Kayaking is a popular summer activity, and West Virginia state parks are a great place for you and your family to try it out. With their peaceful lakes, several parks offer a safe and welcoming environment for beginners to experience this fun activity for the first time.
While most kayaks are for one person, tandem kayaks for two let you and a family member enjoy the experience together. Kayaking also provides a different perspective for viewing wildlife, birds and aquatic wonders.
Several West Virginia state parks have lakes that are perfect for learning and enjoying this activity. Here are a few for you to consider.
North Bend State Park
North Bend State Park’s 305-acre lake is a great place to learn how to kayak. During June and October, introductory courses taught by park staff are available as part of the “Quest” program. The two-hour instructional course includes information on safety, balance and basic paddle strokes and a review of equipment. Class sizes are small with a one-to-six instructor-to-kayaker ratio. The cost of this affordable course includes all equipment. Call 304-643-2931 or visit www.northbendsp.com for more information and to make your reservation.
For those who’d like to go out on there own, rentals are available at North Bend Outfitters headquarters at the Cokeley Recreation Area between April and October. North Bend State Park is in Ritchie County near the town of Cairo.
Tygart Lake State Park
The 1,750-acre, 10-mile-long Tygart Lake sits alongside Tygart Lake State Park near Grafton in Taylor County. Tygart Lake is a tranquil area for kayaking with miles of shoreline offering abundant wildlife viewing opportunities. The best days for kayaking are Monday through Friday when motor-powered boating is light. Optimal nature viewing times are early mornings and the last two hours of daylight.
Tygart Lake rents one-person and tandem kayaks. The price includes lifejacket, paddle and instructions. Kayak rentals are available at the beach from Memorial through Labor Day weekends. Visit www.tygartlake.com or call 304-265-6148 for information.
Watoga State Park
Watoga Lake is an 11-acre man-made lake. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, the park rents paddle boats, row boats, canoes and kayaks. Watoga State Park is in Pocahontas County near Marlinton. Visit www.watoga.com or call 304-799-4087 for information.
Beech Fork State Park
Beech Fork Lake is a 720-acre reservoir, 13 miles long with 31 miles of shoreline, located in Wayne County and Cabell County just south of Huntington. Beech Fork State Park has pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, and row boats for rent from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Life jackets are required and provided. For hours and rates, visit www.beechforksp.com or call 304-528-5794.
Moncove Lake State Park
Moncove Lake offers 144 acres of flat water. Rowboats, kayaks, and paddle boats can be rented with life jackets provided from April through October. Visit www.moncovelakestatepark.com or call 304-772-3450 for information.
Tomlinson Run State Park
More than 33 acres of water in the form of various ponds and lakes offer excellent water-oriented activities. Tomlinson Run State Park, near Manchester in Hancock County, has boat docks where rental kayaks, row and paddleboats are offered Thursdays through Mondays. Visit www.tomlinsonrunsp.com or call 304-564-3651 for more information.
While visiting these parks for your kayak adventure, make sure to explore other outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking and special nature events scheduled through the spring and summer months. More information is available at www.wvstateparks.com.