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Paddle The River

Let's Get You Out On the Water

Experience the Bronx from a new perspective.

This Season's Paddling Schedule

Sign up for a paddle

There are different ways to get on the water that meet your comfort level. Check out our scheduled events or charter a trip to canoe and kayak along the Bronx River.

Paddling Schedule

You don’t have to go far to find your adventure on the water. The 23-mile Bronx River flows for eight miles through the heart of the borough. Thanks to decades of restoration, you can canoe or kayak your way down the beautiful forested northern areas into the industrial Bronx and tidal areas. 

Important Information

Here's what you need to know about paddling

While no prior experience is necessary, there are important things you need to know before getting out on the water. Our Blueway Paddling Guide (PDF) and our FAQ highlight hidden gems and will orient you ahead of time. Also stay updated about COVID-19 protocols.

Staying Safe on the River

You must be familiar with and obey all federal, state and local boating rules and regulations. These include but are not limited to:

  • All vessels are subject to safety inspection at any time by any federal, state, or local authorities.
  • All persons aboard a hand-powered craft must wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) at all times. It is recommended that all persons aboard power and sailboats wear PFDs at all times. Vessels must be equipped with at least one PFD per passenger.
  • Both a sound-producing device such as a small air horn or loud whistle-and a distress flag or flare or flashlight should be carried in case of an emergency.
  • All vessels must obey the Rules of the Road. These include, but are not limited to:
  • When two vessels are on a collision course in a crossing situation, the vessel on the right has the right of way.
  • Vessels without mechanized power have the right of way, but smaller vessels must yield to larger vessels that do not have the same maneuverability. These include sludge carrying ships, oil tankers and barges and any large commercial vessel. It is also wise to yield to fast-moving powerboats. A vessel being overtaken should maintain its speed and direction.
  • A vessel overtaking another should stay clear of the craft being overtaken.
  • In any case, take whatever action is necessary to avoid the collision.
  • Federal and state regulations prohibit mooring, that is, tying up to navigation aids such as channel markers and buoys except under emergency conditions.
  • Negligent or grossly negligent operation of a recreational craft that endangers lives or property is not permitted. Examples of negligent operation include:
    • Operating a vessel in a swimming area.
    • Operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Permitting passengers to ride on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
  • Because this is a water-use program, landing on any lands or shoreline or islands, other than a launch site or designated dock, is not allowed, except in an emergency.
  • Use up-to-date navigational charts of the water, tidal current charts, tide tables, and consult the Local National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather station. In addition, check your local newspapers for weather and general tide information.
  • It is much safer to travel with companions.
  • Always carry an additional means of propulsion, whether it is a paddle or oar when operating a hand-powered craft. Sailing vessels should be equipped with an auxiliary engine.
  • Never carry more persons than recommended by the manufacturer for the capacity of your vessel.
  • When either air or water temperatures are cold, it is advisable to wear an exposure (dry) suit when operating a hand-powered craft.
  • Because the shoreline can accumulate broken glass, rusted metal and other hazardous objects, passengers and operators alike should all wear foot covering when getting in and out of vessels.
  • Be aware that derelict cars, old boats and rotting pilings may be submerged in many of the shoreline areas. In addition, be on the alert for people fishing from bridges, unexpected approaching speedboats, and construction or repair activities.
  • Operators should be trained in first aid and know how to deal with hypothermia.
  • You should leave a detailed trip plan with your family or friends. Trip plans describe the trip you are planning to take in your vessel and lists anyone who is travelling with you.

*These safety recommendations were assembled by NYC Parks, learn more here.

To assure compliance with safety requirements, the City requires a permit for the use of all City kayak and canoe as well as power and sailboat launch facilities. Permits may be obtained by mail or in person for a fee of $15.00 . Learn more here.

Perform a Self-Health Check at home prior to participating in an event with the Bronx River Alliance. If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, please do NOT leave home:
Cough
Shortness of Breath or difficulty breathing
Fever (especially above 100.4 ℉)
Chills
Muscle Pain
Sore Throat
New loss of taste or smell

Wear a Face Covering
Masks/face coverings are required to participate in any on-water event with the Bronx River Alliance and must remain on for the duration of the event. A face mask must cover your nose and mouth.

Practice COVID-safe hygiene
Wear a mask/face covering whenever you leave home and cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.
Wash your hands often, using soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and rub into hands for 30 seconds.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
If you have touched or repositioned your mask, it is recommended that you wash/use hand sanitizer before touching anything else.
Monitor your health more closely than usual for cold or flu symptoms.

