Last Updated on June 4, 2019 by Jeremy
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Moraine State Park is one of our favorite parks in the area as it is quite large, accessible in about 45 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, and offers a wealth of things to do when visiting both on and off the water.
On a recent visit, I got to try out something that I've been eyeing for quite some time- stand up paddleboarding with SurfSUP Adventures. I've got to say, this one was a ton of fun!
SurfSUP Adventures Makes Stand Up Paddleboarding a Breeze
I'm never one to turn down an opportunity to do something adventurous, but I was always a little hesitant about stand up paddleboarding (SUP)- specifically revolving around my ability to balance on the water. Sitting down in a kayak at North Park or white water rafting in Ohiopyle, I'm fine. But standing up, well, bad things happen.
The good news is that within moments of arriving at Moraine State Park, our instructor at SurfSUP Adventures did everything to make the group at ease- offering numerous tips and advice on how to stand up, stay balanced, and excel at this watersport.
And I've got to say, stand up paddleboarding is actually quite easy with just a bit of focused advice.
The hardest part of stand up paddleboarding is, naturally, standing up for the first time. It takes a brief moment to get onto the paddleboard, orient yourself on your knees, and then slowly stand up, and everyone in our group got this part within moments.
It is a bit weird to say, but the paddle is actually quite useful in helping with balance, even if it doesn't seem to be possible on the surface (you are just sticking it in the water, after all). I definitely felt the raft's movements under me for a few minutes, but after a while it simply became natural and we were off (although two members of our group decided to stay seated for the trip- also acceptable).
One of the perks of going with this company is that, on our outing at least, all of the paddleboards were inflatable. It may not seem like much, but I think this helped a ton with everyone keeping their balance as knocking into another border or a bush had virtually no shock whatsoever- just a light tap that barely affected anyone's balance.
Despite the fact that no one in our group had done stand up paddleboarding before, we all made it back to shore without a single person falling into the water (although one member did fall on their board).
What You Can See Paddleboarding at Moraine State Park
As you may well know, Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park is massive. The park itself is over 16,000 acres, and the lake accounts for approximately 3,000 acres of that area- allowing for a number of great places to visit be it on the shore or in the water.
One of the best parts about this lake is that it motorized boats are limited to 20 HP. This means that only smaller boats can operate (minimizing pollution), and allows for accessibility for watersports like swimming, kayaking, and, you guessed it, stand up paddleboarding without having to content with crazy wakes from passing boats.
During our outing on the north shore of Moraine State Park, we made our way to a little inlet nestled between the trees that is best visited with those in kayaks or SUP. This particular spot is home to numerous large boulders, a small cave, and a beaver dam at the end- plus many spring wildflowers visible in our late-May visit.
As we received several inches of rain in the days prior to my visit, the cave was, sadly, flooded. However, the water was also crested over the beaver dam which allowed us to explore even further to a point that even our guide said he had not visited in many years.
It was a peaceful experience and offered one of those vantage points that you really have to be in a kayak or paddleboard to appreciate.
On the way back to shore we passed by an osprey nest that is featured on a live webcam to see the gorgeous birds and their babies, all while learning more about Butler County, Moraine State Park, and the wildlife of the area.
When it comes down to it, I was quite surprised with how easy stand up paddleboarding is, and I attribute a lot of that to the skill of the instructor. But going further, this one is fun. It'll be hard to want to go out on the water in a traditional boat after this one.
SurfSUP Adventures offers scheduled tours in Moraine State Park from spring until the end of fall; however, is often available for tours year-round with advanced notice. I was hosted via the Butler County Visitors Bureau for this experience. As always, all opinions are my own. Photos in this story are a mix of my own and provided courtesy of SurfSUP Adventures (as noted above).
On your way back from Moraine State Park, be sure to grab a Yeti from The Snowman Portersville!