Paddling around NYC

I am hoping to row down the Hudson, and into Long Island sound, as part of a trip starting in Lake Erie. I was wondering what to expect around NY harbor, and what route is best, and during what currents this passage should be made, if at all. Thanks for any advice.


New York Harbor

– Last Updated: Jul-10-08 12:02 AM EST –

Obviously, you can only go down river with the outgoing tide. So I'm assuming you know how to check the Hudson tide and plan accordingly.

You can bypass New York Harbor by going into Harlem & East River. Best time to go through Hell Gate is at slack tide. Traffic at East river is much less crazy than the Hudson itself.

If you want to go via NY harbor, you will have a very exciting time. Ferry and barges come at you from every possible direction. You need eyes on the back of your head! :)

Only down river?
ABC, what do you mean “obviously you can only go down river with the outgoing tide”? Easier yes but only, no.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Hudson River Watertrail Association
The HRWA operates an e-mail list based discussion group. Many NYC based paddlers with lots of knowledge of the area.

There are also numerous community paddling groups in the area, including, but not limited to (sorry if I forgot any):

Yonkers canoe, kayak and rowing club.

Inwood Canoe club

Long Island City Boat House

Downtown Boat House

Sebago Canoe Club

short route or through harbor?
Very different circumstances if you’re going to take a route via the Harlem River, Hell Gate, upper East River, and LI Sound, versus Hudson River, the Battery, New York Harbor proper, lower East River, Hell Gate, upper East River, and LI Sound.

In the former case, depending on many circumstances, you might want to avoid Hell Gate entirely. There is a little trickle of water called the Bronx Kill that connects the Harlem River directly to the upper East River, bypassing Hell Gate. It has a very low bridge that you have to limbo under at high tide, and it has slippery rocks to portage over at low tide, but it is safer than Hell Gate and the Battery.

If you’re going to do the full Harbor experience, I suggest bringing a marine/VHF radio, good charts that include the security zones, and some knowledge of the ferry and barge routes. It can get very hairy on a busy day with tidal current opposing the wind. You’re best off in the early morning (before 7:30), before the wind and traffic pick up.

The HRWA’s nyckayaker list is a good resource, and the HRWA publishes a Hudson Watertrail guidebook that has decent information (it’s better for the river above NYC than for the harbor).

These are my home waters. I paddle from a club in northern Manhattan, near where you would leave the Hudson to take the first route I mentioned. Mail me off-list if you want details.

– Mark