Upon arrival at the event
Please maintain at least six feet of distance between you and others at all times, and do not touch others.
Participants will have their temperature checked upon arrival. If anyone is measured to be above the CDC-recommended threshold (currently 100.4 ℉), the temperature will be read again in 5 minutes. If the second temperature scan also is above the threshold, the person will be asked to leave immediately.
Hand sanitizer and gloves will be available at the registration table.

ACA waivers and Photo waivers must be filled out and signed before participants get out on water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Each safety boat is equipped with a first aid kit, a radio, and cell phone for contacting emergency services if needed. During river paddles, we’ll have a lead boat looking for river hazards up ahead and a sweep boat who ensures that everyone is okay and no one falls behind. 

Please read below to learn more. 

YES! We are in obligation to keep each of our paddlers as safe as possible while out on water with us for every occasion. It is important for each of our paddlers to read through this document and complete the form in order to be able to participate in our on water paddle. For a speedy registration, bring the form with you filled out. For additional information on our policy, visit here.

You can pay for your trip up to two weeks after your take it. This ensures that you are paying only for the services you receive.

Absolutely. We encourage families to join any one of our Upper River Paddles throughout the season. Just let us know via email the age of the child(ren) so we can bring the right size PFD for the younger paddlers. We do restrict some of our more challenging paddles (such as our full and estuary paddles) to adult only for safety concerns.

As always, we will try our best to give our paddlers enough information for advanced trip preparation. However, sometimes unexpected weather or other circumstances may cause us to cancel our trip or postpone it. Our website will be the first order of notification of a sudden need for cancelation. If we are aware of unsafe conditions, all participants will receive an email and/or phone call 24 hours prior to trip.

Usually, no. However, trips may be canceled during heavy downpour and/or strong winds. Trips are also canceled when there are signs of lighting and or thunder. In the case of a cancelation we will try our best to reschedule your chartered trip, or offer refund to public trips.

If you need to cancel your chartered trip, we ask that you do so at least 48 hours ahead of time. This will ensure enough time let staff know and make the change. Fees may apply when canceling day-of.

The Alliance is unable to provide transportation to and from the starting location of a trip that ends along a different area of the river. We suggest participants use the very convenient MTA system 2 train which runs along most of major start and end locations of our trips or look into long term parking lots located throughout the Bronx.

Yes! Once you have begun your trip there is no turning back, you must be committed to finishing the entire trip. However we will help anyone who is struggling or feeling exhausted and will take into account serious medical emergencies.

We provide canoes, paddles, lifejackets, and a short lesson before going out on water.

Prior to your safety lessons and boarding, we will conduct a short educational introduction. This covers the Alliance, the river itself, and other activities and projects that are or will occur on the river. We provide and ask all boaters to participate in a safety lesson to ensure a safe and enjoyable voyage on your trip day.

We recommend you bring sunglasses, a wide brim hat, sunscreen, bug repellent, a change of clothes, plenty of water, and a light snack.

It’s also a good idea to bring a ziplock bag for your wallet or purse and your cell phone, as well as a plastic garbage bag to cover your backpack. We will be able to provide very limited amounts of dry bags, so please come prepared. Bathroom facilities are available at limited points along the river.

There is always the possibility of getting wet, muddy, or wet, and muddy, so we require closed toed shoes that have attachment to the foot. (NO – slip on shoes or sandals, but closed toed attached water sandals are ok.)

It’s a good idea for glasses wearers to use cords so that if their glasses fall off, they will not lose them. These can be found at pharmacies, optometrists, or sporting goods stores.

We recommend lightweight pants or shorts of nylon or similar quick drying material and a light jacket or rain jacket, if the weather is questionable.

Please note, jeans and sweats hold a lot of water and take a long time to dry, which can be a recipe for hypothermia.

We recommend moisture wicking or lightweight pants and shirts for your journey.

No, the Bronx River is a great place to learn how to paddle.

Many of our trips can accommodate participants with no prior paddling or swimming experience.
Want to test out the (shallow) waters? Join us for one of our FREE community paddles that are held in the Bronx River forest. 

We do like to let our paddlers know that these trips do require a fair amount of physical exertion, including climbing up and down hills and carrying boats (for upper river and full river paddles). The staff can provide some assistance; but, for the most part, you and your paddling partner will work as a team carry your boat and equipment.

We ask that those participating in a Bronx River Alliance hosted event to leave their boat and paddles at home and enjoy one of our regularly maintained vessels for the day.

