10 Great River Paddle Adventures on the East Coast
The water is white and rushing.
Flowing quickly like the wind, the trees graze by in a flash of green and brown.
And there you are.
Standing proudly atop your board. Smiling.
This is the first time you have decided to stand on an inflatable board while navigating a moving river and you are awash with delight as the momentum of the water propels you forward.
This new activity is flowing, fun, and exhilarating. It’s a whole new take on SUP and you’re glad you finally decided to give it a try.
But as all things tend to do, it ends. And as you sit in your vehicle, rehydrating, trying to shake off the leftover buzz as the adrenaline begins to fade, you’re left wondering, where else can I experience these thrills? What other companies offer this opportunity?
You remember then, that you are a member of Perfect Paddles- the world’s largest collection of SUP activities, locations, shops, outfitters, and gear. And you smile.
You know, you will always have a trusted resource to fall back onto, in order to keep the flow of energy alive.
Because we provide full lists of whatever activity you seek to do on a SUP. Like this one.
And this time we are covering: 10 Great River Paddle Adventures on the East Coast.
So, let’s get into it and keep that fun-filled adrenaline flowing!
Northeast Whitewater (Shirley Mills, Maine)
Located in the northern part of the country in Maine, Northeast Whitewater is a hidden gem of an outfitter offering a variety of water activities for anyone interested in paddling on a lake or down a winding river.
While not the most challenging trip, what this company lacks in action they more than makeup for it in scenery and fun. Located on the Kennebec River as well as other locations on the Penobscot, Canada Falls, Dead River, and Seboomok, paddlers are greeted with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the calmer sides of the river as they paddle gently underneath the lush, green forests, spotting bald eagles and other creatures rummaging along the shore.
Perfect Paddles recommends spending an afternoon with Northeast Whitewater if you are wanting to experience river paddling in a calmer setting. But, for those who want to push the boundaries of their comfort zones, then be sure to ask about their whitewater raft trips as well, where experienced guides take groups down fast-moving rapids tunneling through rocks and splashing water. It’s a blast for your family and friends!
Northeast Whitewater covers all the bases, which is a major reason why they land on our list of must-experience River Adventures.
Black Hall Outfitters (Old Lyme, CT)
Located on Black Hall River, the aptly named Black Hall Outfitters is a great place to check out, rent, or buy a SUP as well as a kayak in Connecticut.
While not offering guided tours, other than a sunset paddle, their rental deals and of course their location more than makes up for it. While in town, be sure to check out one of their rental boards and make your way down Black Hall River.
The slow-moving water will help you get acquainted with the board and paddling atmosphere before reaching the tight bridged area where the current runs underneath an old bridge. If you feel confident on the board, test yourself by shooting underneath the bridge while dodging the rocks poking through the water. Escape unscathed and revel in the completion of your test as you laugh underneath a bright sun surrounded by trees and its inhabitants.
The best part is, if you fall in love with the sport, they have a fully-loaded retail shop with plenty of boards to choose from, purchase, take home and go back out again at your own convenience. This is a great place to get used to paddling a river so that you may test yourself on fast-paced currents in other locations!
Main Stream Canoe and Kayak/SUP (New Hartford, CT)
One of the most interesting River SUP Adventures in the Northeast has to be at Main Stream Canoe and Kayak/SUP. Offering self-guided tours to paddlers from around the area, they give you the freedom to go as slow or as fast as you please!
While having some beginner foundations is a good idea before heading out on one of their self-guided trips, paddlers have a choice of either going on the Upper River or the Lower River. The best part is the convenience of both trips- Upper Farmington River rides conveniently end at our store location on Route 44 in New Hartford, and their similarly easy Lower Farmington River trip is accessed by van shuttle and boat delivery to nearby Avon and Simsbury. Both sound fun and convenient!
But for the experienced ones be sure to check out the Upper River Course spanning 6, 8, 10, and 12-miles. This section of the river requires a bit more skill as it involves class 1 or class 2 rapids depending on water flow.
If that sounds like your idea of a good time, as much as it does to us, then be sure to contact Main Stream to get out there and start having some fun on easy rapids before venturing into higher classes!
