Water-loving Northsiders now have an easy way to put their canoes and kayaks on Pittsburgh’s rivers.
A non-motorized access point to the Three Rivers Water Trail opened officially on Oct. 23 at Westhall Street in the Brightwood/Brighton Heights area, and already has turned at least one Northsider into a kayak lover.
The water trail is a system of 20 public access points for non-motorized boats like canoes and kayaks that are integrated with the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, said Sarah Carr, program manager for Friends of the Riverfront, which maintains the trails.
All these access points features a ramp or beach that makes it easy for people to get their boats on the water, and many have kayak racks that people can use to lock up their kayak while they’re walking or biking the Heritage Trail, she said.
At the Oct. 23 ceremony, the National Park Service formally recognized the Heritage and Water Trail systems as a National Recreational Trail. Carr said the honor shows that the trail system is well-developed, well-used and well-maintained.
“We were able to get a lot of people out on the water,” Carr said.
Getting people to actually use the water trail was one of the ceremony’s main goals.
Attendees, including City Council President Darlene Harris, were encouraged to take a kayak out on the Ohio River, courtesy Exkursion Outfitters and Clothiers.
Harris said she was hesitant about getting in a kayak at first, partly because of her recent abdominal surgery, but wound up enjoying her ride.
“I’m thinking kayaking? You have to be crazy. Me in a kayak?” she said. “As soon as I went in [the water] it started wobbling,” she said. “You have to relax, totally. That’s something I haven’t done in awhile.”
She said she went at least half a mile up and down the river, with a guide in a kayak beside her, coaching her. Now, she hopes to get the rest of City Council out for a kayak ride in the spring.
“I would recommend it for anybody, especially people who have a lot of stress,” Harris said. “It’s something you could get really addicted to.”
Friends of the Riverfront has 23 additional water trail access points planned. Currently, there are two others on the Northside. One under the Clemente Bridge, where Kayak Pittsburgh rents kayaks during the summer, and one near Heinz Field.