However, do feel free to bring your own PFD for comfort—please remember that you do need to keep it securely fastened throughout our trip on water for your safety.

If you want paddle on your own—not part of an Alliance hosted event—please check into our Bronx River Blueway guide for information on safety and advisories on preparation for your trip.

Our canoe fleet consists of tangent canoes with 2 seats on either end. Due to shallow conditions on the river in recent years, we are restricting our boats to the following:

  • 2 adults/ teens, or
  • 2 adults and 1 pre-teen, or
  • 2 adults and 2 small children under 8 years of age

The use of cell phones is not advised.  We ask that paddlers do not use cell phones while paddling as it can be distracting and dangerous. Cell phones can get damaged or fall into the river. 

You may use your phone to take photos; however, the use of selfie sticks are not allowed.

The Bronx River Alliance is not responsible for lost or damaged items.  Enjoy the wonderful unique experience of the Bronx River with us!

Important Details of a Bronx River Paddle

Be sure to note the following:

  • River conditions within the upper freshwater sections of the river—between 219th and first portage of the NY Botanical Garden—are changeable with weather and tides.
  • Each of the 3 portages along the river vary in construction.
  • The northernmost Snuff Mill Dam portage has a 10 minute walk to the canoe put in—wheels are suggested. In planning your trip, please make the garden aware of your travel plans.
  • The Bronx Zoo portage is a small island located between the Twin Dams. This island is home to poison ivy so please be aware of footing.
  • The 182nd Street Fish Passage portage is confined within a gated area that remains locked. Please be aware that although there are restrooms present within the park area, they are inaccessible via portage site.
  • There is a DEP trash boom located at the northern portion of Concrete Plant Park. The boom can paddled over with kayak and canoe, if you have sufficient speed.

*The Bronx River Alliance reserves the right to turn away, deny or refuse service to any person(s) who it suspects may pose a health risk to its staff, paddlers, community or themselves.

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Trip Descriptions

Below is a list of our current paddling offerings. Have questions about a particular paddle and what it might entails? Email us at paddle@bronxriver.org

Join us in a paddle around the Bronx River estuarine areas. This trip will run within the saltwater portions of the river, which are affected by tide. On this trip, we start and return from either Concrete Plant Park or Starlight Park. Depending on paddler experience and weather conditions, we will either paddle within this area or travel as a group down near the mouth or stay within the docking area. Please allow 3-4 hours which include time for registration, put in, and take out.

Journey through the heart of the Bronx via canoe traveling south through the Bronx River Forest, New York Botanical Garden and part of the Bronx Zoo on this urban adventure. Travel through NYC’s only fresh water river and learn all the beautiful natural resource has to offer! There is one portage associated within this trip at the NYBG where participants will need to wheel their tangent canoes for approximately 10 minutes. Please note that although we will provide essentials for our trip such as tangent canoes, paddles and personal floatation devices, we will be unable to shuttle you back to the starting location.

Journey through the heart of the Bronx via canoe traveling south through the Bronx River Forest, New York Botanical Garden and part of the Bronx Zoo on this urban adventure into the Bronx River Estuary. This area of the river is quite challenging with 3 portages that require heavy lifting and slopes, we restrict this trip to adults only for safety reasons. Please note that although we will provide essentials for our trip such as tangent canoes, paddles and personal floatation devices, we will be unable to shuttle you back to the starting location. Ages 17+; not suggested for first time paddlers.

For beginner paddlers and youth 3rd grade and under, we host a small paddle within the rivers calmest area of the river, the Bronx River “lake”. Paddle up through areas surrounded by the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden within the freshwater section of the river. Although we can accommodate groups larger than 20 during this excursion, there are limited areas surrounding the launch pad for waiting groups. Please plan an additional opportunity for the remainder of your group, or take the opportunity to visit the zoo! (This is for chartered trips only — We do not host this programming on Wednesdays)

Short 10-15 minute paddles within a controlled area of the river. These trips are FREE and occur along different areas of the river so check out our calendar of events for additional trip details. Although we will have safety on land and in water, limited training will be made available to our guests prior to on water launching.

Paddling Opportunities​

More Ways to Get on the Water

While no prior experience is necessary, there are important things you need to know before getting out on the water. Our Blueway Paddling Guide (PDF) and our FAQ highlight hidden gems and will orient you ahead of time. Also stay updated about COVID-19 protocols.

Do you have a question? Feel free to send us an email, paddle@bronxriver.org.

Learn more about the work, people and impact of the Bronx River Alliance's Recreation Program!