The biggest and most exciting phenomenon in our region is the growth of recreational Kayaking! The REVOLUTION in kayak boating in the region has come quickly and mostly due to the presence of the COAL RIVER WATER TRIAL. Well marked trails, heavily promoted and the availability of over 50,000 Trail brochures with full maps distributed at over 15 state wide visitor centers and the Turnpikes Tamarack have spread the word. Over 200 information signs are located throughout the trails to help visitors find the access points; learn about our history and direct travelers to the rivers.
Kayaking has brought new people to the rivers and when they come they become river keepers who help the Coal River Group clean up and maintain the rivers. It’s a win-win situation and the benefactors are the WV citizens who are beginning to reap the economic rewards that new tourist and fishermen are bringing to the region.
Kayaks come in all sizes and shapes. One can spend $250 at Walmart for a simple rig or plunk down $1,500 or more at WV Outdoors for the latest Angler fishing Kayak. However before you buy if you are among the few that have not purchased one here’s a few tips.
- Consider an Ocean style sit on top Kayak for comfort and safety. If you want to try one out the Coal River Group “Kayak Rental service” has a fleet of the sit on Kayaks for rent. The open style and wide seating offers stability and comfort for the paddler. They are also very dog and child friendly.
- The Coal Rivers are not Whitewater Rivers so the traditional rounded hull found on Whitewater craft is neither recommended nor necessary. It is important if you are flatwater paddling to buy a kayak with a strong elongated keel. The Keel helps keep the boat moving forward as you make your paddle strokes. No need for designs that offer roll capability or weather tight wraps as the rivers are mostly shallow and if you roll over just stand up and get back in your boat.
- Buy the best seat you can afford. Long slow flatwater trips are just that- long and slow so a comfortable seat with and adjustable back rest can be the key to enjoying every trip regardless of water conditions.
- Storage areas that include tie downs are important as are drywells for valuables. Boats get wet and paddlers get wet so tie it down and keep your phone in a floatable dry bag.
- Buy a boat that fits your weight and height. In the store put it on the floor and try it out for size. Also weight is important. If you need to lift the boat to a car top carrier or carry your boat down a long path weight is a major factor. Does it have a hand hold built into the hall and does it have a good grip built into the front and back for carrying and lifting?
- Buy the best PFD you can afford. One that allows freedom of arm movements while you paddle. For small kids buy a PFD with a crotch strap and yes is your dog’s PFD should have a lift handle!