It’s a 90 minute drive outside of Pittsburgh, nestled between the Monongahela River and Cheat River. “It” being Point Marion – a town once known for its role in the Pennsylvania glass industry. Today Point Marion is filled with historic sites and architecture, not to mention trails and fishing opportunities. And in a new development that will really resonate with nature lovers, Point Marion has something else to offer this beautiful summer – kayak rentals that allow people to explore this beautiful public space via the water.
Local resident and now entrepreneur Vicky Evans has been the driving force behind this new paddling launch point. Throughout 2017, Vicky has worked under the umbrella name of Mon River Rec while tapping into the Mon River Town organization as a local resource. Vicky has a degree in recreation and parks management and a long history of working in the outdoors as a conservationist and an outdoor recreation planner, mostly with the United States Department of Agriculture. It’s safe to say she’s “always been interested in the outdoors and in helping people get out there and enjoy them as well.”
As a resident, Vicky quickly realized through her own experiences that the town’s location makes it one of the best places to kayak in western Pennsylvania. Point Marion sits near a fork in the Monongahela River, providing kayakers with more places to paddle as they journey up and down the water. That’s because in addition to splitting off into the Cheat River, the Mon meets up with Dunkard Creek near Point Marion. And both the creeks and the quiet Cheat River are traffic free – no boats, no barges, no locks…nothing but water!
Ironically, the woman behind the kayak boat launch project is relatively new to the kayaking scene. She admits to being “mostly a dry land kind of person” in the past, as her experience prior to running Mon River Rec involved more biking and hiking.
“It’s added a new dimension to my life,” Vicky says about the project. “Now instead of waking up in the morning and going for a bike ride or walking the dog, I’m calling up friends to go on the river.”
Paddling up and down the Mon has never been easier in Point Marion, thanks to the kayak rental that opened in June 2017. A reservation made through Vicky ensures that visitors can use one of her six flatwater recreational kayaks during their exploration. (No tandem kayaks are available, so paddlers must be comfortable using a single kayak.)
Here’s how it works once a date and time is set: paddlers meet Vicky in Point Marion at the kayak boat launch. She brings the boats and life jackets, and kayakers bring any extra items they may want as they explore the local creeks and paddle up and down the Mon. Vicky then sends paddlers on their way, and meets them back at the launch at the end of the trip. It’s a simple but effective system, and Vicky has been thrilled with the response to the launch so far. One person stands out in her mind – a woman who came on a Monday for a couple of hours. “The lady came back on Friday with her son, and they went out for another two hours or so,” Vicky remembers.
But perhaps the most touching part of it all is how important this project really is to former land-lover Vicky. Mon River Rec has given her a chance to work with her son and to continue – even in retirement – to help people enjoy the beautiful nature scenes around them. And she already knows what she would like to do as the project continues.
“We definitely want to be environmentally friendly,” according to Vicky. Now a regular paddler, Vicky has already come back from her adventures in boats overflowing with trash. That’s why, “In the future we definitely want to plan a clean-up paddle, because it’s important.”
Clean-up paddles would certainly add an entire new dimension to Vicky’s work – and would fit in perfectly with her current adventures in Point Marion, as there’s “just a whole new area for me to explore and make a positive difference.”
Are you interested in exploring the beautiful waterways around Point Marion? It’s easy to make a reservation and get out on the water. Contact information and pricing is listed below – so be sure to get in touch and plan your day-trip before the summer’s end!
We recommend bringing the following items with you when you kayak:
If you wear a bathing suit, an overshirt or tank top is recommended – the sun can be quite hot during the summer!
Be advised that all kayakers are required to be fitted with a life jacket before their paddle. All visitors will want to work with Vicky during this process to ensure that their life jacket fits and is fastened correctly, both to comply with state regulations and to guarantee that the jacket will keep paddlers afloat in the river should an accident or emergency take place during a paddle.