Hudson Valley Kayaking is a favorite pass time in the area

Hudson Valley Kayaking: A Beginner’s Guide to Inspire your Next Adventure

Are you ready for an adventure in the beautiful Hudson Valley? Hudson Valley Kayaking is a popular pass time of many. If you have never tried Kayaking, it is a great way to explore the area and get close to nature while experiencing some of the stunning scenery that the Hudson Valley has to offer. 

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or it’s your first time and you are looking to try something new, the Hudson Valley offers endless opportunities for a great time, exploration, and excitement. 

In this article, I’ll provide a beginner’s guide to planning your kayaking adventure in the Hudson Valley.

  • I will give you tips on the best places to kayak, including along the Hudson River as well as places with calm waters such as the various lakes, preserves and reservoirs located of the area.
  • I will also tell you where to find kayak rentals, different kayak programs, tours, and lessons, and what to bring on your trip.

So, grab your paddle and let’s hit the water!

Looking out to the Hudson River from Peekskill. This is the best way to explore the Hudson Valley

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Why is Hudson Valley Hiking so Popular?

Before we start talking about the best locations for Hudson Valley Kayaking, let’s talk about this sport, in general.

Kayaking is a popular outdoor recreational activity in which individuals use a kayak, a small, narrow watercraft, to navigate through waterways, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. Kayaking can be done for a variety of purposes, including sport, leisure, and transportation.

Kayaks can be propelled through the water using a double-bladed paddle, and can be steered using a variety of techniques, such as using a rudder or leaning the kayak to one side.

Hudson Valley Kayaking is a favorite pass time in the area

Kayaking can be a physically demanding activity, as it requires the kayaker to use upper body strength to paddle the kayak through the water. However, kayaking can also be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, as it allows individuals to experience the beauty of nature and explore new areas.

Why Kayak on the Hudson River?

The Hudson River played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War. During the war, the British controlled the river, using it as a transportation route to move troops and supplies.

In an effort to prevent the British from using the river, the Continental Army constructed a series of defenses along its shores, including the Great Chain. The Great Chain was a series of heavy iron chains that were stretched across the Hudson River at West Point to block the passage of British ships.

Because of this amazing piece of history, many flock to the area to experience Hudson Valley Kayaking in these historic waters.

Hudson Valley Towns listed on this sign at Esopus park

The Hudson River Valley is the perfect place to go kayaking. Its beautiful landscapes and waterways make it a popular destination for experienced paddlers and novice kayakers.

The Hudson River, which runs through the region, is a popular location for kayaking, as it offers a variety of paddling experiences, from calm and peaceful stretches to more challenging whitewater sections.

In addition to the Hudson River, the Hudson Valley also has many other waterways, such as lakes and streams, that are suitable for kayaking. These waterways offer a range of paddling experiences, from peaceful flatwater paddling to more challenging whitewater paddling.

Popular Hudson Valley Kayaking Spots

The Hudson River is a vast waterway that offers opportunities for kayaking to any nature lover or adventure seeker. From the peaceful shores of the river to the more challenging rapids, there is something for every kayaker on the Hudson River. Some of the most popular kayaking spots along the Hudson River include:

– Annsville Creek Preserve

Located in Cortlandt, this nature preserve offers a beautiful and peaceful spot for kayaking. A quiet cove off the Hudson River, Annsville offers lots of kayaking, fishing and crabbing at certain times of the year. If you are lucky, you may even see one of the bald eagles that nests and raises their babies in the area.

Annsville Paddlesport Center is a unique part of the Hudson Highlands State Park.  It is an area designated for the launching of car-top boats. 

There is access by water to both the Hudson River and Annsville Creek. In addition, Atlantic Kayak Tours operates a center on the park grounds that includes merchandise, kayak rentals and tours.

Annsville Creek is an excellent place to learn to paddle.  The water is quiet, shallow and protected.  Pass under the route 202 bridge into a wide quiet section of the creek.  Further on, the creek divides into three smaller channels.  All are navigable for a short distance at high tide, but the area does tend to drain as the tide goes out.

– Bannerman Island

Take a tour with Storm King Adventure Tours and step onto Pollepel Island or what others call “Bannerman’s Island”. This is a unique and better way to not only see this marvel on the Hudson but also to experience a leisurely paddle across the Hudson River.

Once on the island, a Bannerman Castle Historian directs an amazing and memorable tour. This tour is a little different as guests are advised to bring a light lunch or snack that they can enjoy while taking in the stunning views of the Hudson River and surrounding area.

