Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is the fastest growing sport around the world — and in Edmonton — right now for good reason. It’s easy, there’s a low learning curve, and most people can jump on a board their first time out with no previous experience or lessons. It’s also a great family sport because parents can take turns out on the water while the children play at the beach. Once you build up a bit of confidence, you can also start taking the kids out with you on your board. I was able to paddle with my son sitting on the front of my board within 15 minutes of trying SUP for the first time and we enjoy paddling together around shallow swimming areas. School-aged kids and teens will also be able to try paddling by themselves on a shorter board making SUP a great sport for the whole family to participate in together.
Before you visit your first lake, you’ll need to get yourself equipped with a board, paddle, and PFD. The basic rule of thumb for choosing a board as a novice paddler, is the bigger the better. The wider and longer your board, the more stable you will be and the more weight you will be able to safely place on your board. While a 10’ board may be big enough for a smaller adult, it might not have enough buoyancy for an additional family member riding with you or a larger spouse taking turns with the board. I recommend getting a board that’s at least 11 to 12’ in length and 31-33” in center width when you first get started.
The Leduc Boat Club rents boards on Telford Lake in the town of Leduc just south of the city. This is a great way to try SUP for the first time without having to rent and transport a board to your chosen destination.
For stand up paddleboarding close to home within the city limits of Edmonton itself, try the main pond in Hermitage Park or the ponds in Rundle Park. The Edmonton Paddling Centre Society operates a canoe/kayak centre in Rundle Park but otherwise, you will have to rent a SUP package at one of the many outdoor stores in Edmonton and transport it to your site.
For families that like camping, try renting a board for a weekend and take it with you to popular beach destinations like Gull Lake, Pigeon Lake, or Sylvan Lake. Guaranteed you will be the most popular family on the beach as everybody wants to borrow the board and take the kids for tours around the swimming area. Even the kids will be begging to try their hand at paddling on the board and may surprise you at their balance and skill.
Wherever you choose to paddle, know that mornings are always the best time to paddle and that strong winds can pick up on big lakes in the afternoon. It is recommended that you try SUP on a calm day when you are first trying to work on your balance and paddling technique. Many lakes also see motor boat traffic so it is advised to stick close to shore when learning or paddling with children.
Good luck and have fun! I hope to see you out on one of the local lakes this summer.