Places To Kayak In Pittsburgh (10 mesmerizing places and tips)

Unlock the exhilarating world of kayaking in the vibrant city of Pittsburgh! Nestled among its scenic rivers and waterways, this urban oasis offers a playground of endless possibilities for water sports enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler seeking a thrilling adventure or a novice looking to dip your toes into the exciting world of kayaking, Pittsburgh boasts a diverse array of stunning locations that will leave you awestruck.

From breathtaking skylines to lush greenery, join us as we unveil the top places to kayak in Pittsburgh, where nature meets urban charm in perfect harmony.

Overview of Places To Kayak In Pittsburgh

With its three major rivers and numerous smaller streams, Pittsburgh is a kayaker’s paradise. Whether you’re an experienced paddler or a beginner looking to dip your toes in the water, there are plenty of places to kayak in Pittsburgh that offer stunning scenery and exhilarating thrills.

From the tranquil waters of Lake Arthur to the rushing rapids of the Youghiogheny River, this city has something to offer every type of kayaker.

So grab your paddle and get ready to explore the best Places To Kayak In Pittsburgh and the spots that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Why Scenic Drives Are A Great Way To Explore Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s Breathtaking Scenic Drives

Pittsburgh’s landscape is characterized by remarkable natural features and rich industrial heritage, which provide picturesque panoramic vistas.

Scenic drives offer the opportunity to witness the city’s evolution from the “Steel City” to a thriving modern metropolis.

As you drive along the winding roads or cross the city’s numerous bridges, you will be captivated by the views of lush valleys, rivers, and historic landmarks all merging into a unique cityscape.

Explore the City at Your Own Pace

Scenic drives allow you to explore Pittsburgh leisurely and according to your own preferences. You can plan your route around the city, focusing on neighbourhoods, parks, or other points of interest.

There’s no need to rush or adhere to a strict schedule you can take your time and fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Hidden Gems Await: Discover Off-the-Beaten-Path

Pittsburgh is filled with hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations that are waiting to be discovered.

Scenic drives offer the opportunity to uncover lesser-known places, such as the abandoned industrial sites of Carrie Furnaces or the colourful, eclectic streets of Randyland.

These unique spots showcase an alternative side of the city and offer endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.

Hassle-Free Sightseeing: Enjoy the City with Ease

By embarking on a scenic drive, you can enjoy the beauty of Pittsburgh without having to navigate through congested traffic and hunt for parking spaces.

You can easily avoid the bustling downtown area by sticking to scenic routes and still experiencing the best of the city.

All-Inclusive Scenic Drives: Ideal for All Travelers

Scenic drives are a perfect option for all groups of travellers, providing flexibility and a wide range of sightseeing options.

Families with young children, couples looking for romance, or solo travellers seeking solitude can all appreciate the stunning views and opportunities to connect with nature and history.

Fresh Air & Scenic Drives: Get Outside and Breathe

In a time when many are looking to escape indoor spaces, scenic drives offer a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air while maintaining a safe distance from others.

With numerous parks and viewpoints along the routes, you can take breaks to stretch your legs and soak in your surroundings.

Scenic Drives: Capture Lasting Memories with Photos

Scenic drives allow you to pause, take in the scenery, and capture memories through photos or simply through the experience itself.

With so many beautiful sights along the way, you’ll have a treasure trove of memories to cherish for years to come.

Scenic Drives: Capture Lasting Memories with Photos

Viewing Pittsburgh from the comfort of your vehicle provides a unique perspective of the city and its landmarks like Point State Park, Mount Washington, or the Cathedral of Learning.

As you drive, you can appreciate the architectural and historical intricacies that make the city so unique.

Leisurely Exploration: Relax and Unwind in the City

There’s something calming about embarking on a scenic drive. Leaving the bustling city life behind, taking to the open road, and experiencing Pittsburgh’s natural beauty and diverse neighbourhoods allow you to relax and recharge while still satisfying your wanderlust.

Budget-Friendly Sightseeing: Explore with Scenic Drives

Lastly, scenic drives are an affordable way to see Pittsburgh and its surroundings. There’s no need to spend a fortune on guided tours or expensive activities just grab a map, hop into your car, and embark on a thrilling adventure through one of America’s most beautiful cities.

10 kayaking places in Pittsburgh

1. Three Rivers Water Trail

The Three Rivers Water Trail is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in Pittsburgh. It offers stunning views of the city’s skyline and three major rivers: the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio.

With its diverse landscape and breathtaking views, a kayaking trip along the Three Rivers Water Trail is endlessly rewarding.

Stretching 18 miles across Pittsburgh, this vibrant water trail takes kayakers past iconic city landmarks, from PNC Park to the Carnegie Science Center.