Want to know what a Tour of Bannerman Castle Island Offers?
Take a look at this article all about Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle

View from Ferry boat ride on Bannerman Castle Tour

– Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain State Park is a beautiful place to go kayaking. Hessian Lake is a popular destination for Hudson Valley kayaking, as it is a calm and peaceful body of water surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Hudson Valley residents, as well as, visitors enjoy kayaking here, especially first-time kayakers.

Bear Mountain State Park is a great destination for a day of Hudson Valley kayaking and other outdoor activities.

What there is to do at Bear Mountain State Park any Season of the Year

Lake Hessian at Bear Mountain. Things to do in Rockland County and the best Bear Mountain activities.

– Black Creek

Located in Ulster County, New Paltz Kayaking Tours visits Chodikee Lake, a lovely 63-acre lake on the outskirts of Highland. It is big enough for a group of 20 novice kayakers and canoeists to spend a couple of hours honing their strokes and steering moves without danger of collisions.

It is both fed and drained by Black Creek. The group meets at the Chodikee Lake boat launch, where the tour will begin and lasts between 1-2 hours.

– Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary

Located in Putnam County, this nature preserve offers a peaceful and beautiful spot for Hudson Valley kayaking. The calm waters and abundant wildlife make it a great place to explore. 

Access into Constitution Marsh from the Hudson River is available from Scenic Hudson’s Foundry Dock Park in the nearby village of Cold Spring. There is no public launch location for paddlers at the Audubon Center. 

If you wish to kayak at the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary, The Audubon Center offers educational programs and guided tours of the marsh, rather than go-at-it-yourself rentals.  If you already have some paddling experience, you can also access this area from Foundry Dock Park, near the Cold Spring Train Station.

Hudson River Expeditions operates a kayak rental at Foundry Dock Park, or you may launch your own vessel here.

Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

A person visiting Constitution March. This is one of the best things to do in Putnam County NY

– Croton Point Park

Located in Croton-on-Hudson, New York offers a variety of kayaking opportunities, from calm waters to more challenging rapids. At Croton Point Park, you can rent kayaks from Hudson River Recreation. They offer a variety of kayaks, including single and double kayaks, as well as stand-up paddleboards. 

According to their website, most of the boats in their rental fleet are Recreational Kayaks. They are stable “Sit-on-Top” style kayaks, with open tops that make it easy to enter and exit the boat.

They are great for first timers and beginners, families with children, and anyone looking for a fun, stress-free kayaking experience. They also offer kayak instruction. 

Croton Point Park is open daily from 7:00am to sunset. Overall, Croton Point Park is a beautiful and exciting spot for Hudson Valley kayaking. The variety of kayaking opportunities and stunning views make it a great place to paddle and explore the Hudson River.

Croton on Hudson in the Hudson Valley

– Delaware River

If you’re looking to kayak along the Delaware River and want to use a tour company, than Silver Canoe & Whitewater Rafting in Port Jervis is the company for you. Surround yourself by the Pocono Mountains and Catskill Mountains while kayaking.

Since Port Jervis is next to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, this makes for a great weekend getaway or day trip in the Hudson Valley.

The region is known for its stunning natural beauty, with forests, cliffs, and waterfalls, as well as a number of recreational activities, including kayaking, fishing, and hiking. The park is a popular destination for Hudson Valley kayaking and rafting.

In addition, the Upper Delaware River region is home to a number of small towns and villages, each with its own unique character and charm.

Hudson Valley Kayaking at sunset

– Esopus Creek

Located in Ulster County, the creek flows through the Catskill Mountains and into the Hudson River. The creek is known for its clear, cool water and its scenic beauty, with forests, cliffs, and waterfalls along its banks.

Kayaking on Esopus Creek is a popular activity for both beginner and experienced paddlers. The creek is generally calm and peaceful, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

If you have the time, kayaking to Esopus Bend Nature Preserve is a great way to spend the day. The preserve is located in lower Esopus about 12 miles from the town of Phoenicia, so it may take several hours to kayak there from that location.

While Esopus Island is located a short distance from the shore in the Hudson River, it is important to be prepared and to follow safety guidelines when kayaking, as the Hudson River can be unpredictable and can have strong currents at times. Esopus Island is a small and uninhabited island, with no facilities or amenities.

It is a popular destination for bird watching, as the island is home to a variety of bird species. There are also a number of hiking trails on the island, which offer the opportunity to explore the island’s natural beauty.

