Best time to visit Pittsburgh, PA

Kayaking in Pittsburgh, PA

A must-do in the city which lies at the junction of three rivers

Kayakers on the Allegheny River, facing Rachel Carson Bridge
See accommodations nearby

When in The City of Bridges, don't look for excuses not to go kayaking. Pittsburgh sits right at the confluence of three rivers and offers plenty of opportunities to have fun and sightsee while paddling. Even if you've never kayaked before, The Burgh is an excellent place to try and learn this easy and enjoyable sports. Choose any of the three premier kayaking locations—the North Shore in downtown Pittsburgh, Aspinwall Riverfront Park on the Allegheny River, or the North Park's lake.

The kayak rental season runs May through October. For your notice, the season could shrink due to inclement weather conditions. In most locations, you must pre-register to rent your kayak. Also, you might make use of season passes that provide access to any open kayak location.


Kayak Pittsburgh Downtown, formerly known as North Shore, is always dotted with vibrant yellow kayaks. The spot is extremely popular since it's located in the very heart of the city and allows you to paddle three rivers at the same time. Moreover, no experience is required. Most folks manage to master a kayak in 10 to 15 minutes. The highlights of this stunning water journey include breathtaking skylines visible from the Point, and also PNC Park, Heinz Field, and of course, countless bridges.

North Park

North Park is a favorite among the paddlers who prefer nature's serenity over the cityscapes. The park is tucked 14 mi (23 km) north of downtown Pittsburgh and offers relaxed kayaking across 65 ac (26 ha) lake. Just like with the North Shore, you don't need any experience to have a great time in a kayak on North Park Lake.

Aspinwall Riverfront Park

Another pop place to start your on-water adventures is Aspinwall Riverfront Park, 8 mi (13 km) north-east of the downtown upriver. Be careful, for this destination is located around a mile upstream from the Highland Park dam, dangerous for kayakers. To minimize any risks, paddlers are allowed to move only further upstream, away from the city. Remember that you're on a commercial river and be sure to travel closer to the shores.

For more details such as hours, rates, and other information, please refer to the "External Sources" section below.

Practical info

What are the best kayaking locations in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh offers three premier kayaking locations, including the North Shore, Aspinwall Riverfront Park, and North Park. In the North Shore, visitors can paddle three rivers and see stunning skylines. The North Park spans 65 acres and provides a calm kayaking experience. The Aspinwall Riverfront Park is eight miles off the city and offers a unique kayaking experience along the river. Each location provides a different perspective of the city, and all are worth a visit! Show more

When is the kayak rental season in Pittsburgh?

The rental season for kayaks spans from May till October in Pittsburgh. It's essential to note that weather conditions during spring and fall could shorten the season. Before kayaking, one needs to pre-register and even consider making use of season passes that provide access to any open kayaking locations and save some money. Show more

Is kayaking experience required to paddle in North Shore and North Park?

No. Visitors don't need kayaking experience to paddle in North Shore and North Park. The friendly staff and calm waters help most folks master a kayak in 10 to 15 minutes. So, it's a great chance for beginners or anyone who has never kayaked before to have a great time paddling at either of these locations. Show more

How far is North Park from downtown Pittsburgh?

Located 14 miles (23 km) north of downtown Pittsburgh, North Park is a bit far from other kayaking locations. However, visitors who enjoy nature's serenity more than cityscapes would find it worth the drive. The vast 65-acre lake provides a relaxed kayaking experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Show more

What precautions should kayakers take when paddling in the Aspinwall Riverfront Park?

Since Aspinwall Riverfront Park is situated around a mile upstream from the Highland Park dam, kayakers should take some precautions. To minimize risks, paddlers should only move upstream and in the opposite direction from the city. Also, it's necessary to stay closer to the shores because it's a commercial river busy with motorboats and barges. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: by Olha Savych