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Hopping on or in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard is a fun, easy and inexpensive way to get out to experience what Pennsylvania's waterways have to offer

With some basic equipment and a few minutes of preparation and instruction, paddlesports can be as safe as they are fun. 

Paddling is a “get wet” sport, so prepare as if you are going to get wet.

Learn how to paddle safely. You can take a classroom or online Boating Safety Education Course or try the online Paddling Sports Safety Course.Opens In A New Windo.


    • Wear your life jacket. 
    • Expect to get wet and dress properly. 
    • Be prepared to swim. If the water looks too hazardous to swim in, don’t go paddling.
    • If you capsize, hold on to your boat, unless it presents a life-threatening situation. 
    • Scout ahead whenever possible. Know the river/waterbody. 
    • Be prepared for the weather. Get a forecast before you go. 
    • Have a float plan, review it with the group and leave it with someone in case of an emergency.
    • Wear wading shoes or tennis shoes with wool, polypropylene, pile, or neoprene socks. 
    • Never take your boat over a low-head dam. Carry (portage) your boat around water you are uncertain of. • Never boat alone.  
    • Keep painter lines (ropes tied to the bow) and any other ropes coiled and secured. • Never tie a rope to yourself or to another paddler, especially a child. 
    • Kneel to increase your stability before entering rougher water, like a rapid. 
    • If you collide with an obstruction, lean toward it. 
    • Be sure to leave a float plan. 


While you should never go alone when you get out to enjoy paddlesports, the activity can be even more fun with a group. Planning and ensuring everyone along for the trip understands safety and etiquette ensures you will make the most enjoyable paddling experience. Here are some basic how-to's:

  1. Have a float plan, review it with the group and leave it with someone in case of an emergency.
  2. Everyone in the group should have the basic equipment for paddling.
  3. Unload quickly and keep launch area as clear as possible - because there are several vessels, without taking care, a group can overwhelm the resources of a small launch area and alienate paddlers not in your group
  4. Know the skill levels of the other paddlers, and paddle with the level of the lowest skilled paddler.
  5. More experienced paddlers take responsibility for watching for hazards and trail direction.
  6. As always, everyone should be familiar with the regulations for paddling on PA waters. 
  7. All are encouraged to wear a life jacket, and to know when it is a requirement.