Cantine Falls are also located on the Esopus Creek. Visiting Cantine Falls offers the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the falls.

– Hudson Highlands State Park

Located in Putnam and Dutchess Counties, the Park Preserve protects a mosaic of special habitats from the estuarine shore of the Hudson River, through young deciduous forest, to the rocky ridges and summits towering above the surrounding area, providing a haven for many plants and animals just 50 miles north of New York City. 

The Hudson Highlands and Hudson River provide spectacular backdrops for the many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed here, such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and birding. This park offers beautiful views and a variety of kayaking opportunities. 

For visitors who wish to view the scenic park from the water, kayaks and canoes are available for rental at Hudson River Expeditions.

Hudson Valley Kayaking on the Hudson River

– Hudson River Estuary

The Hudson River Estuary is a beautiful and ecologically significant area in New York State. The Hudson estuary stretches 153 miles from Troy to New York Harbor.

Kayaking is a popular activity in the Hudson River Estuary, with a number of put-in and take-out points along the river’s shores. This waterway is more than a river – it is a tidal estuary, an arm of the sea where salty sea water meets fresh water running off the land.

– Kingsland Point Park

Hudson River Recreation offers a unique experience when it comes to kayaking. They offer sunset tours in various locations in the Hudson Valley. Some locations are Sleepy Hollow, Croton Point Park, Tarrytown Lakes, Rye Town Beach and Croton River, but the Sleepy Hollow Kayak tour is probably the most popular.

Offered from May through October, the outing includes a kayak, paddle, PFD and an experienced guide. The two-hour tour showcases the Tarrytown Lighthouse.

This lighthouse can be seen from one of the best towns in westcheter: Tarrytown

– Kingston Point Beach

 Located on the shores of the Hudson River in Kingston, this beach offers a sheltered spot for kayaking. The City of Kingston’s parks and recreation department offers kayaking tours of the Hudson River departing from Kingston Point BeachThey provide kayaks, life jackets, and paddles, plus an expert tour guide. 

Options include Kayaking 101 to learn basic maneuvers, the Good Morning Paddle, where you can check out the wild osprey, eagles, and turtles native to the Hudson, and Friday and Monday evening tours to watch the sunset. 

This is a great way to explore the area and learn about the history and wildlife of the Hudson River. Kingston Point Beach is open daily from 8:00am to sunset. 

– Lake Taghkanic

Located in Columbia County, Lake Taghkanic is a beautiful spot for kayaking. The calm waters and stunning scenery make it a popular destination for kayakers of all levels. According to, if you’re looking for a fun and easy paddling adventure, Lake Taghkanic is the place for you!

It’s a great spot for beginners or for those who want to take it easy, without the need for more advanced preparation like at Constitution Marsh or on the Hudson River. 

Hudson Valley kayaking on a lake

You can easily kayak around the lake in about an hour, and it’s a great place to bring kids or friends who are new to paddling. Visitors may bring their own kayak to enjoy on the lake.

Additionally, kayaks, canoes and paddleboats are available for rental from early May through mid-October. The park is open for general use year-round from sunrise to sunset.

Additional activities beyond Hudson Valley kayaking include hiking and biking, picnicking, fishing, hunting as well as ice fishing, cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter. 

– Long Dock Park

Located in Beacon, Hudson River Expeditions offers kayak rentals at Long Dock Park from July through mid-October. Long Dock Park is a public park on the east shore of the Hudson River. The park is situated on a former industrial site and features a number of recreational amenities.

Hudson Valley Kayaking at Long Dock Park can be a fun and enjoyable activity for people of all ages and abilities.

Hudson River view while on Ferry for Bannerman Castle Tour

– Minnewaska State Park Preserve

This beautiful park in Ulster County features numerous waterfalls, three crystalline sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, incising sheer cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views, clear streams cut into valleys, 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike, and simply enjoy. And all this within an hour and a half drive from New York City. 

Limited equipment rental is available on-site at the Lake Minnewanka boathouse on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore make sure to arrive first thing in the morning if you want to rent equipment.

– Mohonk Preserve

This nature preserve in Ulster County offers beautiful views and a variety of kayaking opportunities. Lake Mohonk is a half-mile long glacial lake surrounded by pristine forests and dramatic overlooks.

Hudson Valley Kayaking on Lake Mohonk is available from late may through mid-September. Kayak rentals are available through Mohonk Mountain house for guests 16 years of age or older. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Kayakers in the Hudson Valley

– Moodna Marsh

Storm King Adventure Tours is ideal for bird watchers and those who enjoy close observation of local wildlife. Kayaking at Moodna Marsh can be a great way to explore the marsh and observe its unique ecosystem.

