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Kayak Pittsburgh closes rentals at Aspinwall Riverfront Park

Tawnya Panizzi

Kayaking enthusiasts might be disappointed to learn rentals will no longer be available at Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

After five years at the site off Freeport Road, Kayak Pittsburgh will not return this summer, officials said.

“It was a beautiful space but we weren’t getting enough traffic,” said Ebony Montgomery, director of development and communications.

Kayak Pittsburgh is a rental facility where people, beginners to pros, can get out on the water. One-hour rentals start at $16 on weekdays.

Operated by Venture Outdoors, Kayak Pittsburgh has two other locations, in North Park and on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

In Aspinwall, the kayak launch was tucked behind the Norfolk Southern rail lines and wasn’t readily visible to passersby.

“If you didn’t know it was back there, it was kind of hard to find,” Montgomery said.

Park Executive Director Susan Crookston said she’s grateful to have worked with Venture Outdoors over the years to provide kayak rentals on weekends during the summer.

Her team is seeking a new partner to offer and expand kayak rentals, she said.

“Our goal is to make this opportunity to rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards more widely available so that it’s just not on weekends and can last into the early fall,” Crookston said. “In the the meantime, the park offers a free place for people to launch their nonmotorized boats, and we’d like everyone to enjoy our beautiful river.

“It’s important though that people wear life jackets, row upstream, away from the dam and stay aware of the currents and water level. Sometimes the water looks calm when it is not.”

Aspinwall Riverfront Park is a 10-acre property that sits between the Allegheny River and Aspinwall’s commercial corridor. There is an an open-air pavilion, fishing dock, dog park and playground.

Last year, when covid-19 regulations were more strict, park leaders touted kayaking as a way to enjoy the river while easily adhering to social distancing rules.

Anyone looking to get out on the water won’t have to wait long. Kayak Pittsburgh’s opening weekend at North Park is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 22-23.

Starting Memorial Day, hours vary throughout the week.

On the North Shore, operations are scheduled to open June 5.

For more, or to reserve an appointment, visit ventureoutdoors.org/kayak-pittsburgh.