The Hudson is a complex river with many factors for a paddler to consider. Tides, wind, currents, commercial ships and large, fast recreational boats, and unpredictably swift weather changes can quickly turn a pleasant outing into a potential tragedy. We strongly recommend that you educate yourself about the river before launching any watercraft.
The Hudson River Water Trail Association has published an excellent book entitled The Hudson River Water Trail Guide with a very good section on safety. You may purchase the Guide, or it also comes as a benefit of membership with the Hudson River Water Trail Association (HRWA.org).
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT FOR ALL PADDLERS
Although marshes and tributary streams along the Hudson River make for attractive destinations, and some are readily accessible with no barriers to navigation (such as Schodack Creek), paddlers should be aware that other areas are not easily accessible at some tide levels.
- Bridge heights above water vary with the tide.
- Underwater obstructions that can flip a boat may not be visible just under the surface.
- Paddlers are cautioned to review The Hudson River Water Trail Guide and an official NOAA chart for ANY known locations of these obstructions.
Conditions on the Hudson can vary greatly, ranging from calm water to extremely rough conditions that are impossible to navigate. Poor conditions can be caused by strong tidal currents, wind, and/or severe weather. Any of these can worsen suddenly and without warning. Because the Hudson is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, a boat that is designed to be used in sea conditions is recommended.
Paddlers must carry all appropriate safety gear. Kayaks and canoes are very difficult for other mariners to see. Keep an eye out for powerboats and other fast-moving watercraft. Ocean-going ships and tugboats with barges navigate a winding shipping channel marked by U.S. Coast Guard-maintained buoys. Avoid the channel, or cross it at right angles if necessary. See www.uscgboating.org for safety information and NOAA for tide and current information.
Paddling in the spring and fall is lovely, but one of the lesser-known dangers of paddling during colder weather is cold-water immersion. Charles Sutherland's excellent brochure Cold Water Boating should be required reading for all paddlers and boaters.
We have published a series of four detailed, color maps to assist paddlers in planning their route on the Water Trail. Each map shows a different section of the Water Trail and they can be purchased as a set of four, or individually.