Paddle boarding, climbing and enjoying watching at the same time

Paddle boarding, climbing and enjoying watching at the same time

Although rafting trips on the Gauley and the New River and the zip line experiences are the biggest draw to Adventures on the Gorge in West Virginia, (see Thrills for All, Part I) there are more ways to tap into one’s adventurous spirit and spend time with family.

For a combination of relaxation and fun, particularly when there are a variety of interests and skill levels among your companions, Lake Adventures is a perfect option. This multi-sport, family-friendly trip includes a van ride from Adventures on the Gorge’s parking lot to the boat dock at Summersville Lake and a pontoon boat ride to cliffs at one of the lake’s edges.

One of the pontoon boats by the waterfall

One of the pontoon boats by the waterfall

From here, the do-it-yourself adventures begin depending upon your determination and skill set. Fortunately, skills can be easily acquired–kind of. It sure was fun trying and I discovered skills I didn’t know I had.

The pontoon boat is a floating playground of sorts. Kayaks and paddle boards give opportunities for a strike out on your own across the lake while others try their hand at rock climbing and rappelling. Those content to just take in the beauty of the scenery can stay on the pontoon boat and watch. Basically, no one in the group is left with nothing to do.

kyle standing on headThanks to the expert tutelage of Kyle, the main guide of these adventures, whose skill set includes standing on his head on a paddle board, I was able to scale the cliff to stand on the top ledge.

Of course, I did have my doubts that I’d make it, particularly when I had just enough energy to lay my cheek on the ledge for a rest a bit, and thought, “Why don’t I just hang out here?” before Kyle shouted out from below, “Now, it’s just like pulling yourself up out of a swimming pool.”

I didn’t think I could pull myself up out of a swimming pool. Amazingly enough, I did have enough strength to give myself a heave ho up over the top for the treat of the spectacular view of the crystal clear lake and a rush of accomplishment.

Kyle is an expert in getting one down off of a cliff as well. Rappelling is as much of a blast as climbing and gravity is your friend. If you are willing to climb twice, for the second time up, Kyle goes up first to take your picture.

I also tried paddle boarding–another success if one doesn’t count the face plant in the water when I lost my balance. The kayaking experience is a breeze. I could have paddled around Summersville Lake for hours.

Climbing up for a photo op thanks to Kyle

Climbing up for a photo op thanks to Kyle

One of our traveling companions added to his adventure by paddling to another part of the cliff where you could jump into the lake, and the family (father and two kids) who traveled on the 2nd pontoon boat that was part of our trip, paddled to the small waterfall in a cove to jump in the lake from there.

For people traveling with friends and family, I highly recommend this outing because of the variety and chance to visit with each other. One does not have to be in great shape to find an activity you can do.

Two ways to paddle board. Sit and enjoy or stand. Kneeling is another option.

Two ways to paddle board. Sit and enjoy or stand. Kneeling is another option.

Kayaking could not be easier, and I ended up impressed with myself that I managed to rock climb. And even though I dumped off the paddle board with an impressive splash, and my daughter had to hold it so I could get back on, paddle boarding and succeeding gave me a thrill as well. Leaving pride behind helps.

If You Go:

To book a Lake Adventures trip, go to the link at the Adventures on the Gorge website or call (855) 379-8738. In a two or three day Adventures on the Gorge trip, combining rafting, zip-lining and a Lake Adventures experience is a vacation you will talk about for years.

Lake Adventures can be a half-day ($119) or a full-day ($159) experience. The minimum age is 8. These trips run in the summer so start planning that vacation now. Full-day experiences include lunch. As always, check the website for current pricing.

Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein

My daughter and I were treated to this experience thanks to Adventures on the Gorge but the opinions are my own. This trip was fantastic and one I have told many people about–the last time was just yesterday to a family who likes adventure travel.