The marsh is connected to the Moodna Creek, which flows into the Hudson River, and offers a variety of habitats for kayakers to explore, including shallow creeks, marshes, and open water.

You begin this wonderful tour by paddling north until arriving at a railroad trestle that is the area where the marsh and the river connect. The complete tour takes approximately 3 1/2 miles.

– Norrie Paddlesport Center

Kayak on the Hudson Valley with the largest experienced kayak outfitter in the area. Located in Statsburg, Norrie Point Paddlesport Center offers kayak tours and instructional programs.

Mills Mansion is adjacent to the Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park and together they comprise about 1,000 acres, including Esopus Island. The marina called the Norrie Boat Basin has a public kayak launch. The marina charges a fee for use of the boat launch including launching kayaks.

Kayaks ready to launch in the Hudson Valley

– Plum Point

Plum Point is a small peninsula located on the east shore of the Hudson River. It is situated in the town of New Windsor. There may be areas of the river that are more challenging for kayakers, such as strong currents or heavy boat traffic, so it is important to paddle with caution and respect the rules of the water.

– Roundout Creek

Roundout Creek is a small river that flows into the Hudson River near Kingston. Kayaking on Roundout Creek can be a great way to explore the natural beauty of the area and observe wildlife.

The creek is generally suitable for beginner and intermediate kayakers, although it can be more challenging at times due to its winding course and the presence of rocks and other obstacles. A Day Away Kayak Rentals is a great company to consider when thinking about kayaking Roundout Creek.

– Saugerties Lighthouse

The Saugerties Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on the Hudson River. It is possible to kayak to the lighthouse, as it is located within a short distance of the shore.

The Saugerties Lighthouse is a popular destination for both Hudson Valley kayakers and boaters, as it is located in a beautiful and scenic area of the Hudson River. The lighthouse is open to the public and offers tours and educational programs, as well as a gift shop and a small museum.

If you’re interested in seeing the lighthouse by boat, I have written an article that may help: Cruising the Hudson Valley: Experience New York’s Scenic River

Saugerties Lighthouse

– Tivoli Bay

Tivoli Bays is just perfect for a kayak tour. Year-round it is possible to see deer, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, snow geese, swans, and all the waterfowl commonly found in marshlands.

What’s important is that The National Park Service granted a 30-mile area on the eastern shore of the Hudson River (including Tivoli) Historic Landmark Status. This is a wonderful place to take a water tour and is a delight for most bird watchers.

The Hudson River Research Reserve manages four freshwater tidal wetlands, including Tivoli Bays.

Planning your Hudson Valley Kayaking Adventure

When to Visit

The best time to visit the Hudson Valley for kayaking is during the summer months, when the weather is warm, and the water is calm. However, most venues can be busy during this time, so it is recommended to arrive early or visit on a weekday to avoid crowds.

The best kayak guides usually book up months in advance, so if you’re planning on using a touring company, it’s best to reserve the day early. While most companies end their season on or shortly after Labor Day, it’s always best to check each individual company’s website for exact information.

The view of the Hudson River from Washington Headquarters State Historic Site.

Choosing your Route

While The Hudson Valley is a really cool place to visit if you like being on the water, choosing your kayaking adventure could be overwhelming. 

The Hudson River stretches for 315 miles from the Adirondacks all the way down to New York Harbor, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. So first you have to decide if you want to kayak on the Hudson itself or on one of the smaller rivers and creeks that flow into it. 

The Hudson has some longer paddling options, including multi-day trips where you can camp along the way. There are also a bunch of state parks along the river that allow tent camping, like Hudson River Islands State Park which can only be accessed by boat.

If you want to plan your trip, Hudson River Greenway Waterway has a list of itineraries and places where you can park your kayak and lock it up.

Kayaking on the Hudson Valley
Yellow kayak on the Hudson River

According to Chronogram – If you’re looking to travel from one point on the river to another place downstream, but you want to start with something short, you can paddle from Beacon to Cold Spring, passing directly through Wind Gate, where the river passes between the great dome of Storm King Mountain to the west and the popular rock scramble of Breakneck Ridge to the east. 

This paddle will take you on a primeval path that glaciers once carved through the rock, forming these two present-day peaks. It’s also convenient, since each town has its own train station and nearby launch site.

Paddlers can park a car in Beacon, paddle south down the river for six or seven miles, disembark in Cold Spring, and then take the short train ride back to their car. 

