5 Least-Known Places to Kayak in the Hudson Valley


Hiking is perhaps the most popular outdoor activity in the Hudson Valley, and forest swimming the trendiest. But if you want to go out, enjoy beautiful scenery, exercise, and feel blissfully content afterwards, the best way to do this is from the cockpit of a kayak.

“The great thing about kayaking is that almost anyone can do it,” says Bill Garrison, owner of Mountain Valley Guides in Cornwall. “We have participants ranging from children all the way up to people in their 60s. Even if someone has never kayaked before, within the first 20 minutes they’ll get the hang of it.

What many participants also understand, without even trying, is that being on the water is just plain enjoyable. There is scientific data to back up this mental buoyancy. “Blue space,” which includes oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, canals, and waterfalls, is associated with physical benefits such as cleaner air, increased exposure to sunlight, and to the production of vitamin D, and increased physical activity. Moreover, it has a psychologically restorative effect, helping to reduce stress and induce a positive mood, more pronounced than green spaces.

There are dozens of places in our area to enjoy the benefits of paddling, from the Hudson River itself to lakes large and small, and a variety of tranquil creeks and tributaries. With the exception of a few residential areas where a permit is required for lake access or parking, those with their own watercraft can paddle for free.

Don’t have your own equipment? Sign up for a guided tour or rent everything you need from one of the rental companies listed below.

Places to Kayak in the Hudson Valley

There are dozens of places in our area to enjoy the benefits of paddling, from the Hudson River itself to the lakes and a variety of tranquil creeks and tributaries. (Photo: Fishkill Creek.)

Bill Garrison

Stockport Flats, Stottville – Columbia County

The northernmost site of the Hudson River Reservation, Stockport Flats is made up of nearly five miles of shoreline, marshes, islands, and peninsulas. It is also an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area and the site of several wetland research and monitoring projects.

The area is popular with locals, who often congregate at the accessible lookout, fish from the pier, or picnic on the lawn, but it rarely receives the traffic of better-known recreation areas, like Constitution Marsh in Cold Spring.

Drive to the end of Station Road to launch your boat into Stockport Creek, a large tributary of the Hudson. At Nutten Hook, pause to gaze at the remains of the Scott Ice House, the largest on the Hudson. You may also spot some of the many birds that hunt or nest along the creek and river, including bald eagles, pied-billed grebes, hen harriers and marsh wrens.

Queechy Lake, Canaan – Columbia County

Near the Berkshires border in Columbia County, you’ll find this body of water over 140 acres and 40 feet deep. Amoeba-shaped, tree-lined, and with a pretty view of the Taconics from the side of the street, Queechy Lake is just far enough away to look like a best-kept secret, but not so far away that you’ll think to be in the middle of nowhere.

Residents who live along its shores use it for motorboating, but you can safely kayak around the perimeter and through its coves. You might even spot turtles, ducks, and jumping rainbow trout that inhabit the lake, as well as the occasional great blue heron.

Drivers beware: the boat launch – only accessible to cartop boats (i.e. no trailers) – is located on a dirt road off Queechy Lake Drive with nests of -hen large enough to swallow a full set of luggage. To avoid damaging your vehicle, limit your speed. The town beach is for residents only, so respect loading and unloading at the boat launch.

Moodna Creek and Marsh, New Windsor – Orange County

Another great spot for wildlife viewing, Moodna Creek is wide, active, and full of scenic surprises, like views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Breakneck Ridge, and Storm King Mountain.

Parking is plentiful and launch is easy from Plum Point Park. Paddle south and under the railroad trestle to slide into the swamp. Although you will hear some traffic noise here, it is a fairly peaceful place to paddle. Look for a variety of swamp creatures including crabs, turtles and snowy egrets.

Be sure to check the tide report before heading to Moodna. The waters rise and fall with the Hudson River. At low tide some areas of the creek are too shallow to paddle.

Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area, Tivoli – Dutchess County

Tivoli Bays offers another swamp kayaking experience that feels secluded but not far from civilization. The swamp stretches for two miles along the east bank of the Hudson. It has two large inlets: North Bay, a freshwater intertidal marsh fed by Stony Creek, and South Bay, which is fed by the Saw Kill and has a shallow area where the mudflats rise above the water at low tide.

The best entry is off Kidd Lane at the canoe launch. Thrust through the water and pick up speed in the wider sections, then float gently through the narrower channels, with cattails and pickerelweed lining the edges. Avoid peak tide flooding, as the currents can present significant challenges, even for experienced kayakers.

Related: Plan a day trip to Tivoli

Taghkanic Lake, Ancram – Columbia County

If you’re a morning paddler, Lake Taghkanic, located in a popular state park, is for you. At 156 boat-free acres, it’s a serene place to float on the glass-like water and watch the ducks waddle from the shore and into the lake. The park is popular with families, who tend to head to the beach from late morning until afternoon.

You can rent a kayak here. Even if you bring your own boat, there is a small “sign up” fee (about $10). It’s worth watching the sunrise over the trees, tinging the water with rose. After paddling to shore, head up Route 15 to the West Taghkanic Diner, a renovated 1953 roadside restaurant that serves diner classics updated for modern palates (think French toast with French toast with fruit compote or a breakfast hash made with eggs, pastrami, bacon and pickled onions).

Kayak rentals and tour operators

  • A Day Away Kayak Rentals, Kingston

  • Atlantic Kayak Tours, Saugerties and Staatsburg

  • Hudson paddles, Hudson

  • Hudson River Expeditions, Beacon, Cold Spring

  • I paddle NY, Saugerties

  • Mountain Valley Guides, Cornwall

  • Kayaking in New Paltz, New Paltz

  • Screaming Eagle Outdoor Adventures, Athens, Catskill

  • Storm King Adventure Tours, Cornwall-on-Hudson

More outdoor news and travel


Comments are closed.