park, which offers easy access to the river and plenty of space for kayakers to launch and explore. No matter what your skill level is, there’s sure to be a kayaking event in Pittsburgh that’s perfect for you.

So why not gather some friends, rent a kayak, and get out on the water to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air? Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure or a relaxing paddle, there’s no better way to experience all that Pittsburgh has to offer than by kayaking on its beautiful rivers.

Kayak Rentals

You can easily get your hands on a kayak and enjoy the beautiful waterways by taking advantage of the kayak rentals available in Pittsburgh. Renting a kayak is a great option for those who want to enjoy the rivers and lakes without the hassle of owning a kayak or transporting it.

Here are some of the best places to rent a kayak in Pittsburgh:

  1. Kayak Pittsburgh: This rental service has three locations along the rivers in Pittsburgh. They offer both single and tandem kayaks, as well as stand-up paddleboards. You can rent a kayak for as little as an hour or for a full day. They also offer guided tours if you’re new to kayaking.
  2. Venture Outdoors: This non-profit organization offers guided kayak tours and rentals at North Park Lake. They have single and tandem kayaks available to rent, as well as stand-up paddleboards. They also offer classes for those who want to improve their kayaking skills.
  3. Moraine State Park: If you’re willing to venture a little farther out of Pittsburgh, Moraine State Park is a great place to launch your kayak. They have a rental concession that offers kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The park also has a beautiful lake with plenty of wildlife to see.
  4. Ohiopyle State Park: Another great option outside of Pittsburgh is Ohiopyle State Park. They have a rental concession that offers kayaks, canoes, and rafts. The park is located on the Youghiogheny River and offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

With so many options for kayak rentals in and around Pittsburgh, there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy the waterways. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, there’s something for everyone. So grab a paddle and explore all that Pittsburgh’s rivers and lakes have to offer!

River Conditions

Before heading out on the waterways for kayaking in Pittsburgh, make sure to check the latest river conditions for a safe and enjoyable experience. The weather can change quickly, and sudden rainstorms can cause the water levels to rise, making it dangerous to paddle. You can check the river conditions by visiting the National Weather Service website or by calling the park ranger stations in the area.

North Park Lake is a great place for beginners to practice their kayaking skills. The lake is calm and usually has no current, making it easy to paddle. However, it’s still important to check the river conditions before heading out since the lake is fed by a stream that can overflow during heavy rain.

Ohiopyle is a popular destination for kayaking enthusiasts, with rapids ranging from Class I to Class V. Be sure to check the river conditions before you go, as the water levels can change quickly and unexpectedly.

The Monongahela River is another popular spot for kayaking in Pittsburgh. It offers a mix of calm waters and challenging rapids, depending on where you choose to paddle. However, river conditions can change quickly due to weather and other factors, so it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Always wear a life jacket and be prepared for any conditions you may encounter. By checking the river conditions before heading out and staying aware of any changes, you can have a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience.

Local Regulations

As a local kayaker, it’s important to know the regulations set by authorities such as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. According to their guidelines, all boats must have a wearable personal flotation device for each person on board. It’s also illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, with a fine of up to $5000 and up to one year imprisonment for violating this law.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in Pittsburgh, it’s essential to follow these regulations.

Additionally, it’s important to note that different bodies of water may have their own specific rules. For example, North Park Lake prohibits swimming and wading, and kayakers must stay at least 50 feet away from the swimming area. On the Ohio River, kayakers must stay at least 100 feet away from commercial vessels and barges.

By following these regulations, you can enjoy kayaking in Pittsburgh’s beautiful parks and rivers without any legal issues. Remember to always wear a personal flotation device and avoid operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With these guidelines in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Kayaking Clubs

Pittsburgh cityscape with the Ohio river
Pittsburgh cityscape with the Ohio river in the morning

If you’re looking to connect with other water enthusiasts and improve your skills, joining a kayaking club can be a great way to do so.

In Pittsburgh, there are several clubs that cater to both beginners and experienced paddlers. One of the most popular clubs is the Three Rivers Paddling Club, which offers a variety of trips and training programs throughout the year. They organize paddles on local rivers such as the Ohio and Youghiogheny, as well as trips to more distant destinations such as North Park Lake and Ohiopyle.

Another great kayaking club in Pittsburgh is the Pittsburgh Kayak Club. This club has been around for over 20 years and has a wide range of members, from beginners to experienced paddlers. They offer a variety of events and paddles throughout the year, including trips to local rivers and lakes, as well as longer trips to destinations such as Lake Erie and the Great Lakes.

