Criteria for a public canoe/kayak launch

Include parking for kayakers with trailers. Thsi also helps with tall van toppers that load from the back. To prevent power boat access, use a curb between the ramp and the parking lot

Dear g2d part II
Welcome to the club Dave. It was kind of lonely here in the “Fun-killer / Flip Response / Cheesing Folks Off Club”.

I appreciate a work of art as much as anyone else. THe first scratches on a new hull are always painful, but are inevitable if you put in much water-time. I wish I got in as much mileage as Dave. And I’m with him regarding chilling out over the scratches. I would be perfectly happy if public launches were constructed without rip-rap or mud. Anything in between would be great.


wash area
How about a wash area, with running water.

I’m lucky because I have boat slipped in the marina, I have access to a wash area, where I can connect a hose, and wash off my boat, and even that is a bit of a hassle.

What Dan was talking about…

– Last Updated: Aug-07-06 5:24 PM EST –

...was that in late Spring, 3 paddlers we know who used the Ohio Street hand launch access on to the Buffalo River had their cars broken into, dented, windows smashed, etc. while they were kayaking. They got back after dark. We left the launch before sunset; we were getting out and they were just launching. This is NOT an area I'd like to be after dark.

Of course the guys who had their cars broken into reported this to the police, but to little avail. I called our local Riverkeepers to alert them, since they are the grassroots organization pushing use and clean up of the Buffalo River (and my paddling group voluntarily cleans this launch up every spring and fall). Turned out one of the guys whose car was broken into was a Riverkeeper himself! They were supposed to alert the local neighborhood watch too. So, yes, security -- and how safe paddlers feel in an area -- is also a concern.

I will definitely tell the DOT designer about this -- thanks for reminding me. We do need increased police patrol in that area, but I really don't know if that will happen. Which brings up another issue -- lighting.

Since the entire road in that area is being re-designed, and bike paths will be included, I assume the overgrowth so close to the road, as well as the old rusted junked autos and such will also be removed. And perhaps good street lighting will be installed too.

Every idea helps -- I am copying them all and giving them to the designer to consider.

Portapotty … or bushes
…for the discerning paddler!

Summary, Does this sound right?

River Access

Basic Parking – Gravel

Lighting – Safety and Security

Nice, But Not Required:


Trash Cans

Picnic Table

Concrete Ramp


Disabled Access

Luxury Item:

Shade Trees

Running Water

Rubber Launch Pads

Map Stand

Curb Between Parking Lot and Boat Ramp

Groomed Trail

Last but not least
"Ownership" on either the part of a state agency or a group of volunteers. If trashcans are provided, they must be emptied on a regular basis by someone. And sooner or later some yahoos will trash the spot with beer cans/bottles. A plan for ongoing maintenance would be a necessity in my mind.


ADA + Fed grant $$ = more $$
I once tried to have a canoe launch put in at the local river in town. Everything was in place, the funding, the plans, the town was supplying the workers. It was a 15 K project ( the cost included ‘in kind’ donations from several organizations.) that was an official (almost done) deal. Nothing fancy, some landscaping, pressure treated lumber, metal railing’s and granite slabs. DEM permit’s were in place. Wetlands study done. Then the Govenors office for the ADA stepped in and wanted to know why it wasn’t being constucted for handicapped access.(We were using a small amount of Fed grant money) We had had several meeting’s with the town planner/ town manager/ highway dept. and in our disscusions we had determined that the type of access, and down river features (2 portages, blowdowns, broken dam rapids, CL-II rapids) didn’t require H.A. . And if a handicapped person did attempt this river then they should be able to manage the ‘gentle slope/stairs’. Wrong. I got into a 40 minute arguement w/ the state ADA director and at the end the whole project got dropped because it would have almost doubled the cost. And the reality is none of us thought that a disabled person would even want to attempt doing this podunk stream.

The location is in town at the base of the waterfall at a small town park. The former access was a steep drop to the pool at the base of the falls through thick brush down a straight shot dirt path that was about 20+ ft high top to bottom and not even a noticeable trail as you walked by, it was that discreet. We wanted a simple staircase to the water with granite blocks at the bottom with some dredging of sand that had accumulated from road sand washing in and a handrail. After meeting with the principals again and re-accessing the cost with the architect it was determined it would cost 25K+ to make the site ADA acessable.

This was not a heartless snubbing of people with disabilities. It was the practicality of a small town project on a small river that would have presented a major challenge to a handicapped person had they attempted to paddle this podunk river. The ADA requirements would have ripped up a quater of the mini park and the slope and ramp constuction would have made a discreet canoe/kayak launch into a humungus ??? Then the town manager got fed up and got concerned over liability and we all said screw it.

A few years later I was approched by a member of the local Lions club who wanted to know what ever happened to the canoe launch? The Lion’s club was going to provide the landscaping /shrub/bark mulch ect. After filling him in on the whole ADA thing we parted and I thought that was it.

About a year later I see him again and he ask’s me if I’d seen the new ‘Erosion control’ project over at the waterfall? The town had taken a bunch of granite slabs, laid them flat like stairs down to the waters edge. Looks like steps to me (a canoe/kayak launch!). Officially it was a erosion contol project because of the dirt path being a conduit for runoff. It’s not what was envisioned. And it was made with scrap’s of old mill granite and it’s not landscaped but it’s more than a brushfilled dirt path. You can walk down to the water with plenty of room for several boats, there is no handrail, but the slabs make steps about 10 ft wide.

