North Park attracts water athletes


Karen Waldron

Dave York waits for friends to arrive at the park for the first paddle board meetup of the year.

Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

Dave York prefers paddle boarding at North Park on warm mornings on the weekend. He often brings a cooler with drinks to keep him refreshed.

“I got into paddle boarding when I saw my friends doing it, I thought it looked cool,” says York, 42. “It’s more versatile than kayaking. You can stand, kneel, sit, lay down and catch some sun. I like to tie a cooler to mine.”

York, head of Pittsburgh Stand Up Paddle Boarding Meetup, is a local waterway athlete that encourages everyone to give paddle boarding a try.

“It’s easy to start paddle boarding. It works your legs and feet the most. After the first two or three times, you’re used to it,” York explains.

According to York, paddle boarding is great for family outings as well. “I have a 6 and 10-year-old at home. My 6-year-old likes to sit on the front of my board, or I’ll tie an inner tube to the back and he’ll just float on with me.”

York hosts meetups with anyone who’s interested on North Park Lake, usually on Saturday mornings. The local county park includes a lake that spans almost 75 acres. The lake draws plenty of attraction when it comes to waterway recreation and sports.

York comes equipped with one extra paddle board, free to the first person who shows up and wants to try, as well as a vest and a safety leash.

“We don’t come out here to see how far we can get or anything like that. We just like to go out on the lake and relax, paddle around a bit, catch some sun and get away from all the stress. Beginners are always welcome, and I’d love to teach them anything they need to know to start out.” Anyone can reach out for more information by looking up the group through

“The best tips I could give beginners, the first thing they teach you, is to paddle with your core, not your arms. You get much more power that way. It’s also much easy to go on a lake, where the water is calm. Oh, and an important thing to remember is that if you decide to go out in a state park, you’re required to have a life vest and a whistle with you. It’s a full-body workout for sure, but it’s a great way to relax more than anything else.”

York explains that everything he knows about paddle boarding, he learned from Surf’s Up Adventures. “They have eco tours, they do white water instruction, and they have yoga groups. It’s great for beginners who’ve never tried it before because they also have classes.”

Sarah Beleski is a local kayak enthusiast, who frequents the lake during summer when she’s home from college. “I love to kayak. It’s easy to do, and you can get into it anytime you want,” she says. “It can be as wild as white water at Ohio Pyle, or as relaxed as just paddling around and enjoying the sun on the lake.”

Most kayaks are between $150 and $250, but Beleski found hers on Facebook Marketplace for $50.
“I like to go out on the lake on weekends. There are more people out on the water, and you can socialize with other kayakers and meet some cool people. You see a lot of people who bring their dogs out on the lake, too.”

Beleski recommends that if you want to try kayaking, rent a kayak through the North Park Boat House for your first time out on the water. “Rentals open May 1st, and it’s pretty reasonable with pricing, too. I’ve seen a lot of people try it once and absolutely fall in love with it.”

Kayak Pittsburgh, a project of Venture Outdoors, runs the rental program through the Boathouse just off Pearce Mill Road at the heart of North Park. Rentals are charged per hour. Kayak rates range from $16 to $24.50 an hour. Paddle boards may only be rented for an hour at a time but have a flat rate of $25.

Beleski and York seem to agree: “Once you find how peaceful it is to be out in the water, it’s addicting!”