Trip planning help

In planning a day trip for paddlers who are just starting out in a kayak or canoe, what would be a good distance to plan for? The paddlers have basic boat handling and reasonable athletic ability. None are “jocks” and the ages vary from the 30’s to the 60’s. I realize the longer we do this the better we will get at estimating how far we can go in a specified amount of time, but what would be a starting number for flat water?


My 2 cents
Thats going to depend on alot of different things which can be addressed in your planning and research stage of the area you intend to paddle. Things like, ocean waters, lakes, slowmoving rivers? Ecological sites, reserves, historical sites and other features along the way that may call for your attention. The presence of moving water or prevalent weather conditions. Whale watching? Bird watching? Planning on a time for a break?

While taking people whale watching in sea kayaks and taking them one by one into a sea cave, and covering a total distance of close to eight kms in a three hour period, with small sporadic breaks throughout the paddle in protected little coves, which left lots of time for whale and bird watching, and any other wildlife or sites.

These were not always kayakers, in the case of guiding expierenced paddlers, the distance was greatly increased and water types and exposed zones could be explored.

Take a test trip and see what kind of distance you can cover.

The average sea kayak (based on clients - not necessarily expierenced paddlers) was 2 - 3 kms per hour.

Now you begin piecing together the multitude of X factors…its a fun process.

GOod Luck


Four to six miles should be fine
Make a day out of it.

Bring a lunch, and make several stops.

My wife and I have been paddling all our lives and do anywhere from four to twenty on any given trip, but we can have just as much fun on a four mile trip and some times more than on a longer one.



Beginner distance

– Last Updated: Mar-09-08 4:17 PM EST –

After reading you post and checking your profile,

I make the assumption you are paddling this day trip on a lake in the beautiful mountains of Kentucky and a day trip is 6-8 paddling hours not counting the lunch stop.

Here in Atlana I take beginners on a 9 - 14 mile day trip on a flat water lake where wind is the major factor. The trip will depend on the ability of the slowest paddler who must be watched closely.

Your ability to instruct or aide beginners in proper paddling plus your ability entertain them will mostly effect the distance.

I give this 100% and consider taking beginner paddlers on their first day trip to be extremely important because no matter what trip they ever take they will always this first wonderful.

Thanks Georgia Kayaker. The 9-14 figure is close to what I had “guessitmated”. The lakes here are indeed beautiful, but there are also some nice small navigable streams in the area. We are a loosly knit group of beginners who are looking to expand our paddling to these streams. I realize that the starting milage is going to be a “swag” but needed some starting point till we can amass more data. The logistics of such a first trip are the sticking point. Arranging drop off & pick up is one thing that has to be figured. One of the proposed trips is 15 miles long and has about 15 points at which we can start/finish as it winds its’ way across the farm land and crosses lots of roads any of which can be used. The first should be a real adventure.

Thanks again,


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