Croton on Hudson Kayaking in New York
One of the most accessible New York kayaking spots is the Croton River, in Croton-on-Hudson New York. This launch site allows for access to the Hudson River and the Croton River, giving New York kayakers the ability to choose their adventure. Incredibly family-friendly, this Croton River route has beautiful scenery, swimming holes, and wildlife. It’s also extremely easy to get to and park.
Rentals are available through Kayak Hudson, and families or individuals frequently utilize their rental kayaks or canoes to explore the calm river and even go for a swim. But, if you have your own gear you’re definitely encouraged and able to use the launch site for free. Though, parking is $1/hour for non-village residents.
The Croton River is definitely a memorable location for anyone who wants a bit of secluded scenery so close to the city.
- Difficulty: 2.0/10
- Time: 1-2 hours, but more if you spend time swimming or resting on the rocks
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 6:00am-9:00pm, but more restrictive hours if you’re renting kayaks
- Parking: Plenty, but $1/hour without village permit. Paid parking is ~5 minute walk away from launch site
- Bathrooms: One porta-toilet
- Location: Near Croton-Harmon Train Stop at the Echo Boat Launch Croton-on-Hudson, NY
- Rentals: Available onsite from Kayak Hudson
- Dog Friendly: Park rules say no, but this rule is mostly ignored. I always recommend following park rules.
Getting to Croton on Hudson Kayaking and Parking
Immediately off of New York State Route 9a, it’s a direct shot from anywhere to this launch. This site is also train-accessible through the Croton-Harmon station, which lets out in the parking lot of this launch site. So, if you’re coming from the city or just want to take the train to this site – it’s unbelievably accessible.
When you turn into the parking lot you’ll see the train station on the left. Keep driving all the way to the end of the lot. You’ll see a large brown building at the end of the lot – the launch is immediately past that.
If you are a Croton-on-Hudson New York Village resident then you can park for free with your village permit. There is plenty of parking available for you immediately at the launch site, or right behind that brown building with less than a minute’s walk away from the launch.
If you are not a village resident with a permit then you’ll need to park in the paid parking (cash, card, or park-mobile options) at a $1/hour rate. This parking is immediately opposite the train station and on the left when pulling into the lot. It is around a 5 minute walk from this parking area to the launch site. So, you’ll want to unload your kayak then drive back up to park before walking back down to the site. It’s a bit of a long walk but they do ticket this area constantly, so you’ll want to make sure to follow the posted signs and park in the correct place.
Bathrooms and Rentals for the Croton River
When you arrive at the launch site, there is only one porta-potty. It’s a busy area with only one portable toilet, so take that as you will. If you’re wary or just not a fan of portable toilets in general you can always utilize the ShopRite bathrooms, which are a 3 minute drive from the kayak launch site. If you’ve taken the train the ShopRite is a bit of a walk, so you may want to just use what’s available.
Kayak and Canoe rentals are available through KayakHudson from this launch and other nearby locations. You do need to book online prior to arriving as it is an extremely busy area and they will run out of kayaks and canoes quickly. They’ll also give you a mini lesson if it’s your first time.
You can fish here, with the proper New York fishing license, but they do not rent fishing equipment on-site.
If you have your own equipment you can still utilize this site, and it’s about half and half with people having their own equipment vs. renting.
Launching the Kayak into Croton on Hudson
The boat launch has plenty of space, which is good because it can get a bit crowded. I tend to try to go to the far end of the launch on either side, just to be out of people’s way. I find it helps make a bit of a quicker launch, and I’m not blocking others from getting back on shore.
When you enter the water you’ll have the option of going left or right. If you kayak right you’ll head under the bridge and out into the Hudson River. But, if it’s high-tide you won’t be able to get under the bridge, so you can only head out to the Hudson on low tide. If you do choose to go this way make sure you’re good with currents, and also aware of the tides – you don’t want to get stuck on the wrong side of the bridge.
This guide is based on going left and into the Croton River. When you first get started it’s a wide area of open water. You’ll head under one additional bridge, and past that the river condenses more and more until you get to a much more scenic area.
You may also want to consider tides this way as well, as it’ll be easier to paddle when going in the direction of the tide. High tide means water is flowing into the Croton River, and low tide means water is flowing out into the Hudson.
Kayaking New York: Croton-on-Hudson Scenery
The Croton River surroundings are entirely what make this kayaking spot so amazing for people. It’s stunningly beautiful. My favorite parts are the willow trees hanging over the river at the beginning of the paddle, or the large rock formations alongside the water later down the river.
Depending on your pace, it will take you about 40 minutes to an hour to paddle from the start to the end. Longer if you have kids, or shorter if you’re paddling quickly. I tend to like to mosey my way down the river, so I may take longer that others.
But honestly, I paddle slow so I can spend the entire time looking around me at the trees, vines, rocks, and wildlife. I can’t help but stop and look around, which slows my pace. But, I get to see so many cool features of this paddle – including a tree with it’s roots growing over an old brick structure. Nature’s ability to adapt always amazes me.
Kayaking New York: Croton-on-Hudson Swimming
When approaching the more scenic area of the Croton river you’re going to come across a fork in the water. You’ll want to go right at the fork. Sometimes, if it’s extremely high tide, you can go left and make it around to where it connects. But unless it’s peak high tide, the water is too low to make it entirely around the island of land to the other side where the Croton River connects again.
Once you pass this river fork you’ll come across several rocky areas where you can park your kayak and get out to rest, eat, or even swim! This is really nice as just upstream of the kayaking area of the river is Silver Lake Park & Beach, which is only accessible to Croton residents. By Kayaking just a bit south you get to enjoy the same river without the restrictions!
Now, you’re going to want to be careful where you pull up your kayak. Several of the landing areas off the river are located on private property so you won’t be able to pull up there. They are all clearly labeled with signs so you’ll know where not to pull in.
Croton River Rocky Ending
Traveling just a bit up from the swimming spot you’ll reach the end of the paddle. You’ll know it’s the end because there are several large rocks blocking your path. During higher tide this makes a bit of a small rapid situation, which you won’t want to attempt. It’s very shallow and you’ll be likely to get stuck on a rock.
When I was here a collection of large birds were hanging out on some of the rocks just upstream. I almost didn’t notice them until one flew away. Just a reminder of how close you are to nature while you’re on this river.
Kayaking Back – Return to the Croton River Launch
On the way back I took some extra time to get close up to the cattails that line the first part of the river. There were a lot of little fish here that kept jumping up as I paddled to eat some of the bugs hovering above the waters surface.
Then, I headed back to the launch site. It was calmer than when I headed out so I enjoyed a minute on the still water, watching the train pass by.
Other Tips to Remember
Kayaking the Croton River is a great escape to get into nature, swim, and have some fun! But, don’t forget, wear your PFD and sunscreen, follow all park rules and signage, and enjoy your day!
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