If you don’t want to go it alone, Mid-Hudson Adirondack Mountain Club. All summer through mid-October, the outdoor adventure club meets up for group paddles, such as the weekly evening paddle on the Hudson River at spots between Beacon and Norrie Point.

Hudson Valley Kayaking Safety Tips

There are several safety tips to keep in mind when kayaking in the Hudson Valley:

  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times while on the water. This is a requirement by law and can save your life in the event of a capsizing or fall overboard.
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out. If the weather is adverse, such as high winds or thunderstorms, it may be best to postpone your trip.
  • Let someone know your plans. It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you are going, when you plan to return, and how to contact you in case of an emergency.
  • Know your limits. Don’t push yourself beyond your abilities. If you’re a beginner, start with calm, flat water and gradually progress to more challenging conditions.
Kayaking on the Hudson Valley
  • Stay within your skill level. Don’t attempt to navigate through rough or hazardous waters unless you are confident in your abilities.
  • Know the rules of the river. Follow any posted regulations or laws, such as speed limits and right-of-way rules, to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the water.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other boats, bridges, rocks, and other hazards that may be in your path.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy a fun and safe Hudson Valley kayaking trip.

Kayaking Etiquette & Rules

Kayaking often means sharing the waterways with a variety of other water sports enthusiasts. You can help ensure that everyone has a great experience by adhering to these simple rules of kayaking etiquette.

  • When kayaking in waterways with motorized watercraft, keep to the shallower areas of the waterway to allow safe passage of larger motorized craft.
  • When kayaking with a group, kayakers should travel in a single file line rather than side by side to avoid blocking the waterway for other kayakers and watercraft.
  • Take care when entering and exiting the water to ensure that your watercraft and gear are not blocking others from entering or exiting at the same location.
Kayaks at a Hudson Valley Kayak tour location
  • Be mindful of boisterous activity, or shouting. Noise travels a great distance over water and may disturb the local wildlife, and other boaters.
  • Make sure that all gear is properly secured in waterproof bags and preferably attached to your person so that you are able to easily locate and retrieve your items should your kayak be overturned.
  • Practice good “Leave No Trace” principles by ensuring that everything that is carried into the waterways and parks, is carried back out with you when you leave.

Kayaking Equipment

If you’re planning on purchasing kayaking equipment instead of renting, make sure to do your research as kayak sales increase significantly in the spring and you may not be able to find what you need due to supply shortages. When kayaking in the Hudson Valley, it’s a good idea to bring the following equipment:

  • A properly fitting personal flotation device (PFD). It’s required by law to have a PFD on board, and it’s an essential safety item in case of capsizing or falling out of the kayak.
  • The right kayak and paddle for the type of water you will be paddling in. Make sure you have a paddle that is the right size and shape for your kayak and paddling style.
  • A spray skirt. If you’ll be kayaking on choppy water or in cold weather, a spray skirt can help keep you dry and warm.
  • A whistle. It’s a good idea to have a whistle on hand in case of emergencies and for safety reasons.
  • Sun protection. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • A first aid kit. It’s always a good idea to have a small first aid kit with you in case of minor injuries.
  • A map and compass. If you’ll be venturing away from familiar waters, it’s a good idea to bring a map and compass to help you navigate.
  • Food and water. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized during your paddling trip.
  • A dry bag. A dry bag can help keep your belongings dry and protected in case of wet conditions.

It’s also a good idea to dress in layers and bring appropriate clothing for the weather, as well as a change of clothes in case you get wet.

Kayaking in the Hudson Valley offers a truly unique and exciting adventure that allows the perfect way for you to explore the natural beauty of the region up close. From peaceful lakes to rushing rivers, there are endless opportunities to experience the stunning landscapes and natural wildlife of the Hudson Valley from the water. 

To make the most of your Hudson Valley kayaking trip, it’s important to research and plan carefully, including choosing a reputable company for rentals, tours, or lessons, and taking necessary precautions for safety. By following these tips and bringing the right equipment, you’ll be well prepared for an unforgettable kayaking adventure in the Hudson Valley. 

So don’t wait any longer – start planning your own kayaking adventure in this beautiful region today!

More Things to do Outdoors in the Hudson Valley:

Spend an Unforgettable Day at Bear Mountain State Park

The Ultimate List of Activities to do during a Hudson Valley Summer

Instagram-Worthy Hudson Valley Locations that will make your followers envious

Until the Next Adventure…

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