Shelby Farms Kayaking 101

Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. With Shelby Farms Park’s many lakes, you’ll never run out of places to paddle through. In this blog post, we’ll cover kayaking 101, from how to navigate the water safely and efficiently to what you can do if your kayak ends up in a tree (spoiler alert: it might look like this).


Ensuring Safety

  • Wear a life jacket!
  • Have a buddy system.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Avoid high water levels or dangerous conditions.

Preparing for Your Trip

You’ll want to wear a life vest. This is non-negotiable—if you’re not wearing one, you’re not kayaking. If it’s your first time, bring someone who has done it before and knows the ropes, or else ask for an experienced tour guide at any of the rental locations.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Bring a whistle (trust me on this one). It can be used for emergencies when you’re out on the water or as an easy way to signal others if something goes wrong or if you get separated from your group.
  • Bring a first aid kit with bandages and antiseptic wipes just in case anything gets scraped up along the way (and don’t forget sunscreen!). The Shelby Farms Nature Center rents out small dry bags that fit perfectly inside their kayaks and are perfect for storing all these necessities while you’re enjoying yourself on the water!
  • Waterproof containers work well here; I recommend using either a dry bag or waterproof container because keeping electronics safe is important! You don’t want them getting wet while paddling around all day so bring whatever works best for keeping everything organized during those long hours spent exploring nature at its finest.

Launching and Paddling at Shelby Farms Park

  • Launching: To launch, you will need to park in the main parking lot and walk down a path marked “Launch.” You will see a wooden dock where you can rent kayaks, or bring your own.
  • Paddling: Once you’ve launched, paddle out on the lake until you reach placid landlocked water. This is where it gets easy! Just relax and enjoy being out on the water.
  • Landings: If anyone in your group needs to get off their boat for any reason (going to use the bathroom) they can simply do so by paddling over to one side of the lake where there are small sandy beaches all along its edge. These sandy beaches may also serve as areas where people land after their first ride around Shelby Farms Park’s lakes since they’re right next door (they’re closer than walking back up through all those trails).


Landing is a skill and takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if you struggle with it at first. Landing in windy conditions can be particularly difficult. It’s best to paddle in a straight line when landing so that you’ll have maximum control over your kayak once you hit the water. If possible, land where there are other boats to help guide you back onto shore—this makes the process infinitely easier!

Kayaking Tips for Solo Boaters

  • If you can, get a kayak with a rudder. This is the best way to steer your boat and keep it upright in rough water.
  • Practice your paddling skills in a pool or lake before you go out on the open water. You don’t want to get stuck out there because you’re not used to using your paddle correctly!
  • Bring an anchor for safety purposes if you think it’s going to be windy on that particular day. You need something heavy enough that it doesn’t drift away from where you are sitting, but light enough that it won’t sink if there is heavy rain or lightning nearby

Helping the Environment

  • Use biodegradable sunscreen.
  • Bring a trash bag to pick up litter.
  • Do not leave your kayak on the shoreline or at the launch site, landing site, or anywhere else besides where you launched it from.

Have fun and be safe on your kayaking trip.

In addition to a life jacket, bring sunscreen and water! Kayaking can be strenuous, so it’s a good idea to keep hydrated throughout the day. Make sure you know what kind of equipment you’ll need for your trip before you head out (i.e., dry bags or watertight containers). It is also important that you know how to operate the boat before taking off into open water—this will ensure that everyone stays safe while having fun!

Kayak the lakes at Shelby Farms!

As long as you take the time to properly prepare, you can have a great time kayaking at Shelby Farms Park. The park is full of beautiful scenery and wildlife that will make your trip an unforgettable experience. If you’re new to kayaking, don’t worry—we’ve got all the basics covered here! Just remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, dress appropriately for weather conditions (and leave valuables behind), keep one hand on the paddle at all times so you don’t lose control of your boat if something goes wrong (like tipping over), keep in mind what we have discussed above when choosing which type of vessel best fits your needs…