Kayak Launch Near Me: Raleigh's Five Top Spots To Launch A Kayak Or Canoe

kayak launch near me

kayak launch near me

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 12/6/2022

A great way to celebrate warm weather in the Raleigh area is to head to the nearest body of water and combine relaxing views with exercise.

Are you searching the internet for a kayak launch near me? You can launch your kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards in the parks, rivers, and lakes below.

1- Lake Raleigh

Kayaking in Lake Raleigh

Kayaking in Lake Raleigh

Lake Raleigh lies on the southern tip of North Carolina State University Centennial Campus, surrounded by a protected forest. The lake is an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for students, teachers, tech workers, and others. Featuring a fishing pier and boat ramp for non-motorized watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, this 75-acre lake is open to the public. There is a fun, nine-hole disc golf course near the boat ramp, and Raleigh's most striking architectural piece, James B. Hunt Jr. Library, is just a short walk away.

2- Lake Crabtree County Park

Kayaking in Lake Crabtree County Park

Kayaking in Lake Crabtree County Park

Since its opening in 1988, Lake Crabtree County Park has offered plenty of recreational activities to the residents of Wake County. It features nine miles of hiking and biking trails (especially popular among mountain bikers), a connection to the Town of Cary greenway system, and open play areas and fishing opportunities. Visitors can launch canoes or kayaks from a designated area on the 520-acre lake, which is also ideal for watersports.

You're likely to see bald eagles while making your way counter-clockwise around the lake; at least two nests have been documented there.

{Typically, from early May to mid-September, guests can rent sailboats, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for free on a first-come, first-served basis.}

3- Robertson Millpond Preserve

Kayaking in Robertson Millpond Preserve

Kayaking in Robertson Millpond Preserve

Robertson Millpond Preserve is an 85-acre nature refuge just east of Raleigh in the town of Wendell. Blackwater swamp is the only bald cypress habitat in the Raleigh area, making paddling through its forest-like setting a unique experience. Canoeists and kayakers are attracted to the preserve's 1.15-mile loop paddling trail, which bears more than 70 buoys during the busy season (mid-May through early Aug.). Those who wish to bring their kayak or canoe may do so for free at the parking area.

{Please note that the preserve is currently operating with off-season hours, open only on Saturdays. and Sundays from 8 am-sunset.}

The site does not have restrooms and drinking water; the swamp is 8-12 feet deep, and kayaking is the preferred method of recreation, but stand-up paddleboarding is also acceptable.

4- Neuse River Canoe Trail

Kayaking in Neuse River Canoe Trail

Kayaking in Neuse River Canoe Trail

From North Raleigh all the way to the Pamlico Sound, the Neuse River is the longest river in North Carolina. In addition to allowing kayakers, canoeists, and stand-up paddleboarders to enjoy the water, the City of Raleigh provides five access points along 17 miles of the Neuse River Canoe Trail. It is best suited to novices with some water experience because the city removed a dam at Milburnie Access Point in 2017, and the river now runs faster and more freely.

5- Harris Lake County Park

Kayaking in Harris Lake County Park

Kayaking in Harris Lake County Park

Harris Lake County Park is a 680-acre park on a peninsula of Harris Lake, located in the southeast corner of the county near Holly Springs. The park has amenities, including a fishing pier (plus a fishing pond that gets stocked with channel catfish once per month), over eight miles of mountain bike trails, picnic areas, five miles of dedicated jogging trails, and an 18-hole disc golf course. The park has no kayak rental facility, but you can launch cartop boats (canoes, kayaks, etc.) from the kayaking launch area without paying any fees.

Where To Go Kayaking and What to Look For in a Location

Where To Go Kayaking

Where To Go Kayaking

It doesn't matter if you live near a lake, river, pond, or ocean; one of the best things about kayaking is that there are so many beautiful places to explore. This is one of the sport's best features. One of the most important skills to master for kayaking is how to select a good paddling place. This is one of the most crucial talents to learn. If you know what to watch for and avoid, you can paddle without risk and ensure that the experience is enjoyable for everyone else. The perfect setting for kayaking offers protection from the wind and waves, a convenient point of access for launching and landing, many locations where one can readily access land, and a low volume of other boats.

Look for rivers that do not have a discernible current and bays and lakes that are peaceful. Even while it would be tempting to look for the most isolated spot imaginable, it's better to look in more crowded locations because there's a better chance that someone will be present to offer assistance if you need it. When it comes to being out on the water, there is a saying that "there is safety in numbers," which is one reason you mustn't paddle by yourself. You are entering a new world where you must protect yourself and the people you are swimming with by taking a sea kayaking course, which teaches you valuable exposed-water rescue skills. As a general rule, if you paddle in water that isn't protected from wind and waves and travel further from shore than you can comfortably swim, you are entering a new world. It would be best if you had an appreciation for how rapidly the weather may change and how volatile these surroundings can be, even though the ocean and vast lakes can sometimes be quite quiet and do offer a perfect environment for kayaking.

Recognize the Conditions of the Kayak Launch:

Recognize the Conditions of the Kayak Launch:

Recognize the Conditions of the Kayak Launch:

The port of entry is the first critical step in having a successful kayaking expedition. The rest of your trip may be successful or unsuccessful, depending on how well your launch goes. Consider the following factors as you are ready to put your kayak into the water so that you may select the most outstanding possible launch location.

