The summer is coming to a close, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of water activities. September and October are still fine months for canoeing and kayaking and the Philadelphia area offers several places to indulge in these water sports. Many of our local waterways are open to paddling excursions.
Some of the lakes in our area parks also host liveries, which rent watercraft, and other equipment you need to get started. Although many of these are closed for the season, rentals are still available in Nockamixon, French Creek and Green Lane Parks, at least through the next couple weekends. There are also a number of local outfitters that rent canoes and kayaks and/or offer trips and tours. When you set out, you should wear comfortable clothes (preferably synthetic, which will dry faster) and shoes that can get wet. It is a good idea to bring along a water bottle, as the sun’s effects are often intensified when you are on the water and you may want to bring a towel and maybe a change of clothes to leave in the car for your return.
Although there are specific strokes and techniques involved (and differ between canoeing and kayaking), you should be able to get a quick lesson from the rental agent to get you started or even sign up for a class (which in many cases costs little more than the rental fee).
Another option is to take a boat out on one of the rivers. The Delaware, the Schuylkill and the Brandywine Rivers all have stretches that are navigable for small watercraft. Keep in mind that traveling by watercraft on a river is generally a one-way trip, so you need to plan ahead and either leave a vehicle at your pull-out spot or arrange for transportation with a local outdoor company.
Paddling trips offer relaxation and a unique perspective on nature. For a longer adventure, river paddling also offers the option of taking overnight or even multi-day trips. The area also has a couple annual paddling sojourns, organized multi-day trips with a large group. The Schuylkill River Sojourn and the Perkiomen Creek Sojourn both take place each June.
If you have your own watercraft, keep in mind that a launch permit is required to use it in public waters. Check the regulations before you head out as things sometimes change. The PA Fish and Boat Commission issues permits for state waterways, Bucks County Parks and Recreation requires a county permit to launch boats in county parks. Be aware that at Green Lane Park, your boat must be quarantined for 10 days before use.
Paddling a canoe or kayak is a fun way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. You will see things that you would otherwise miss and unlike other ways of traveling, have the opportunity to occasionally stop and relax and just enjoy the scenery.