The city of three-rivers is paddleboard paradise, but a first-time paddler standing at Point State Park, the junction of the three major rivers, might feel differently. In the downtown areas, the rivers are wide with concrete borders that create turbulence that is uncomfortable for beginners. Additionally, commercial and recreational boating is a formidable challenge for peaceful, non-motorized water travel. So where can you go for a safe, friendly, and memorable first SUP session? Here are three options for you!
3. Allegheny Islands State Park near Oakmont, PA
Distance From Downtown: 12-miles
Highlights: Isolated beaches, short proximity to the city for after-work fun
The Allegheny Islands are located on the Allegheny River near the quaint borough of Oakmont, PA. This protected island chain creates a serene side-channel with very gentle current that is ideal for standup paddleboarding. The myriad of islands, some with beautiful sand beaches, are perfect for a day-trip of exploration.
2. Connoquenessing Creek – Lawrence County
Distance From Downtown: 25-miles
Highlights: Beginner friendly whitewater and surfing
Connoquenessing Creek, known by locals as “The Connie,” offers first time paddlers a wide range of options for paddleboarding on moving water. There are multiple sections in close proximity to Cranberry Township and easy access from downtown Pittsburgh on route 79. Paddlers can explore sections of pools, riffles, and the added challenge of class I to III whitewater along its length from Zelienople to the confluence with the Beaver River near Ellwood City. For those looking to surf standing river waves near the burgh, the Connie provides a perfect destination.
1. Lake Arthur, Moraine State Park
Distance From Downtown: 40 – miles
Highlights: Calm, clean water, birding, wildlife
Our number 1 destination for beginner SUP paddlers in Pittsburgh is Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. Located conveniently along route 422 and route 79, Lake Arthur is an easy drive for anyone from Cranberry, Pittsburgh, or Butler. Horsepower limitations keep boat traffic in check and the lake’s countless sheltered bays stay calm and placid even on windy days. A labyrinth of coves, bays, and wooded shorelines make this lake a hotspot for wildlife viewing and birding.