Summer Fun in Westchester: Kayaking



Photo by John CLark

Kayaking on the Hudson River

You’re gliding through the water along the twisting current, dipping one oar cleanly into the water on your right, then pulling hard and repeating on your left. You’re a little bit out of breath, but it sure feels good. There’s something so much more satisfying about kayaking than, say, sailing—it’s all personal achievement and no polo shirts.

To find out where to get that feeling, we asked David Hellerstein, founder of the Kayakers Alliance of Larchmont and Mamaroneck (KALM; kayakthesound.tripod.com), and John Clark, program director of Hudson River Recreation (kayakhudson.com), both of whom have been kayaking our waters for more than a decade. Here are some of their favorite spots.

On the Sound:
Dog Beach, Larchmont
Hellerstein, a Larchmont resident, says this is the most popular “put-in” spot in the Larchmont area. “Larchmont Harbor has a lot of little inlets and wetlands, and there are nesting areas, nice homes to look at, rock formations.” The catch, he says, is the weather, which can change quickly. “You have to keep your wits about you.” Experience Level: Moderate

Harbor Island Park, Mamaroneck
Although there’s a fee during the season, there’s also a boat ramp, which makes launching a little easier. According to Hellerstein, Mamaroneck Harbor is a deep, glacial harbor—up to three-quarters of a mile long—which makes it a mellow spot “for the go-out-for-a-half-hour crowd.” He adds that it’s great for people with simple kayaks, and even for kids. Experience Level: Beginner

Glen Island Park, New Rochelle
A Westchester County-owned spot, you need a park pass during the season, but it’s the best place to start out a trip to City Island in the Bronx, or even Glen Cove on the other side of the Sound. “That’s a really nice paddle, but it’s a shipping lane. You’d have to be out of your mind unless you go with other people and lots of safety gear,” says Hellerstein. Experience Level: Expert

On the Hudson:
Eastview Reservoir, Tarrytown
The former reservoir system near the Saw Mill River isn’t open to the public, but Hudson River Recreation is allowed to bring lesson groups there. “It’s good for folks who want to enjoy the water at their own pace,” says Hudson River Recreation’s Clark. “It’s a freshwater ecosystem with birds and ducks and turtles.” Hudson River Recreation also offers kayak rentals starting at $20 per hour, three-hour lessons for $99, and guided tours beginning at $69. Experience Level: Beginner

Echo Canoe Launch, Croton-on-Hudson
Located on a Hudson tributary, kayaking here gives you those Palisades views without the waves, wind, and boat traffic. You can also fish as you paddle by Van Cortlandt Manor, and rumor has it that the area was once used as the setting for one of the old Tarzan movies. “There are some areas with some rocky cliffs,” Clark says. “You don’t feel like you’re paddling so close to civilization back there.” Experience Level: Beginner

Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson
Around the bend from Echo, the sandy-beach launch spot and protected bay make this park somewhat unusual, according to Clark. It is a county-owned park that provides sweeping views of the Palisades. On clear days, Clark says, you can even see Manhattan. But he warns: Kayakers “kind of need the ability to fall out and get back in.”  Experience Level: Moderate

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