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Five Dream Paddling Trips to Take with Dad

Exploring waterways both near and far is a rewarding experience.

Exploring waterways both near and far is a rewarding experience. Whether you’re out for the day or on the water for an extended trip, camping along the way, it’s an escape from the noise, pace, and screens of everyday life. It’s also a great way to spend some quality time and stay active with family, so in honor of Father’s day we rounded up five dream paddling trips that we wouldn’t want to take with anyone else than dear old dad. 

Photo by Katie Boué Read more at REI

Gulf Coast Mangrove Swamp


Where: Siesta Key, Florida

When to Go: Early spring, late fall  

Why It Made the List: A unique biome that offers easy-going paddling adventures

You might envision South American coasts when you think of mangroves, but the US Gulf Coast has a wealth of them, and at the top of our bucket list is Siesta Key off the Florida coast. The atmosphere of mangrove swamps is unlike any other thanks to the way the trees form tunnels over the waterways, with finger-like roots that rise out of the water and then extend into a thick overhead canopy. They might elicit a little bit of claustrophobia for some, but they’re the perfect place to spend an early spring or late fall afternoon with plenty of shade to stay cool. Paddle the Inlet, Haven or Beach LT

Photo by Jim Brandenburg - Read more at savetheboundarywaters

Where: Northern Illinois 

When to Go: Late spring, early fall

Why It Made the List: Super accessible, bucket list-level kayak adventures to be had 

With over 1200 miles of canoe- and kayak-friendly waterways and over a million acres of pristine nature to explore, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is an outdoorsman’s dream. It’s a paradise for paddlers, whether you want to put in just for the day or plan an extended trip exploring the wilderness by kayak. Glaciers carved out the wilderness ten thousand years ago, leaving behind massive rock formations, rocky shores, sandy beaches, and hundreds of lakes and waterways that are ripe for exploration. Before you go, check out this handy guide for trip planning provided by the Forest Service. Paddle the Haven or the Beach LT.


Where: Maine

When to Go: Spring and summer, but early fall you’ll have the place to yourself if you can brave the cold

Why It Made the List: Everyone should see Maine’s rugged coastline at once in their lives

The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) has long seen coastal Maine as a nautical trail. You can hop from island to island along the 375 miles between New Hampshire and Canada. In the same spirit as PCT and AT though-hikers, some adventurers “through-paddle” the whole trail, but most take their time exploring it in sections. If we had to choose just one section, it would definitely be the Deer Isle Archipelago. The string of islands embody Maine’s famous coastal character, a combination of craggy granite cliffs, majestic forests, and soft sand beaches. Perfect for an overnighter or even an extended camping trip across multiple islands. Paddle the Coast XT or the Bay ST.


Where: The Great Lakes 

When to Go: Summer, plus shoulder months

Why It Made the List: Choose your own adventure with a whopping 90,000+ square miles of water to explore

The Great Lakes promise a bounty of secret islands to those who paddle between the lines. As the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, covering more area of the Earth’s surface than any other, they offer untold possibilities for discovering pristine islands to camp on after an enjoyable day of paddling. The Great Lakes are large enough to generate substantial waves — nothing like the ocean, and they’re only caused by wind, but enough to give any paddling trip out onto their waters an enjoyable sense of adventure. Paddle the Bay ST.

Where: Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

When to Go: Summer

Why It Made the List: Epic glaciers, enough said

A few of the destinations on this list owe their unique geography to glaciers and their movements over thousands of years, but Glacier Bay is the only one that offers the opportunity to paddle out to see an active glacier up close and personal. An exploratory kayak journey through Glacier Bay is akin to a pilgrimage to see one living, moving force of Mother Nature — kin to those that formed some of the most breathtaking outdoor spaces in the world — and commune with the living glacier. It’ll take a little extra planning, with permits and outfitting and weather forecasts, but trust us, it’ll be worth it. Paddle the Coast XT.