Manhattan Kayak (New York, NY)
New York City has so much to offer visitors that it can be easy to overlook outdoor activities as an option to experience.
Good thing then, that you’re reading this Perfect Paddles list on River Adventures to participate in. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know about Manhattan Kayak and their guided trips through the Hudson River.
These trips are different from our previous outfitters in that they do not involve whitewater to propel you through the water. Instead, you can expect to paddle through the famous Hudson River, while at the same time seeing the impressive skyline and historic sites like the Statue of Liberty.
Ranging from beginner trips to advanced and even elite, Manhattan Kayak offers a wide range of adventures to participate in. Perfect Paddles recommends their Advanced Trip to the Statue of Liberty. Covering 15 miles in total, which a short stop and picture in front of the famous statue, this trip is both exciting and arduous.
But if you are an advanced paddler and really want to push your boundaries, be sure to check out their Elite Manhattan Circumnavigation Trip. Spanning 7 to 9 hours of paddling, this trip is for those only in the best shape and with plenty of experience. If that’s you, then give it a go!
No matter your skill level, Manhattan Kayak is a great place to check out in the big city!
Flatwater Paddle Co. (Ringwood, NJ)
Located in Ringwood, NJ, Flatwater Paddle Co. is the place to check out if you sway towards the chill side of life.
Instead of the pulse-pounding whitewater trips, or the arduous miles paddled around Manhattan, paddlers can expect a more laid-back atmosphere where they can either take a beginner lesson or rent a board of their own to take on the calm Bass River.
Spending an afternoon with Flatwater is a great way to get the entire family involved and having fun on the water. Or as they state on their website, “This serene oasis is complete with hiking trails and campgrounds as well as a recreational area, grills and picnic tables, a beach for swimming and so much more for you, your friends and family to enjoy!”
We like to keep things balanced here at Perfect Paddles, so while we may feel the need for excitement on the river most days, we also like to promote a more relaxed time as well. For that kind of atmosphere, Flatwater Paddle Co. is the way to go!
Wilderness Voyageurs (Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
Our next stop is a place called Wilderness Voyageurs where they utilize the fun-filled river located in Ohiopyle State Park.
Much like our previous outfitter, Wilderness Voyageurs also offer adventurers options in white water rafting and SUP but in addition, they also offer kayaking and biking. Truly, they have everything you need for a fun afternoon!
Regarding SUP, Wilderness has options for Beginner Lessons, Tours, and Private Lessons. If you have never stepped foot on a SUP board before, the obvious choice is obvious for a reason- get the foundations of how to SUP before heading out on a tour.
But, if you are semi-experienced and want to see what it is like to paddle down a swift-moving current, then a tour is the choice for you!
Moving down a class 1 or class 2 river, the tour spans 2 hours and you should be prepared to get wet! While this may sound intimidating, there is no immediate danger and as long as you can swim, you will be fine! And more than likely you will leave the water with a few smiles on your face.
Wilderness Voyageurs is a great choice of outfitter in the northeast if you are looking for a river adventure that doesn’t push the boundaries or your skill level too far. It’s a great way to get your feet wet! (literally and metaphorically)
Potomac Paddlesports (Maryland)
Potomac Paddlesports, located outside of Washington D.C. is a fan favorite in the area for their high-quality instruction and fun-filled environment.
For those unaware, the Potomac River is famous for its historical significance as a shipping lane during the beginning of the country’s creation, and for being one of the deepest rivers in the country, with a bottom measuring up to 107 ft in some sections!
And, for those who don’t know this as well, it’s a great place to get on a SUP and have some fun!
Paddlers will have the opportunity to traverse up to class 2 whitewater which is moderate on the scale- meaning swift-moving currents, some obstructions, and a ton of smiles as you paddle your way through the navigation process.
Instructors and guides will of course be by your side to make sure you are ok, but at Potomac Paddlesports, be prepared to conquer some quick water while paddling down a historic part of the country!
Paddlestroke SUP (Washington DC)
Another favorite in the area outside DC is a place called Paddlestoke SUP.
