Kayak Pittsburgh FAQ

When does the 2017 season start?
The 2017 season starts Saturday, May 6, 2017. 

Can anyone go kayaking?
Typically, anyone ages 3+ can go kayaking. However, some restrictions apply:

  • Age 3 (or 35 lbs) to 12 – Must be in a tandem kayak with a parent or guardian, and parent or guardian must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form for each child.
  • Age 13-15 – May be in a solo kayak, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian on the water. Must also have parent or guardian sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form.
  • Age 16-17 – May be in a solo kayak on water alone, but parent or guardian must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form.
  • Age 18+ – Must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form.

Weight Requirements

  • Minimum weight requirement is 35 pounds.
  • Maximum weight limit is 325 pounds for solo kayaks and 575 pounds for tandem kayaks.

Can anyone go Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
You must be 16 years or older to go stand up paddle boarding. However, some restriction may apply:

  • Age 16-17 – May go out on a stand up paddle board on the water alone, but parent or guardian must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form.
  • Age 18+ – Must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form.

What if I’ve never gone kayaking before?
Flat-water Kayaking is perfect for beginners as well as advanced paddlers. It is easy to learn and after a few minutes of instruction from our staff, you will be equipped to head out onto the river and enjoy the city from a whole new vantage point.

Can I make a reservation?
We take reservations for groups of 10 or more. We are very flexible with reservation times Monday – Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, we can only accept reservations at 10:00 AM depending on availability of the boats. Reservations can be made with a $50 deposit and by calling your favorite Kayak Pittsburgh location and speaking with a supervisor!

Are there lockers/storage available for storing items?
There are lockers available for you to store your things free of charge and at your own risk. There is also an option to pay $1 per hour to rent a lock for the lockers.

Do I have to be a Venture Outdoors member to rent at Kayak Pittsburgh?
No, you don’t have to be a Venture Outdoors member to kayak, but you’ll help support our mission AND save on kayaking rental if you are a member!

Venture Outdoors Memberships start at only $15 a year and include $5 off the first hour of kayaking. Members who give $75 or more a year also receive one free 1-hour rental voucher for Kayak Pittsburgh; Members at $125 and higher receive two free 1-hour rental vouchers.

Better yet, when you become a Venture Outdoors Member at either Kayak Pittsburgh location at the Individual or higher level you’ll receive one free 1-hour rental voucher! (In addition to aforementioned level-related vouchers.)

All current Members are eligible to receive a 12% discount when buying a Kayak Pittsburgh season pass. Sign up for Membership or to learn more here.

Do you offer Season Passes?
Yes! Season Passes are available to buy here. Current Venture Outdoors Members are eligible to receive a 12% discount on season passes, please email membership@ventureoutdoors.org for more information.

Is kayaking physically strenuous?

Kayaking is like riding a bike; you can get in a great workout or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

What should I wear?
Whatever you’re comfortable in! While you should not expect to get excessively wet, your paddle will drip a bit as you move along the water. We don’t recommend wearing jeans. Non-cotton materials are the most comfortable and will dry the quickest!  Layers are usually best – be prepared for direct sunlight or a cool breeze. All boaters must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times. We recommend not wearing clothing that is excessively bulky. We also recommend that you wear shoes that will stay on your feet, whether it is a tennis shoe or a sandal with straps around your ankle.

How long can I paddle?
Our minimum rental is one hour. Kayaks can be rented for additional 1/2 hours – stay out as long as you like as long as you return by 8:00 PM!

Do I need to sign anything?
Yes. All participants must sign an Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form before paddling. Those under age 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the Acknowledgement & Assumption of Risk Form for them. Download and print the form here.

Weather Conditions
We love our kayakers and your safety is our highest concern! We closely monitor weather and river conditions, including river flow. River flow is measured in cubic feet per second and its one of the key indicators of river conditions. We follow a standard rule of 27kcfs or 27 thousands of cubic feet per second. This means we do not allow kayakers in the water when the flow is above 27kcfs. We use a hydrograph provided by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS)andNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help us make this call. Check out the following link to view a hydrograph for part of the Allegheny River: http://ow.ly/OWmOF. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for minute to minute weather updates. 

Where Can I Park?
There is a free parking lot located at the Boathouse in North Park. For North Shore parking, click here for some options.

Rules of the River (courtesy of the Safe Boating Council

  • Wear your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times.
  • No alcohol is permitted while utilizing Kayak Pittsburgh boats. NO exceptions!
  • All other boats on the water have the right-of-way.
  • Large shipping and commercial vessels are restricted in their ability to maneuver and will not change their course for you – stay out of their way.
  • Always assume other boats cannot see you.
  • Tugs often tow objects on a long submerged line that is difficult to see.
  • Avoid cargo loading docks – if boats are moored at a dock, stay away.
  • Never tie up to a buoy.
  • At least five or more short blasts from a vessel’s whistle means “danger.” Stay away from any commercial vessel that blows this signal.
  • If a storm is near, head for the nearest shore. Beach your boat and find shelter on the downwind (leeward) side of the land.
  • Stay at least ten feet away from strainers, bridge abutments, dams and locks and anything else that is stationary in the water.
  • Always be alert for floating or submerged debris.
  • Be aware that if you cross the river, you will have to cross back, and it is difficult to maneuver in the currents.
  • Pass other boats on the port (left) side – never attempt to cross the path of an oncoming boat.
  • Do not paddle into marinas or River Rescue safety zone unless invited.
  • Obey all instruction from on-water River Rescue patrols and the Coast Guard.
  • Never tie a rope to yourself or to another paddler, especially a child.
  • If you collide with an obstruction, lean toward it.
  • Do not dock your kayak on the landing by Heinz Field. This is the ramp that The Just Ducky tours use to enter and exit the water. Docking on this ramp could be dangerous to you and to the people on the tour.
  • HAVE FUN, and let our friendly Kayak Pittsburgh staff know if you have any questions.