It also offers unique access to three major rivers of Pennsylvania: the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio.

As you paddle under bridges or pause at one of the many scenic overlook spots, your journey will culminate in a memory of life on these waters that you won’t soon forget.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or novice outdoorsman, the Three Rivers Water Trail has something for all who are eager for an exciting excursion out on the water.

2. North Shore Riverfront Park

North Shore Riverfront Park is another great spot for kayaking in Pittsburgh. The park offers a calm and safe environment, making it an ideal place for beginners to learn how to kayak.

North Shore Riverfront Park offers an opportunity for kayakers of all skill levels to enjoy a tranquil environment.

The riverfront park is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Pittsburgh and provides many recreational activities like kayaking, walking trails, and picnicking along the shoreline.

The tranquil atmosphere is perfect for beginning kayakers, as it allows them to safely learn and hone their skills without the distractions of larger rivers.

Kayakers can also take in views of the city skyline as they paddle, making it a truly memorable experience. For those looking for a peaceful day spent outside on the water, there’s no better spot than North Shore Riverfront Park.

3. Moraine State Park

Moraine State Park is located about an hour north of Pittsburgh and offers a wide variety of water activities, including kayaking. The park has a 3,225-acre lake that is perfect for kayaking, with several launch points available.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Moraine State Park is a must-visit destination. Located about an hour north of Pittsburgh, this beautiful park offers a wide range of activities for all age groups.

A major draw for kayakers is the 3,225-acre lake; with several launch spots, adventurers can explore the surrounding wetlands and take in spectacular views from their boats.

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself on the waves or take an easier route and enjoy the tranquillity of gliding through nature, Moraine State Park will have something to offer every adventurer.

4. Youghiogheny River

The Youghiogheny River is located about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh and is a popular destination for kayakers. The river has a variety of rapids and calm stretches, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced kayakers.

The Youghiogheny River is an ideal destination for kayakers looking for a challenge. Just an hour away from Pittsburgh, this 124-mile river offers something for every level of experience.

There are blackwater sections that are tranquil and easygoing, with small rapids and low-lying shorelines perfect for beginners.

On the flip side, you can find whitewater sections with challenging class III rapids that will excite even veteran kayakers. Don’t wait another day to explore the wild landscapes of the Youghiogheny River.

5. Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park is another popular kayaking destination located about an hour and a half southeast of Pittsburgh. The park offers a variety of water activities, including kayaking on the Youghiogheny River.

Ohiopyle State Park is an outdoor paradise located an hour and a half southeast of Pittsburgh. This picturesque park offers a variety of activities, including kayaking on the Youghiogheny River.

Famous for its cascading waterfalls, rapids, and Class IV whitewater sections, the Youghiogheny River provides visitors with the perfect place to enjoy thrilling rides in a kayak or canoe.

No matter your skill level, there is a piece of the river that you can master so don’t miss out on this truly unique and unforgettable experience.

6. Conemaugh River Lake

Conemaugh River Lake is located about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh and is a popular spot for kayaking. The lake offers several launch points and plenty of scenic views.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, the Conemaugh River Lake provides an ideal setting for kayaking.

Just an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh, this lake boasts several launch points offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

It’s easy to spend an entire day out on its waters, enjoying the peacefulness as well as wildlife sightings.

Families find the lake safe for their little ones to explore in kayaks too, making it an ideal spot for outdoor recreation.

On days when the weather is kind, the Conemaugh River Lake has something to offer to everyone looking to have fun in its waters.

7. Keystone State Park

Keystone State Park is located about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh and offers a variety of water activities, including kayaking. The park has a large lake that is perfect for kayaking and other water sports.

Keystone State Park is the perfect place for a day trip from Pittsburgh. Spend time outdoors with family and friends, enjoying kayaking on the park’s large lake.

Whether you’re an experienced kayaker looking to take in the surroundings or a new paddler seeking guidance and instruction, Keystone State Park should be your destination of choice.

Enjoy all that nature has to offer with picturesque views, fresh air, and plenty of opportunities to explore.

With its convenient location near Pittsburgh and an abundance of recreational activities, make sure Keystone State Park is at the top of your summer fun list.

8. Allegheny Reservoir

The Allegheny Reservoir is located about two hours northeast of Pittsburgh and is a popular destination for kayaking. The reservoir is surrounded by the Allegheny National Forest and offers plenty of scenic views.

The Allegheny Reservoir is a stunning destination located just two hours away from Pittsburgh. Framed by the sprawling and lush Allegheny National Forest, it offers a picturesque and tranquil retreat for kayaking enthusiasts and outdoor lovers alike.

