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Kayaking on Lake Erie



Kayaking or paddling on Lake Erie can be a one-of-a-kind experience. On calm days when the water is as flat and serene as glass, the lake makes for a beautiful sight and the ideal place for a relaxing day out on the water. Other times, when the waters are a bit choppy, it can be an exciting challenge to paddle over wave after wave.


Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just want to paddle for fun, Lake Erie is one of the best places to go on a kayaking adventure in Cleveland, Ohio! Here are all the basics you need to know about kayaking on Lake Erie while you plan your next trip.


Guidelines and Tips for Kayaking on Lake Erie

Paddling on any of the Great Lakes, such as Lake Erie, can be a whole different experience from one day to another. It’s a great way to see and experience Lake Erie and its surrounding coastlines, and we guarantee that you won’t find scenery like this anywhere else. But before you go out on the water, it’s important to take note of the following safety guidelines and tips so your kayaking trip goes smoothly and safely.


Be Aware of the Weather

Weather on the Great Lakes can be unpredictable and tends to change at a moment’s notice. Before setting off, check for weather conditions and updates in your area. Inexperienced paddlers may want to set off when the weather is clear and the water is placid for easy navigation. You may experience strong waves and ocean-like swells in certain weather conditions, especially if you’re far from shore. Experienced paddlers may be able to take these on, but as always, caution is key.


Always Wear Safety Gear

Always remember to wear your safety gear. This includes a life jacket, life preserver, protective footwear, and waterproof bags or containers for phones and other personal items. You may want to bring signaling devices such as whistles and waterproof flashlights as well. Be sure to wear a swimsuit or any clothing that you’re okay with getting wet, as you can expect to get splashed at some point during your boating trip.


Never Venture Out Alone

Always go paddling in groups or pairs. It isn’t recommended to set out by yourself, even if you’re an experienced paddler. In relation to this, be sure there are people on shore keeping track of your whereabouts. Let them know how many people are in your group, the route you’re planning to take, and when you’re expected to be back so they can keep a lookout. Make sure they’re within earshot so they can hear distress signals from your whistle. It pays to have a plan in case of an emergency.


Know Your Limits

Veteran paddlers should have no trouble navigating the unpredictable swells of Lake Erie, but beginners may find themselves way out of their comfort zone in these types of situations. Depending on the weather, Lake Erie might not be the best suited for novice paddlers with little to no experience. Still, if you’d like to give it a shot, be sure to set out on clear days with calm waters and little to no wind, and pair up with someone with more experience and who knows the area well.


Paddling on Lake Erie is a test not only of your skill but of your boat as well. Make sure your boat is suitable for Lake Erie, and consider taking a few safety courses and paddling lessons before setting off, especially those that are specific to Lake Erie and the Great Lakes. It’s also recommended to have some skill in swimming in case of a capsize or in case you need to get out of your boat.


Stay in the Designated Water Trails

Water trails are designated routes along a river, bay, or lake that is specifically designed for smaller vessels, like canoes and kayaks. If a water trail is available in the area, stick to it. Remember that Lake Erie sees frequent use from commercial and recreational motorized watercraft. It’s best to stay clear of any of these, especially big freights, as even their wakes can be dangerous to much smaller vessels.


If there is no designated water trail available, always remember to keep the shore in sight and don’t paddle too far out. Lake Erie, while the smallest of the Great Lakes, is still a relatively large expanse of water, and it’s far too easy to get lost once you’ve lost sight of the shore.


Best Kayaking Destinations on Lake Erie

Eager to get out on the water? Great! Here are the best water trails and kayaking destinations on Lake Erie so you can get started on your kayaking adventure.


Lake Erie Water Trail

The Lake Erie Water Trail runs for more than 20 miles along Lake Erie’s shoreline and runs from Huntington Beach to Sims Park. This trail has up to 13 access points along the shoreline, including Huntington Beach, Bradstreet’s Landing, Perkins Beach, Edgewater Beach, Wendy Park, Gordon Park, and Wildwood Park. It also connects to the Rocky River Water Trail, the Cuyahoga River Water Trail, and the Euclid Creek Water Trail. It provides easy access to Lake Erie, mainland Cleveland, and other water trails for kayakers and paddlers to experience. It’s the best choice for a kayaking destination on Lake Erie for beginners and veterans alike.


We recommend starting at Edgewater Beach which is located in lower Edgewater Park. It’s close to the center of Cleveland, is right at the shore of Lake Erie, and offers other activities such as swimming, hiking, and picnicking.


Cuyahoga River Water Trail

The Cuyahoga River Trail is a U-shaped trail that empties into Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland. The Lower Cuyahoga Trail is closest to Lake Erie and can be a relaxing paddling experience going upstream towards Lake Erie. There are plenty of access points throughout the river and it is one of the most visited water trails in Ohio, as well as one of the most scenic.

A great starting point for kayaking on the Cuyahoga River trail to Lake Erie is Settler’s Landing Park. It’s got beautiful waterfront views and is located right at the heart of downtown Cleveland. Whether you’re following the flow to Lake Erie or going upstream, Settler’s Landing is the ideal place to set off down this water trail.


Kelleys Island Trail

Kelleys Island is Ohio’s largest inland island on Lake Erie and offers splendid views of the lake and historic Kelleys Island. This trail goes for 11 miles all around Kelleys Island. You’ll be able to spot everything from wildlife and pristine sandy beaches to 100-year-old Victorian-style homes and a look into the island’s charming downtown area and old stone quarry. On the island itself, you’ll find plenty of nature preserves, such as North Pond State Nature Preserve, North Shore Alvar State Nature Preserve, and Kelleys Island State Park.


Kayak Rentals in North Coast Harbor Marina

If you’d rather stick close to the mainland and enjoy a view of the Cleveland shoreline, North Coast Harbor Marina offers kayak rentals for anyone looking to get out on the water. Explore Lake Erie’s shoreline without needing to stray too far from home when you stay with us here at North Coast Harbor Marina. It’s inexpensive and great fun for the entire family!



Plan your next kayaking adventure with us here at North Coast Harbor Marina and gain a brand-new experience you’re not likely to forget. Plus, with our new membership pass, you can get unlimited kayak rentals all summer long! Make the most of your stay with us in Cleveland, Ohio with our world-class service and amenities.

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