Kayaking How-To

Last updated: August 30, 2021

Go by kayak to take the route less traveled

When you think of Mercer County, many great ways to explore the rolling, green mountain landscape come to mind: ATV, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking. One different way to see the area? By kayak! Take the route less traveled and float atop a cool mountain stream, lake, or river to see the region from a new angle. 

First things first: let’s talk about one of the biggest misconceptions about kayaking. Many people think the sport is only for seasoned outdoor pros, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kayaking is a family-friendly activity that nearly anyone can enjoy. It’s kind of like riding a bike  — once you get the hang of it, you’re set!  

Beginners may want to rent or borrow a boat from a friend to test out the waters, but if that isn’t an option, there are a lot of reasonably-priced kayaks on the market these days. Like any sport, there are an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to purchasing a kayak. However, don’t get bogged down in the details. 

A recreational kayak (either sit-in or sit-on-top) will do the trick for paddling Mercer County’s lakes. Recreational kayaks are affordable, stable, easy to get in and out of, and simple to maneuver. This type of kayak is perfect for a beginner who wants to enjoy gliding across flatwater or slowly cruising down a stream or other body of water, like the Bluestone River.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and dip your toes in! Some great spots to try out kayaking in Mercer County include:

  • Glenwood Recreational Park and 4-H Camp 
    Located between Princeton and Bluewell, this park is a hidden gem. The 55-acre lake boasts three boat ramps, so entering and exiting the water will be a breeze! 
  • Dan Hale Reservoir 
    This reservoir, conveniently located on Route 20 between Bluewell and Glenwood, is known among area fishermen. However, kayaking and boating (those with electric motors) are also allowed. Visitors can check out the wildlife, go camping, or simply relax at the picnic tables, shelters or benches situated around the park. 
  • Kairo’s Resort
    Use this laidback resort, located only 30 minutes from Princeton, as your launching point for a paddle in the famous New River! Kairo’s Resort, in conjunction with Tangent Outfitters, offers full-service kayaking. They’ll take care of the equipment, preparation, transportation, and assistance. All you have to do is enjoy the water and, well, maybe paddle a little from time to time.  
  • The Bluestone River
    Arguably one of the most gorgeous waterways in West Virginia, paddling the Bluestone River will give you unparalleled access to isolated wilderness and wildlife. Take the aerial tram at Pipestem Resort State Park to the bottom of the Gorge to launch your adventure.

*Please note that water levels on the Bluestone River are often too low for sufficient paddling, especially in mid-summer.  Call 304-466-0156 to hear a recording of river levels before heading out. According to the National Park Service, the river depth should be between four and seven feet on the Pipestem gauge for you safely navigate the river without getting hung up on rocks