October 15, 2017
Think that it’s too late to get out on the water this year? Think again! Many paddlers love kayaking in the fall even more than the summer. Cooler temperatures and fall foliage create a beautiful ambience for a day of paddling this time of year.
If you do have plans to paddle this season, however, you should hold off on googling for beautiful places to kayak. Before planning any water activities, it’s important to brush up on the safety tips that will keep your river trip safe, warm, and relatively dry. That means always obeying the following paddling guidelines:
- Always wear a PFD. A PFD, or Personal Flotation Device, is a critical part of any kayaking trip. PFDs are your first line of defense during an emergency spill into the water. Even the best swimmers need to wear PFDs, just in case. (Pro-tip: If you find regular lifejackets particularly uncomfortable, you can purchase a kayaking specific life jacket!)
- Don’t try to push your skill level. You should never go kayaking in an area or environment that you are not comfortable with; for example, a beginner may not want to paddle in an area with a stronger current. (Another pro-tip: the ideal kayaking environment has protection from wind and waves, a good access point for launching and landing, lots of places to go ashore, and minimal motorized boat traffic.)
- Check your paddling forecast. While autumn is a beautiful season, weather can be unpredictable. If you have plans to go kayaking, make it a priority to check the forecast the day of your trip and to dress accordingly. By the way…
- Dress appropriately. It’s important to never wear cotton while paddling, as this material dries much too slowly to keep you comfortable after a paddle-related spill or splash. It’s also important to not trust a single layer of clothing with the job of protecting you from winter temperatures and chilly river water. A base layer, and insulating layer, and an outermost waterproof layer is the minimum dress recommendation for paddlers right now. Ultimately you’re better off overdressing and removing some layers of clothes than being too cold on the water! Having a change of clothes waiting for you at the end of your trip is also always a good idea – just in case.
- Stick to the shore. River traffic is always something to watch out for while paddling. Depending on the river you paddle on, there can be a variety of bigger boats passing by at any time. These boats always have the right of way, so avoiding them and paddling along the shoreline is a safety must.
- Always check on conditions ahead of time. Rough waves and overly chilly gusts of wind are telltale signs that it’s not a good day to go paddling. If you can, it’s also best to compare the speed of the river on paddling day versus its normal flow. If the river is running faster than normal, conditions may not be optimal for a paddle.
- Stay hydrated. Temperatures may not be as brutal as they were in the summer, but kayaking is still an activity that can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful. Bring a couple of water bottles on any river trip, and take breaks every 15 – 20 minutes to stay hydrated.
- Never paddle alone. Always head out onto the water with at least one friend, if not in a group! It’s important to stay with that friend or group at all times – kayaking is a very safe activity, but sometimes emergencies happen. Having a buddy with you will ensure that, should an accident occur, help is ready to pull you from the water.
For safe, warm, and dry river adventures this fall, keep these tips in mind!
Ready to hit the water? Visit our website today for more information on boat launches and marinas, paddling trips, and guidance on navigating locks and dams. We can’t wait for you to join us on the water and to explore the gorgeous kayaking areas near you this season!
October 2, 2017
Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau has completed a comprehensive, in-depth look at visitors to the region, including the counties of Fayette, Somerset, Westmoreland. This research area overlaps with much of the Mon River Valley.
September 30, 2017
The Mon River Towns are working with Cosmitto on social media outreach. Here is a recent presentation to the Mon River Valley Coalition.
September 28, 2017
An awesome boating event to try out touring kayaks and paddle boards on the Monongahela River.
September 20, 2017
Who doesn’t love a good farmers market? Fresh local produce and small business wares hold a special place in many of our hearts. And if there’s one thing Pennsylvania has plenty of, it’s farmers markets! Even better, these markets are hosted in scenic Pennsylvania river towns, many of which include beautiful places to hike.
Shopping and nature…that sounds like the perfect combination for a weekend trip! So before planning your next long drive into the great outdoors, hold off on typing “scenic hikes near me” into Google and consider visiting these lovely towns and farmers markets.
- Elizabeth (15 Miles From Pittsburgh) – The Elizabeth Homemade-Homegrown Market kicked off its 2017 season earlier this month, and will operate every second Saturday from June to October. Organized by the owner of local business Yogastyle Studio, the event has caught on thanks to the number of local craft makers and farm vendors. The market works with local nonprofit development groups and is a great place to find fresh produce, homemade one-of-a-kind jewelry, soap, and crafts. Our Recommendation: Elizabeth is a great daytime or weekend destination. Keep an eye on their farmers market on Facebook, and plan on taking some time to walk around this beautiful area. The market runs from 9am to 1pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to wander in Elizabeth’s busy and charming downtown. It features historic buildings and an authentic feel, not to mention a number of trails worth venturing onto. You’ll especially want to check out the Grand Theatre, built in 1902 as a Vaudeville House; today it’s one of the few remaining single screen movie theatres operating in the Mon Valley.
- Monongahela (17 Miles From Pittsburgh) – Named for the river it borders, this river town’s farmers market runs every Friday from June to October, in Chess Park, from 3-6pm. The beautiful market operates next to the park and runs into the heart of Monongahela Main Street District. Our Recommendation: Don’t settle for following this event on Facebook! Take a day off from work, make the quick drive south, and kick off your weekend with a dose of local beauty. Chess Park is absolutely worth taking a stroll through, before or after you shop. You’ll also want to explore Monongahela as a whole, which houses sites important to the Whiskey Rebellion as well as the local Underground Railroad. If you can, you’ll definitely want to check out an event at the Monongahela Aquatorium as well, as nothing compares to this unique riverside venue!
- Morgantown (75 Miles From Pittsburgh) – If you’re itching to venture out of Pennsylvania, Morgantown is a mere 75 miles away in West Virginia. While the town is quieter than usual in the summer – when most West Virginia University students head home – it still has plenty to offer visitors, including a farmer’s market that operates every Saturday from 8:30am to noon at Morgantown Market Place. Our Recommendation: Take an entire weekend to explore Morgantown. The area was once prime settlement territory, meaning it’s packed full of history. You can catch a glimpse of the area’s glass and coal heritage at the Morgantown Museum and in display cases at the Seneca Center. The area is also full of theaters, museums, parks, and eateries – plus a handful of microbreweries. If you’re the outdoors type, you won’t want to miss the chance to paddle on the nearby Cheat River or Big Sandy Creek, as both are beautiful places to kayak. Save some energy to hike the trails of Coopers Rock State Forest!
As you can see, these four towns offer a great combination of shopping and outdoor exploration. You’ll absolutely want to keep them on your list of places to visit, especially as you search for beautiful places to kayak, for scenic hikes near you, or for your next great farmers market find. Want to find out exactly what’s happening in these towns, as well as their sister Mon River Towns? Visit our website calendar anytime to find out what’s happening, and remember to save the date for your next adventure!