1. Safety

Every single effort should be made with safety as the primary focus. Find out about the coastline's weather patterns, currents, and conditions at the launch point. This is especially important if offshore winds are possible, making it more challenging to return the way you came. Create a backup plan for getting out of the water based on what you've learned in case the currents or other factors dictate a different entry location.

Before choosing a paddling place, you should know your current ability level and vice versa. Invest in a kayak that has been intended to last a long time. The Pakayak utilizes designs that are also found in airplanes and underwater diving cameras, resulting in an experience that is unrivaled in its dependability. Consider things like the prevailing wind, waves, launch and landing places, boat traffic, and swimmer traffic, among other environmental considerations. You can learn more about the launch circumstances by speaking with locals, searching for trip documentation in online communities or more enormous databases, such as the Paddling Locations Map on paddling.com, and consulting with other paddlers.

Kayaking

Kayaking

2. Accessibility

Some put-in places are selectable based on whether or not you are even able to get to them. One of the most prevalent practices is launching a boat immediately off the shore or from a dock. A sufficient room to get ready and board your kayak is necessary for a good shore launch site. If you intend to launch from a busy location, you should think about how much room you will have to put in your boat, given the number of other people there and their ships.

Even if the dock or the coast is good, the parking situation is still something you need to think about. Can you drive up to the water's edge, or do you have to carry your kayak the whole way? If so, how far is it? Your boat's size, weight, and shape are all factors that might help establish the accessibility requirements it must meet. The Pakayak may be disassembled into its parts and stowed away in its zippered travel case with wheels for improved portability. This enables you to bring the Pakayak along on your future expeditions.

3. People

Are you interested in going on a peaceful and contemplative outing, or would you instead share the experience with other people who are excited about kayaking? Your expectations regarding the number of people who will be joining you on this excursion help you determine the best location from which to set off. If you are heading to a place that attracts many people, you should be prepared to share the launch site with others or time your launch to avoid the crowd.

In addition to this, be aware that there are swimmers in the area, and make every effort to maintain a safe distance from them. A good kayaker keeps their safety and the safety of people around them at the forefront of their mind.

kayaking

kayaking

4. Proximity

What kinds of things do you have planned for your outing? Are you interested in finding wild animals? Are you going to go fishing? Or are you planning to spend some time on the sea and get away from the hustle and bustle of life on land?

Include in your search for the best put-ins in your region all of the attributes you are looking for in a put-in location when you are looking for one. You can learn about the area's habitat and specific attractions, from the best fishing coves to adjacent islands, by consulting one of the many local nature guides or available resources. Ensure that your starting point is easily accessible and is located near the places you plan to see.

5. Make Contact With Paddlers In Kayaks

Who doesn't have an undying passion for the internet? These days, many launch locations have been documented on message boards and in local paddling clubs, and all it takes to find them is a short search that includes your location as one of the criteria. And because it is so easy to transport, the Pakayak allows you to discover new access points wherever you go. You can continue to find new put-ins and new routes by joining local or regional kayak groups on websites like Meetup and Facebook, where there are many groups to choose from. In the process, you can make new friends. If you are having problems locating an active group in your region, consider initiating your own. Many people, in general, will be thankful that you accomplished it.

kayaking

kayaking

6. Analyze the Resources of State and National Parks

Every state and many counties and communities within those states make available in-depth guides to the parks and other types of outdoor activities. Boat access is almost always available in some capacity at parks located along the shores of bodies of water like rivers, lakes, or seas.

Because more and more people are turning to technology to organize their activities, you won't have to hunt very hard to locate an interactive map that will let you search for parks based on the specific parameters you choose. For example, it's great that the California Department of Parks and Recreation allows you to search for boating and boat ramps. In addition, if you are still in the very preliminary stages of organizing your vacation, websites for national parks and forests can provide you with a wealth of further advice. How many of the 14 most incredible spots in the national forests to canoe and kayak have you already checked off your list?

7. Inquire of the Locals

Whether you are a visitor or a permanent resident of the area, the local outdoor gear shop employees will likely have some recommendations for launch sites. They will be more than pleased to share this information with you. When you are at the prospective location, start a conversation with some people there, and find out what information they have. In the same way, as with the conditions of the environment, the individuals who have a direct touch with the place are sometimes the most valuable resources.

8. Map it Out

Certain kayakers like to survey the surrounding area and plot out their route using good old-fashioned maps. Google Earth is a valuable tool for seeing different places from above or at the street level. In addition, if you are trying to plan around a specific period, you can use the ruler tool available on Google Earth to calculate the distance. After you have determined the overall proximity to the individual aspects of your kayaking excursion, you can use a map to determine the amount of time and distance required to complete the route.

kayaking

kayaking

9. Go Out and Find Your Adventure

There is no problem with venturing into the world and discovering your paths. If you take complete control of your kayaking excursion, you might find a put-in location that is even more ideal than you could have hoped. First, check that you have the most suitable kayak for the activity, then set out on your journey.

Always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to protect yourself. Always ensure that someone else knows where you are going and how many people are in your group whenever you are heading somewhere new. After that, you should go out and discover the world. When you have a kayak created for durability, performance but also for accessibility, and adventure, choosing the ideal place to launch from is as simple as it can be.

Frequently Asked Questions