Be aware of ADA requirements if you use grant money. 99% of most project’s do need ADA access. (and I whole heartedly agree) But some project’s it makes no sense. There had even been talk of, if we had made the put-in H.A. the town would have had to make the two portages and take-out H.A. too.

Backroom Diplomacy
I like it!

This guy sounds like a shadowy figure in the background who knows how to get things done. Not a brass name plate running for office. Do we smell a conspiracy?

OK, having been a smart-ass, I will probably need that handicapped access someday. I already have a bad back and a bum leg.

Good luck on the project. Do as much as you can. Steps with a rail are better than steps without.

Good ideas here
Wow! Many thanks for all the input. I will give it to the designer. Let’s hope it turns out well. Of course, it will be a few years before it is completed, but I’m going to investigate this spot for current launching, since the state already bought the strip of land.

It seems from all the comments and from the websites given that a simpler launch design is better in many ways – easier to maintain, too.

We can use all the water access we can get in western New York, so I’ll stay on top of this one.

be careful with rails
I’ve seen a couple of good put ins wasted because they put in rails. The rails make it much harder to carry your boat. as you have to make certain the boat is at the right height to clear them. also they cane be a big problem if thaay put them along the dock. Really a pea gravel or sand beach is best. If you over do it you can actually make things worse for many folks with longer or heavier boats.

two kinds of rails
One kind is for launching small boats, it is a track that sits on the stairs and enables you to slide your boat to and from the water rather than carry it. These rails are wonderful at a PITA take out at Cunard on the Upper New River Gorge. There are concrete stairs about 3 stories high, with the rails running up the middle, just put your boat across the rails and climb the stairs pushing your boat ahead of you. Those particular rails were initially made for launching rafts, but are close enough together for a 6’6" kayak to fit. Some of the launching rails are only 12" apart so the vee of your boat bottom helps guide the boat up or down. On a really difficult put in/take out these rails can be very useful.

The other kind of rail is a people handrail along one or both sides of the launch area. These are helpful for disabled persons and older people. For some disabled persons it will mean the difference of being able to use the boat launch or not. As noted above however, care must be taken to not position the handrail where it will interfere with carrying or sliding a boat on the ramp.

Storage Rack
For the first time this week I saw that our RiverLife Task Force has installed canoe/kayak racks at various launch sites along the river. They look like a canoe trailor without wheels or a hauling hitch.

The idea is that you can put your canoe or kayak on it; lock it up; and then walk up to town for lunch.

I say something like this at a race in ny and loved it.

There was a series of large 2foot steps, so that at any water level one step was easily reached from a canoe and the others were great for fishing or whatever, and the best part was that you don’t have to deal with jerks and there boat trailers (pleas excuse the sweeping generalization)

One problem with the plan was this. When me and my racing partner cam in to the crowded trade of acsses (this was a relay) we both took the water to be about 8 inches deep judging by the crowd waiting on there boat. I jumped over the right gunwale away from the bank and found myself chest deep in the river. My bow paddler stepped to the left towred the shore and also missed the step. She still had a leg in the boat and it of course became hooked over the gunwale and under the seat.

It might have been funny viewed from a distance.

inspiration strikes
well I gave up after the sandy beach post. I thought that was just the end of good ideas, what could top it in simplicity. Then a few little thoughts started to get spured on. What about a small deck/dock. not more then about four feet wide and a little into the water. Just for when it is rainy and watery and mucky to help get in and out. There is a launch by my house that gets too wet to use.

The hitching post is a nice idea as well. maybe just a place to lock your boat up or as fancy as whole storage rack.

A sandy beach with a solid hard area for mucky days and a little spot to lock a boat and parking. that would pretty nice.


Not exactly what your looking for but—
On one of the local state parks here in Ohio, some of the 'fishing Freaks took a picnic table down to the shore line and pretty much stuck it in the water.

Now it may seem strange, but being a newbie, I actuall found it pretty easy to tie up to and take a break out of the boat. The seat was about 4 to 6 inches above the water, so it was pretty easy to get in and out of my sea kayak, and ended up sitting on the table top eating my lunch and watching the blue herons go after the local small fish. Two people could have pulled up on both sides almost like a slip pier.

Like I said, it’s the damnedest thing, but I found it usefull

where is that?
I wanna see it


Outside storage racks
I saw these in Toronto last summer. Folks had their kayaks stored and locked on wooden racks. The racks had numbered shelves (not sure what else you’d call them) and this was by a canoe and kayak rental place, so I am assuming in a city where people mainly live in high-rises, this was rented storgae space so paddlers could take their boats out on the water at will. I even saw a guy get off the subway with a paddle in a paddle bag and unlock his 'yak and launch it.

Pretty cool concept. Dunno how they keep the theft down, but the racks were pretty much in sight of a police substation!


Findley State Park

– Last Updated: Aug-15-06 9:31 PM EST –

Close to the boat ramp. The fishing freaks took picnic tables down to the water's edge. They sit out there all night on these tables. I imagine the rangers pull them out sooner or latter, but they usually end up back in the water.

How far east are you from Wellington / Lorain County??

Now that I think about it, Findley has a pretty nice setup for both power boats and Canoes/kayaks. they have the proverbial concrete ramp, but they also have about a 12' x 4' wooden pier about 8" above the water line. One setup around the picnic area, and one in the camping area. It's electric motor only, but I've seen 16'to 20' Bassin rigs in there trolling around. It's kinda fun to pass a big boat with twin 50's trolling along.