Owned and operated by Greg Miller, a waterman for over 30 years, Greg is one of the first-ever Level 3 River SUP Certified Instructors by the American Canoe Association. He also was one of the pioneers of SUP in the area, starting Paddlestroke SUP in 2010. And on top of all this, he was the first stand up paddleboarder to run the whitewater on the Potomac River! Oh, and he’s also swiftwater rescue certified by the Whitewater Rescue Institute.
Phew! That’s quite a resume.
So what does all that mean? It means if you are a paddler who wants to take on an above class 2 whitewater section of the Potomac River, going out with Greg is your best bet!
And on top of just making your way down the intense currents, Greg and his team also offer River surfing as well! As they state on their website, “Stand up paddle surfing on the Potomac River near Washington, DC is exploding, with more stand up paddlers on the river now than ever before, and Paddlestroke SUP was there since day one. We have surfed countless hours at all of the popular spots like Maryland Chute, Virginia Chute, Rocky Island, and Offut Wave. And we know a few secret spots, as well!”
As you may have already guessed, stand up paddle surfing is a ton of fun and a great way to start surfing if you are nowhere near an ocean.
Get out there with Greg and conquer the Potomac!
Penguin Paddling (Occoquan Historic District, VA)
The area where Penguin Paddling is located is best known for the historic region dating back to the 1600’s. Which is really cool! But what’s even better is taking time to paddle while you are there seeing the sites.
Which is what this great outfitter offers visitors. After spending time waling through the historic town, checking out the plaques and other old buildings, be sure to break up the monotony with a nice paddle on Occoquan River!
Much like our previous outfitter, Penguin Paddling is a great place for the entire family to get on the water no matter the age or skill level. Which is why it is a great supplement to any vacation.
Perfect Paddles recommends checking out their guided Occoquan River Tour. Spanning 2 hours we will let Penguin describe their trip as they do on their website, “This paddle trip will leave the start point and take you pas the old Occoquan Mill Ruins, Occoquan Regional Park, and along a beautiful river scene packed with waterfowl, fish and other critters. While traveling along the waterfront of Old Town Occoquan, past the historically significant river crossing, you are guaranteed to see remnants of the past.”
Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
Which is why it makes our list of Great River Paddle Adventures in the Northeast.
Riverside Outfitters (Richmond, VA)
Ok, we are officially back into the realm of whitewater river paddling in the Northeast! Yes, fellow paddlers, it is time again for the adrenaline pumping to recommence.
And there is no better place to experience fun, whitewater river paddling than Riverside Outfitters in Richmond, Virginia!
For anyone looking for an adventure on a SUP, one quick glance on Riverside Outfitters website will quickly assure the paddler they are in the right place. Under the aptly named tab, “Adventures,” you will see options for an Eco-Tour and Whitewater Paddling.
Taking the obvious choice will lead you to the next page where they go on to explain their offering, “Join the latest river boating craze with RO’s expert guides on a thrilling instructional trip from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek (Class I-II whitewater). In this relatively easy whitewater section of the river, you will experience a fun, challenging paddleboarding workout among some of the prettiest urban wilderness in the U.S. Expert guides will provide plenty of paddleboarding instruction so that you not only have a great trip but learn skills that you can apply to future paddleboard outings as well.”
While not the most treacherous whitewater river paddling in the area, it is still extremely fun and a great way to get on the water for some excitement!
Venturing onto a river with a SUP can be an exciting endeavor.
The feel of the current, the challenge of trying to stay upright, using your paddle in a new way to keep your balance, it’s truly a brand new environment for any paddler.
But, as we all get more experience, we improve. And from that improvement new opportunities are sought after. And through these new opportunities, we grow. Which is why finding new adventures is a primary feature in the sport of SUP.
Without them, we would never grow.
And without growth, fun begins to fade.
So, it is our hope that through this guide and many more published on Perfect Paddles, that you will continue to seek adventure. To get outside. To gain new experiences and to continue to grow.
Because it’s incredibly rewarding. And that is what life itself is all about.