Summertime means enjoying the outdoors and the opportunities it provides to do something good for your body. If you love the fresh air and warm breezes, you have an array of exercise options that don’t involve sweating in the gym.
Don’t like to sweat at all? No problem! You can get amazing fitness benefits in the water! You’ll be cool and refreshed while staying active.
Glad you asked! In New York state, we’re lucky that we have a wealth of resources for outdoor adventures. Have you tried out our area’s plentiful walking and hiking trails? What about a low-cost swimming spot that’s just a short distance from where you are? If you want to enjoy nature, maximize your summer, and experience our region’s many waterways, check out our handy map below for some ideas on where to go and what to do.
= Canoeing and kayaking in New York
= Paddling in New York
= Swimming in New York
Most cardio exercises tend to focus on the lower body – jogging, walking, and other activities designed to get your body in motion are mostly powered by the legs. But, kayaking is one cardiovascular exercise that is powered by the arms, chest, back, abdominals, and shoulders. Your legs stabilize you, while your upper body muscles work to paddle against the resistance from the water.
One hour of kayaking can burn more than 350 calories!
A good kayaking session can decrease fat, increase lean muscle mass, and create more efficient oxygen consumption.
Here are some fun and beautiful spots to canoe and kayak in New York state:
Black River – North Lake to Lake Ontario, NY
White water rafting and kayaking are popular, especially in the Black River Canyon, which has white water flow throughout the summer.
Cedar River Flow – Indian Lake, NY
The Cedar River Flow is part of the Moose River Plain Wild Forest, which has a remote feel but is popular for kayak or canoe trips.
Grass River – St. Lawrence County, NY
To travel the length of the river by kayak would be a full-day trip of about 12 miles. The south branch of the Grass River is 16 miles.
Indian River – Indian Lake, NY
Indian Lake is known as the white water capital of NY. The town of Indian Lake opens the river dam specifically for the three-mile white water rafting and kayak expeditions that travel through.
Kunjamuk River – Speculator, NY
The Kunjamuk River, one of the most pristine rivers in the Adirondack Park, follows a narrow course upstream five miles to Elm Lake, where the views are far and wide.
Zoar Valley – Erie and Cattaraugus counties, NY
Several companies in Zoar Valley offer rafting trips, and hand-carried water crafts can be launched from the Cattaraugus Creek Waterway Access on North Otto Road. The area is popular for rafting and white water kayaking on class 2 through class 4 rapids.
Fulton Chain Lakes—Old Forge, NY
This chain of eight lakes allows boaters to access them from Old Forge through dams and portages.
Grass Point State Park – Alexandria Bay, NY
In addition to canoeing and kayaking, Grass Point State Park offers some of the best fishing in the state. Beachfront areas, camp sites, picnic areas, and boat rental accommodations are available.
Niagara River – Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, NY
Seasonal changes make paddling the Niagara River an adventure, based on the time of year when you travel.
It may be the trendy way to enjoy the water, but it’s not a gimmick – the benefits are real! Paddling, which includes stand-up paddling, is low-impact cardiovascular exercise that’s a good option for anyone who needs to rehabilitate after an injury or is working to improve endurance and balance. It’s a full-body workout, too. Leg muscles stabilize your center of gravity; core, back, and abdominal muscles are maintaining balance; and arms, back, and shoulders are propelling the paddleboard through the water. You’ll be tired afterward, but you’ll feel great.
Check out these places for paddleboarding and flatwater paddling in New York:
Bond Lake Park – Ramsonville, NY
Bond Lake Park offers paddlers five different lakes throughout the park to explore.
Burnt Ship & Woods Creek – Grand Island, NY
While primarily used for canoeing, this trail is also accessible for flatwater paddling from April to October.
Lake Lila – Long Lake, NY
This remote lake in the Adirondack Park offers paddlers a true wilderness destination. Be prepared for a quarter-mile portage from the parking area to the launch. Motor use is prohibited.
Paradox Lake – Paradox, NY
A smooth, pristine lake located in the Schroon Lake area, visitors can launch their own boat or rent a canoe at the campground located on Route 74.
Essex Chain Lakes – Newcomb, NY
The Essex Chain Lakes is made up of numerous lakes and ponds. Paddlers can spend the day or camp overnight at one of the designated free campsites.
Upper West Branch of Sacandaga River – Arietta, NY
The west branch of the Sacandaga River near the Stoner Lakes provides beautiful flatwater paddling through marshes surrounded by mountains.
Irondequoit Creek — Ellison Park to Irondequoit Bay, NY
You can rent canoes, kayaks, and up to 30 varieties of paddleboards along the Irondequoit Creek.
Chenango River — Earlville to Norwich, NY
The average gradient is less than four feet per mile as the Chenango River meets the Susquehanna River, making it one of the gentlest slopes for paddling in the state.
Kinderhook Lake — Columbia County, NY
This is known for being one of the most picturesque recreational areas in New York.
Raquette River – St. Lawrence, NY
The river is broken up into four segments—Upper River, Upper Impoundments, Middle River, and Lower River—and offers a pleasurable excursion for paddlers of all experience levels.
Saint Regis Wilderness Canoe Area – Saranac, NY
This area offers several remote and unconfined paddling opportunities.
Because the human body becomes lighter when submerged in water, you can work stiff muscles and sore joints without as much stress. If you immerse yourself to the waist, your lower body is bearing only half its normal weight. If you’re in chest-deep water, you only have to lift about 25 percent to 35 percent of your weight to get an aerobic workout. That means if you have arthritis, are overweight, or suffer from stiff joints, a dip in the water might help strengthen your muscles without the pain.
Thirty minutes of exercise a day, such as swimming, can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent. [American Heart Association]
Here’s a list of unique places to swim in New York:
Peekamoose Blue Hole – on Rondout Creek, Sundown, NY
One of the many swimming holes in the Hudson Valley, Peekamoose features a deep swimming hole with a rope swing and was ranked one of “America’s Top Five Swimming Holes” by GrindTV.
Hudson Valley Swimming Holes – Ulster and Dutchess counties, NY
Local swimming holes are listed by county. Some locations feature scenic waterfalls.
Enfield Falls (lower) – Ithaca, NY
Swimmers can enjoy a stream-fed pool beneath a waterfall.
Shanty Brook – Wells, NY
Dubbed “unforgettable” by I Love NY, this secluded spot in the Adirondack Park has large trees and a 12-foot waterfall.
The Big Deep – Woodstock, NY
This is a true, natural-water attraction that’s a favorite among locals and tourists.
Skinny Dip Falls – Chautauqua County, NY
Skinny Dip Falls is seven feet high and has a 45-foot-wide crest. As the name might suggest, a designated nudist area is located within the falls but is only one section of the swimming area.
Covered Bridge swimming hole – Lake Placid, NY
Huge shade trees and a covered bridge make up the scenery when you take a dip in this deep swimming hole. Flat ledges are available for relaxing, reading, or warming up in the sun.
Chapel Pond – Keene, NY
This pond has a sandy beach on the east end and is small enough to swim across.
Marcy Field swimming hole – Lake Placid, NY
This flat-water swimming area is ideal for young children.
Esopus Creek – Saugerties, NY
Situated on more than a mile of Hudson River waterfront, this spot features dramatic waterfalls and swimming areas in a nature preserve.
For more ideas on where to go to beat the heat and reap the many health benefits swimming offers, check out our post on local no- or low-cost swimming spots.