If you’re looking for a club with a more competitive edge, the Steel City Paddlers Racing Team may be for you. This group focuses on training and competing in sprint and marathon canoe and kayak races. They also offer recreational paddling and training programs for those who want to improve their skills but aren’t interested in racing.

Whatever your skill level or interests, joining a kayaking club in Pittsburgh is a great way to meet new people and explore the many waterways in the area.

Kayaking Tours

Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure as we take you on a journey through the waterways of Pittsburgh like a fish swimming upstream. If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the city, kayaking in Pittsburgh is a must-try experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, there are plenty of options to choose from. One of the best places to kayak in Pittsburgh is North Park Lake. Located just 15 miles north of the city, this 65-acre lake is perfect for a relaxing afternoon paddle. The calm waters and beautiful scenery make it an ideal spot for beginners.

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, head to Ohiopyle. This small town located about an hour and a half southeast of Pittsburgh offers some of the best whitewater kayaking in the area. The Youghiogheny River, which runs through the town, is a popular spot for kayakers of all skill levels.

If you’re new to kayaking or just looking for a guided tour, there are several options available in Pittsburgh. Venture Outdoors offers a variety of kayaking tours, including a sunset paddle on the Allegheny River and a moonlight paddle on North Park Lake. Kayak Pittsburgh also offers guided tours, including a popular trip down the Ohio River to see the city skyline from a unique perspective.

No matter which tour you choose, kayaking in Pittsburgh is a great way to explore the city and get some exercise at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring my dog kayaking with me?

Kayaking with your dog can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to consider a few things before you hit the water.

First and foremost, make sure your dog is comfortable around water and has experience swimming.

Additionally, it’s important to ensure your kayak has enough space for your pup and any necessary safety gear.

You should also bring plenty of water and snacks for your dog, and be prepared to take breaks as needed.

Lastly, be sure to follow any park or river regulations regarding dogs and keep your pet on a leash if required.

With some extra preparation and consideration, kayaking with your dog can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors together.

Are there any age restrictions for kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh?

You may be wondering if there are any age restrictions for kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh.

It’s important to note that the age restrictions vary depending on the kayak rental company and park regulations.

However, most companies require kayakers to be at least 18 years old or have a parent or legal guardian sign a waiver for those under 18.

Some parks may also have specific age restrictions for certain sections of the river.

Always check with the rental company or park regulations before heading out on the water to ensure you’re in compliance with their rules and regulations.

What type of wildlife can I expect to see while kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh?

While kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh, you can expect to see a variety of wildlife. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, blue herons, and osprey flying overhead.

You may also spot river otters swimming in the water, turtles basking on rocks, and fish jumping out of the water.

Depending on the time of year, you may even witness a migration of ducks or geese. It’s important to remember to respect the wildlife and their habitats by keeping a safe distance and not disturbing them.

Enjoy the beauty of nature while kayaking in Pittsburgh.

Can I kayak at night on the rivers in Pittsburgh?

Picture this: the city lights twinkling above you, the sound of water lapping against your kayak, and the thrill of adventure as you navigate the rivers of Pittsburgh at night.

But before you grab your paddle and launch into the darkness, it’s important to know the rules and safety precautions for kayaking at night. While it’s legal to kayak on the rivers after dark, it’s recommended to stay close to the shore and use lights to increase visibility.

Additionally, be aware of potential hazards such as low-hanging bridges and commercial boats. With the proper preparation and caution, kayaking under the stars can be a truly magical experience.

Are there any designated areas for fishing while kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh?

If you’re planning on kayaking on the rivers in Pittsburgh and also want to take some time to fish, there are designated areas for fishing while kayaking.

These areas are marked by buoys and are typically located near the shorelines. Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring your own fishing gear and a valid fishing license.

Additionally, be sure to follow any rules or regulations set forth by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Happy fishing and kayaking!


Congratulations! You’re now ready to explore the beautiful rivers of Pittsburgh through kayaking!

With the right equipment, basic techniques, and safety measures, you can enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife while paddling through the Three Rivers. Don’t forget to check the river conditions and local regulations before embarking on your adventure.

Pittsburgh’s kayaking clubs and tours offer great opportunities for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful solo ride or an exhilarating group experience, there’s something for everyone.

So, grab your paddle, put on your life jacket, and take the plunge into the exciting world of kayaking in Pittsburgh. You won’t regret it!