Ideas- municipal Kayak/Canoe boat ramps

I was just out paddling last night and the Cedar Lake supervisor here in Carbondale, Illinois and I got to talking about the benifits of a separate boat launch area for paddlers. I suggested something where paddlers could paddle up onto, or down off of a platform or dock sloping into the H2o. He really sounded into the idea, I think because a lot of times we paddlers tie up one or both of the ramps entering the H2o, holding up fishing boats trying to enter/exit the area. My question is this, have any of your communities implimented a seperate ramp area, and how did they approach the idea? Docks, ramps? The Supervisor seems willing to work with me and suggested I bring him some ideas I might come up with. I’d appreciate any photos, or links you all may have seen or worked with in your areas, whether on a private or municipal level. We used to have a great grassy area next to the ramps here at Cedar Lake, but because of years of erosion they had to rip-rap that spot recently. I know I’ve seen some sort of plastic interlocking docks advertised that you can paddle up onto or off of. I’m looking for anything I can bring to the table, it would be nice to have our own area to assemble and put in/take out at. Thanks for any info folks!

Holding up Boats?
You should be able to launch and land a kayak in less than a minute once you get the boat to the ramp. I would not want to get people thinking that paddlers have to have separate access, it sets a bad precedent for other areas.

Take a look…
Atlantic Kayak Tours in Peekskill, NY has ramps that are not only very non-impacting, but can let disabled paddlers launch. I foget their URL but you can find it via a search engine. One of the new state launches up here has the same kind of ramp built into one end of the regular motor boat launch, and it works great at keeping paddle boats from getting in the way of motor boats and vice versa. They did this just by slightly widening the lanch barriers over what they would have normally been, then stuck the rubber paddle boat launch dock into that space.

While whole additional boat launches would be overly much, I think it’d be a great idea if more motor lanches added width to accomodate paddle boats. This would make it easier for everyone - letting the paddle craft be loaded launched and docked without unimpeding access for motor boats. At some more popular launches around here, which have narrower access to the shore, it can take a lot of attention to make sure that a group of paddlers isn’t interfering with the motor boats at prime times of the day.

Ideas- municipal Kayak/Canoe boat ramps
Good topic. I can see where separate docks would be great for us kayakers as well as other boaters. Out here in Central California, a lot of lakes are for drinking water so there is a no-body-contact rule, meaning we must embark from boat docks. My home lake, Lake Casitas near Ojai, just gave kayakers “permission” to launch from the shore anywhere along the developed areas. We are still held to the no-contact rule but I think it is becomming a non-manageble issue (there is a lot of shore-line). Designated kayak/canoe docks would be great for all. I will watch this thread. I hope there are some ideas for these docks that I can pass on to the Water Distric’s Board of Directors. I am sure they will interested.


There are a couple up on the Tar River in Rocky Mount, NC. Check with Heather, the Riverkeeper for the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation ( or

Stay safe on the water,


Launching in a minute
Ya… most of us can launch in a minute or two, but a lot of folks don’t seem to be able to, whether they are fishing boats or paddlers. A lot of times I’ve had to wait for fishing boats to get in or out, and some of these guys have no respect for paddlers and often don’t pay attention to us, though rare. As far as setting a negative precedent, where exactly are you coming from… out of curiousity? You kinda lost me on that comment. I think most paddlers, AND fishermen, would love the concept and it would ease a lot off ramp issues, and the lake supervisor seemed pretty elated about the concept also. Sorry, negative precedent? I think not.

Our town put a “human powered” ramp
in the town park a few years ago. Simply a few truckloads of sand and some minor grading. Simple, cheap and effective.

Separate but equal
I think the idea that paddlers tie up boat ramps while fishing boats are trying to use them implies that we have less right to be there than the motorized folks. Promoting “separate but equal facilities” will get us relegated to a muddy stretch of shoreline with a sign that says Canoe and Kayak ramp. I pay the same taxes and where there is one, the same ramp fee as the guy with the Bayliner, I should have the same right to the ramp.

Why would you want to?
I’ll take our separate but equal ramp any day. IMO launching from a concrete beach sucks.

I can see it but…

– Last Updated: Oct-05-05 3:34 PM EST –

It's a matter of need. A motor boat has to have a somewhat firm or developed spot to launch, a paddle boat can get away with less. At least, as long as it doesn't include climbing over rocks where you can fall and crack your head open. And traffic tie-ups aren't any more fun on the water than on the highway, whatever their basis.

Paddle boats can easily be argued to have full rights on (positive) economic impact alone. We also stop and eat after paddling, have a little beer, etc. That should justify expanding otherwise narrow plans to incorporate decent quality launch points for both motor and paddle craft.

We have a few paddle craft only launch points around here, which are very pleasant. Though, I agree that they could consider better services. There are a couple where they could really reduce the environmental impact by just adding a Port-o-San.

My Preference
I would much rather launch at a sand beach than I would a dock or concrete ramp. I have used all three as well as a river bank and am happiest with a sandy beach with less than three feet of water.

This would be, as previously pointed out, the easiest and cheapest paddle launch.

happy paddling,


Same rights
Your absolutely right ‘Friday’, and we are lucky enough to have a lake supervisor who wants to give us our own ramp or dock, not just a mud/gravel beach, which we currently have. The problem is you STILL have to park on the ramp to get near the mud beach. We have a lot of older folks who paddle here and they are not able to carry their craft the 200-400’ from any given spot in the parking lot.This in no way says we are lesser people or area users, but that we have equal rights to local tax money and it would benifit BOTH user groups, not just paddlers. Again, I spend plenty of time waitng for motorboats to enter/exit also, and on occasion have come back to the ramp from the parking lot to find some yahoo has dragged my boat across gravel so he can beach his motorboat till he can get his car down to the ramp. I find it hard to believe paddlers would find an issue with a seperate dock for themselves. If my city wants to provide one with taxpayer money, then I for one am all for it. As a taxpayer, your right, I want equal benefits. And if it eases access, even better.

We Have Many
state mandated CAMA access points along most of our developed barrier Islands. These are by nature public access points. They usually have a half dozen or so parking places. They would make perfect paddle put in places with the exception that rocks are used to prevent errosion. If a set of simple steps were available you could easily walk your kayak or canoe down to the beach and launch. As it now stands these CAMA access points are rarely used as they present a difficult way to the water with or without a boat.

happy paddling,


Non Motorized Boats NotPermitted
Sorry I have lived in two states where developed boat ramps were off limits to canoes and kayaks. These ramps were paid for with my taxes and fishing license fees.

AKT ramp
I get most of my training and tours with atlantickayaktours and so I’m well familiar with their ramp. For launching, I’ve never seen a better ramp. You place the kayak in a groove/channel that’s embedded in the plastic/rubber ramp and can launch straight into the water, via a slight incline. No harm to the boat and your feet stay dry. It’s perfect! The ramp has, I think, 4 parallel slots for launching. When returning, you have to aim for these “channels” in the ramp and paddle aggressively enough to get the boat onto the ramp - enough so that you can grab hold of a rope that’s there to pull yourself the rest of the way up. Of course a person on the ramp can help, but you can’t always count on someone being there. This arrangement is ok in general but difficult for rank beginners. Directing your boat with enough speed towards a channel of, say, 12 inches can be hard for beginners. I’ve seen people get stuck with their bow only slightly on the ramp…you capsize almost immediately. This happened to me too when I was just starting. Now it seems pretty easy. Who wouldn’t love getting in and out of the boat with absolutely no mud on their shoes. Right?


Special HDPE launching docks
I’ve seen brochures for those at marinas. They are targeted towards jetskiers but would work great for kayakers who don’t like getting their feet wet.

At one place we visited in Florida, the shop owner had made his own launching dock and ramp out of wood covered by carpet. You just dragged the boat onto the carpet, sat in it, and shoved off down the attached (carpeted) ramp. It avoided dropping off steep edges along the river or wading into muck.

It doesn’t bother me to launch from just beach. What does bother me is not being able to park nearby, making it a long portage to the water.

Sounds like floating PWC ramps NM

Yeah, plus…
… if you use the ramp, you’re expected to wait in line even though you can usually launch at the same time someone is geting theirs on/off a trailer without being in the way.

I avoid ramps unless the only other option is boulders or high seawall.

Floating dock
A local city park put in a nice BIG floating dock just for paddlers -the surface of which is maybe a foot or less off the water. They actually consulted with a local guide/rental outfit for input if I recall.

I have yet to see a paddler use it - and everyone I know still uses a small patch of mud/coral gravel bank adjacent to it. Much easier. Have seen fishermen (kids mostly) and people out for a stroll check it out. Otherwise - waste of $. Same small park has 2 boat ramps - never seen a paddler use those either.

A big part of the beauty of paddle craft is you don’t need ramps and docks and all that crap other boaters need most of the time. Of course - if you don’t want to get your feet wet I guess you’re SOL (and maybe need to find another sport? Maybe I’m just warm water spoiled - but if it’s that cold aren’t you in proper clothing anyway?).

Another park I used to launch from is all big rock seawall except the ramp. I’d drop and go in 30 second - not blocking anyone and using the free space alongside while they dropped off or hauled out or the time between vehicles. Zero interference - but still got yelled at for not waiting in line like everyone else. I actually had a guy bitch at me on takeout as hopped out and carried my boat past him (never stopped moving) before he could even hook up his winch cable. It’s a busy ramp and can have a 45 minute wait on weekends, so I can understand their frustration - but as some other boaters pointed out to the loud ones (so I never had to): “You could always just get a kayak too!” I switched to using a gap in the rocks beside the ramp - which proved easy enough to manage - and got no grief.

boat ramps suck…
It’s always nice to see a sandy beach or just a grassy area to launch from. I’ve been to a few rivers which had a wooden canoe/kayak launch which was basically just a ramp into the water with 1 inch raised pieces of wood for better footing, it also had handrails which I didn’t need. The place I bought my boats had a carpet covered cement ramp right behind their shop. I can launch from almost anywhere, i have good balance, my wife however doesn’t and needs somekind of ramp.