Both weather and calendar confirm that summer unofficially begins this weekend. And to help you kick it off, I offer you my second installment of the Best Paddling in New York City: Brooklyn. So grab your sunscreen and sense of adventure and head to the rivers, marshes and lakes of Brooklyn New York. You can also check out our paddling guides to Manhattan and the Bronx.
Paddling in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO
Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse, Brooklyn Heights
Season: Saturdays and Thursdays beginning in May
Getting there: Enter the park from either the north entrance at Old Fulton Street or the south entrance near Atlantic Avenue, and follow the park’s path to Pier 2. Nearby subways: 2/3 at Clark Street and A/C at High Street.
Details: Kayaking in this location offers unparalleled views of Manhattan, as well as a chance to familiarize yourself with kayaking basics and practice your new skills. As with many free kayaking programs, you’re limited to 20 minutes on the water due to high demand.
Paddling in Prospect Park, Gowanus and Red Hook
Audubon Center at the Boathouse, Prospect Park
Season: One-time event on June 9th
Getting there: The park entrance closest to the boathouse is at Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Road near the Prospect Park stop on the Q.
Details: This is a great opportunity for first-time paddlers who want to get a feel for canoeing in a controlled environment. Children 8 and up are welcome.
Red Hook Boaters, Red Hook
Season: Sunday afternoons June 3 to September 23; Thursday evenings June 7 to August 16
Getting there: Take the B61 bus to the intersection of Van Brunt and Coffey Streets, and walk two blocks west to the Louis Valentino Jr, Pier Park.
Details: This beachy kayak launch is managed by a kayak club that takes pride in keeping the park clean. Enjoy a 20-minute paddle at your own pace under the watchful eye of Lady Liberty, and you may even catch some waves from a passing cruise ship. In partnership with OutdoorFest, the Red Hook Boaters will lead an evening kayak trip on June 5.
Gowanus Dredgers, Gowanus
Season: Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings from May 1 to November 1
Getting there: Take the F train to Carroll Street and walk east along 2nd Street until you reach the Gowanus Canal.
Details: The Dredgers offer self-guided canoeing along one of our city’s most notorious waterways in order to connect New Yorkers with the reality of water contamination. You’ll find beauty within the sludge, and are encouraged to pick up trash along the way. Gloves provided!
Paddling in Greenpoint
North Brooklyn Boat Club
Season: “Public paddles” are held Saturdays throughout the summer. Keep an eye on their calendar.
Getting there: Take the G to Greenpoint Avenue and walk 10 minutes north to the Newtown Creek
Details: If you want to paddle a Superfund site, but aren’t quite ready for the independence offered by the Dredgers, join the NBBC on the Newtown Creek where it’s a team effort. They lead guided paddles in 25-foot-long canoes. These tours are kid and pet friendly.
Paddling in Canarsie and Marine Park
Sebago Canoe Club, Canarsie
Season: Saturday mornings June through August (full schedule here).
Getting there: Take the B103 bus to Avenue M/East 80th Street. From there, it’s a 4-minute walk to the clubhouse at 1400 Paerdegat Avenue North.
Details: The journey will be worth it. The club’s group kayaking trips, which last up to two hours, will take you away from Brooklyn as you know it. Jamaica Bay — nearly as big as Manhattan in area — is an ecological gem that is home to more than 300 species of birds.
Marine Park, Marine Park
Season: Rentals available everyday now through September 23; then weekends through November 18
Cost: $28 for a single kayak and $38 for a double for up to four hours
Getting there: Take the B or Q to Kings Highway and hop on the B100 bus to Fillmore Avenue/Stuart Street. Then walk 6 minutes to the entrance of Marine Park.
Details: For access to areas foreign to most Brooklynites, like White Island and Plum Beach Channel, independent paddlers can rent kayaks in Marine Park and explore the estuary adjacent to Jamaica Bay. No reservations required.
Meghan Berry, who has devoted much of her career to marketing and communications at nonprofits in New York City, is leaving behind office life for the classroom. This year, she begins a new journey as a middle school English teacher in Brooklyn and will otherwise be found traveling, kayaking, and riding her bike. Having grown up in rural New Jersey (yes, it exists), Meghan enjoys discovering pockets of nature and unexpected beauty in the city. Red Hook is home, and she celebrates it on Instagram @red_hookery.