by Vanessa Veltri
Nature. It’s the one thing we can count on from day to day, year to year. Thousands of years ago, Native Americans paddled through the waters of the Hudson River and connecting tributaries, discovering the fruitful bounty of the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas. When connecting to nature, our past revives the spirit and soul, reminding us of our roots. And this summer, there’s no better way to connect than to take an adventurous journey through the same channels and canals our ancestors once traversed.
I spoke to Wynter Kennedy of Kenco in Kingston and he gave me the insider’s scoop:
The Hudson Valley is a great place to be a recreational boater; from the Hudson River to small whitewater creeks, there is something for everyone. Because flat water kayaks and other personally powered watercraft sit so high in the water, it is possible to paddle in very shallow bodies of water, as well as very deep. Because you are your own motor, it is also very silent, making them great for bird and animal spotting. New to boating is the stand up paddleboard (SUP), which is a great workout and lots of fun. Kayak fishing is also a rapidly growing segment of this sport, enjoyed by people who are avid kayakers picking up a fishing rod for the first time and avid fishermen climbing into a kayak as beginners. Kayaking is easy for beginners as there is almost no learning curve—if you can sit and move your arms, you can kayak. Personally I like to kayak in the Hudson, as the conditions are always changing. I can put in at the Rondout Creek at the Strand in Kingston and from there paddle north or south in the river. I have seen bald eagles diving for fish twenty feet in front of me, as well as giant carp knocking into the side of my kayak, and sometimes I even take multi-day trips and camp along the way.
So, come with me on my voyage, as I uncover the finest kayaking and canoeing the Hudson Valley and Ulster County have to offer, and together we’ll discover the pristine waters of our past. With its numerous lakes and miles of rivers and streams, this area provides an abundance of opportunities to get our paddles wet, but I’ve highlighted a few launching points and outfitters:
For 32 years, Kenco in Kingston has been outfitting adventure seekers in the Hudson River Valley. A family-owned business, they offer a wide selection of outdoor equipment for even the most daring nature lover, including kayaks, canoes, fishing supplies, archery equipment, outdoor clothing, and footwear. Whether you paddle, ride, hike, shoot, fish, or run, they carry the tools! Kenco and Kingston Parks and Recreation also join forces each year in early June to put on the Kingston Kayak Festival. Try different types of kayaks right on the Hudson River, so you can really get a feel as to what makes each kayak different. Plus, try out the latest craze—stand up paddleboards. Contact Wynter Kennedy at 845-340-0552; atkenco.com
Forsyth Nature Center, Kingston
With a variety of kayaking programs being offered this summer, you can cruise down the Hudson River, Rondout Creek, or Esopus Creek through the Forsyth Nature Center. Are you a Kingston resident? If so, enjoy Up the Creek Evening Paddle program for free! Non-residents pay just $15. There are also morning and sunset paddles for a low rate. Don’t miss the Kingston Kayak Festival on June 8 from 10am–4pm. More details, dates, and times can be found on their website. Go to visitvortex.com/Kayaking_on_the_Hudson_River to see the Hudson River kayak teaser video with the Kingston Parks Department. Call 845-339-3053; forsythnaturecenter.org/kingston-kayaks
The River Connection, Hyde Park
The River Connection in Hyde Park is your source for all things kayaking. Not only do they offer the latest in equipment and gear relating to paddling, but they also offer expert guided tours and instructional programs to suit your specific level of expertise. Husband and wife team Dorothy and Marshall Seddon will give you the advice you need to enjoy a wonderful paddling experience as you cruise through the currents with them guiding you along. Visit their website for more information on gear, tours, and upcoming events. Call Dorothy and Marshall Seddon at 845-229-0595; the-river-connection.com
Hudson Valley Outfitters, Cold Spring
Just a one-hour scenic train ride from NYC, Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring provides paddlers and hikers alike with great clothing and footwear so you can hit the waters or trails in style. Kayak sales, rentals, tours, and instruction are available to you at this Cold Spring location. Their most popular tour will bring you through Constitution Marsh, where beginner kayakers, like me, will feel at ease as we paddle through scenic marshland, rich with wildlife. Lunch, enjoyed next to a waterfall, is included in this tour. Contact Matt Kane at 845-265-0221; hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com
Atlantic Kayak Tours, Saugerties
Atlantic Kayak Tours is a large, experienced kayak outfitter in the New York tri-state area, touring primarily in the Hudson River Valley. Based in Saugerties, they offer over 75 different kayak tours and instructional programs and are committed to the highest standards of kayak training for all learning levels. Paddling is exciting even the very first time, but it becomes sheer joy as the paddler learns to control a boat with grace, ease, and confidence. With just a little bit of training, practice, and experience, you’ll be on our way! They also offer canoe rentals for those who like to bring it back old school. Their website provides extensive information on tours, equipment, and pricing. 845-246-2187; atlantickayaktours.com
Our cover image, taken at the Esopus Meadows Preserve, gives us just a glimpse of the breathtaking views we can experience when our hulls touch down upon the nostalgic waters of New York. This perfect destination to take in Mother Nature first-hand is one of many “put-in” spots along the Hudson River where our journey can begin.
Local adventurers also recommend the following spots as favorites not to be missed:
Chodikee Lake/Black Creek, Lloyd
North-South Lake, Hunter
The Tivoli Bays, Red Hook
Basha Kill, Wurtsboro
Additional links of interest: