Noob looking for a solution

Hello All,

I’ve recently taken up Kayaking, nothing too extreme, think leisurely stroll down the river. I live near St. Louis, where mostly calm waters are abundant. I’d like my family to join, but all they do is whine, so I’m looking into solo runs :wink:

My question is, how do you park in one place, kayak for a while, then make it back to where you parked? I’m assuming you just paddle up river, then back down, but are there specific spots you look for, like loops of some kind? Thanks for the help!

Launch and land at the same spot is common. If you are paddling an area with a current, going against the current first is also common, so you get some help back when you are tired.

Another option is to find other (non-whiney) people to paddle with and use 2 cars to set a shuttle so you can do a point to point paddle.

Or find a shuttle-bunny to drop you off at start and then drive your car to the far end of your paddle to pick you up.

In some areas, people can use public transport to help. In Pacific Northwest, not uncommon to put your boat on wheels and board a ferry and at the the far end, pack your wheels in the boat and paddle back to where you left your car. Or if your boat is an inflatable or folding boat, you could take a bus or train or taxi.

Some also do this without their boat - paddle to some place, then stash your boat and use bus/train/taxi to go back to your car and then return with car to get boat. Some even use a bicycle to handle the shuttle.

How do we do it…?

We paddle with the last hour of the incoming tide and turn around and follow the outgoing back out. It won’t work at ST Louis. So up current firts then back down. Or…paddle lakes…recently we did 9 miles in Lake James in NC.
Out and back.

This summer we will be paddling Mark Twain Lake. You do have some big water options without the tugs and barges.

I’ve done quite a bit of paddling going upstream on rivers and then back.

A few tips in case any of them help you:

If you paddle along the edge of the river close to the shore the current is slower and you’ll often find obstacles like fallen trees to block the current in front of you.

When rounding a bend going upstream you want to be on the inside of the curve because the current goes to the outside where you would end up fighting more current and also for a longer time since the inside is the shorter path. Even on my local river which takes some effort to cross it is almost always worth doing this as the river snakes around. I suggest crossing at about 45 degrees to the current or your direction of travel since you’ll get across just fine and your boat will remain stable. Even if you get pushed back downstream a bit as you cross that’s fine.

If there is a stretch of river with faster water you want to apply some extra muscle and get through it asap because if you dwell or dawdle in fast current you’ll use up a lot of energy and get little in return.

If the wind is gusting don’t fight the gusts, they will pass. You can back off during gusts.

One thing to beware of is when the wind is strong and helping you get upstream. The wind can be more powerful than the current so it’s easy to fall into the trap of happily surfing upstream with the help of the wind and then turning around to find that the current ain’t gonna get you home and now you have to fight headwinds the whole way back. It’s also good to look at a weather report and to remember that the weather can change quite a bit while you are out paddling and it rarely gets better. Windy days can suddenly turn into incredibly windy days and this tends to happen when you are furthest from your starting point.

It’s good to have your cell phone in a waterproof case (empty peanut butter jar works) and also to tell your family approximately how long you expect to be gone in case something unexpected happens.

I’m a canoe person but I’m pretty sure the same stuff applies to you.


I find it easier to paddle against the wind or current in my sea kayak than my solo canoe. Some excellent advice and suggestions has been given little I can add, but if you have rocks in the river you can paddle behind them into the eddy to rest.

If the Mississippi up around St. Louis has levees (dikes), then the water up fairly close to shore should be deep enough to paddle there and the current shouldn’t be a problem. Even so, a fast boat (sea kayak, or ski) is the way to go.

My absolute favorite place to paddle is the mighty Columbia River. Where I paddle, we have tides, but I rarely base the direction I paddle on what the tide is doing. We’re coming up on the spring freshet and that does influence whether I even want to be out there at all.; If it is a strong runoff, there will be lots of logs and stuff headed out to the ocean and the water gets brown and ugly. That’s what lakes and smaller rivers are for.