Whether you are looking to explore or simply relax and take in some breathtaking views, the Allegheny Reservoir has something for everyone.

For those looking to brave its waters, the reservoir provides many challenges and majestic sights. A visit here will be one of adventure and discovery that is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

9. Shenango River Lake

Shenango River Lake is located about an hour and a half northwest of Pittsburgh and is a popular spot for kayaking. The lake offers several launch points and plenty of scenic views.

Shenango River Lake is a popular day trip destination for outdoor enthusiasts living near Pittsburgh.

Boaters and kayakers are drawn to the lake’s stunning beauty and various launch points, providing an oasis of relaxation and exploration away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Fishermen seeking a spot to try their luck can also find comfort in its many coves, shorelines, and channels. Whether looking for adventure or tranquillity, this lake has plenty to offer with countless activities available all year round.

10. Lake Arthur

Lake Arthur is located about an hour north of Pittsburgh and is a popular destination for kayaking. The lake is surrounded by Moraine State Park and offers plenty of opportunities to explore the park’s natural beauty.

Lake Arthur, located just north of Pittsburgh, is a paradise for watersport enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The lake is situated within picturesque Moraine State Park, making it the perfect launchpad for explorations.

Whether you’re interested in a bit of kayaking across the water’s surface or an evening stroll between the park’s dense forests and glimmering hills, there’s something to discover at every turn.

It’s no wonder why Lake Arthur is one of the region’s most popular destinations; with fantastic outdoor recreation and plenty of natural beauty to explore, it’s an ideal spot for anyone who loves spending time in nature.

Tips for Safely Enjoying the Drive

Best Time to Visit

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with an abundance of great kayaking options. The best time to visit and enjoy the drive in Pittsburgh for kayaking purposes would be during the late spring to early fall months (May to October).

During this period, the weather is typically warm and comfortable, with average temperatures ranging between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Additionally, the water level and current conditions in the rivers and lakes surrounding Pittsburgh are usually at their best during this time frame, providing an enjoyable kayaking experience for both novices and experienced paddlers alike.

Preparing for the Kayaking


Before embarking on your kayaking excursion, it is vital to research the various waterways in the Pittsburgh area, their difficulty levels, and any potential hazards.

Popular kayaking spots in the city include the Allegheny River, Monongahela River, and Ohio River, as well as several local lakes and reservoirs.

Weather Forecast:

Keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure. Avoid going out during storms or periods of heavy rain, as this can lead to dangerous water conditions.

Physical Fitness:

Kayaking can be physically demanding, so it is essential to assess your fitness level before venturing out on the water. Engage in regular exercise and strength training to prepare your body for the potential challenges of kayaking.

Must-Have Supplies

Personal Flotation Device (PFD):

A life jacket or PFD is a critical safety requirement when kayaking. Ensure that the PFD is US Coast Guard-approved and fits properly.

Kayak and Paddle:

A suitable kayak is necessary for enjoying your Pittsburgh kayaking experience. Choose a kayak that matches your skill level, and do not forget to invest in a high-quality paddle.

Dry Bag:

A waterproof dry bag is essential for protecting your valuable belongings, such as your cell phone, wallet, and keys, from water damage.

Appropriate Clothing:

Wear quick-drying, moisture-wicking clothing that provides adequate sun protection. A hat or cap and sunglasses are also recommended.

First Aid Kit:

A small, portable first aid kit is a must-have in case of emergencies.

D. Kayaking Laws in Pittsburgh

Age Requirements:

In Pennsylvania, children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult when kayaking.


Kayaks must be registered with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission if used on Pennsylvania waters. You can purchase a registration online or at various agents throughout the state.

Whistle or Sound-producing Devices:

All kayakers are required to have a whistle or other sound-producing device onboard to signal for help in emergencies.

Alcohol Consumption:

Operating a kayak while under the influence of alcohol is illegal and punishable by law in Pittsburgh.

By following these tips and abiding by the local kayaking laws, you can safely enjoy the drive and kayaking opportunities that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned paddler, the city’s waterways promise a memorable and exciting experience. So grab your kayak, gear up, and hit the waters for an unforgettable adventure.


Kayaking in Pittsburgh is a great way for anyone to experience the city from a unique perspective. Explore the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers by day and marvel at the skyline by night.

No matter which route you take, you’ll be sure to get plenty of fresh air, scenic views, and perhaps even some wildlife sightings along the way.

Adding a healthy dose of exercise not to mention unbeatable photographs guaranteed to capture your adventures, Pittsburgh is proving time and time again as an excellent destination for partaking in kayaking excursions.