Posted by: davepidgeon | February 2, 2009

Skyscraper canyons

We’re familiar now with how outdoor companies and retail store advertisements like to cultivate popular images, like the canoeist or kayaker dipping paddles in a still lake, evergreens towering above the shoreline. So peace and serene, isn’t it? Yet, while I consider the possibility of kayaking the backwaters of Voyaguers National Park in Minnesota one of the finest trips you could ever take, I’ll also submit – in honor of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers – the concept of urban kayaking.

Picture yourself directing a solo kayak past the massive Point State Park fountain with the Steelers stadium rising from the opposite shore, or turning up the Monongahela River with sky-scraping buildings to one side and the cog railroad chugging up and down Mount Washington on the other, all the while countless bridges cars and trucks crisscross the three rivers. 

When the weather finally turns springlike, and if you find yourself in Pittsburgh, head to PNC Park just north of downtown, and by the 6th Street Bridge you will find Kayak Pittsburgh. Solo kayaks can be rented for $15 for the first hour and $8 for every half hour afterwards. Get there early if you want a solo kayak, otherwise you will have to take a tandem (or what I like to call “Divorce Boats,” and for good reason).  

One setback to be aware of when you go: Bring lots of sunscreen and a wide-brim hat. While the views of the buildings, stadiums, bridges and everything else that makes a downtown unique are memorable, you will be exposed to the sun. Cover up. But don’t let that take away from the adventure. This is well worth the effort and a unique way to get the “urban experience.”


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