Try Stand-Up Paddleboarding in the New River Gorge

If you're looking for fun way to spend a day on the lake, try stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).

stand-up paddleboarding

The family-friendly water sport is easy to learn, and can be as laid-back or aggressive as you make it.

Getting started

You'll need gear:

  • a board. The board you use looks sort of like a surf board. You carry it on its side, under your arm to keep from scratching it. (There is a grip in the middle of the board.)
  • a long paddle
  • a PFD jacket, in case you fall into the water.

…so you may also have guessed you should wear a bathing suit, or something else you don't mind possibly getting a little wet.

Both ACE Rafting Resort and Adventures on the Gorge offer guided trips to Summersville Lake, which provide all the equipment you'll need.

Standing Up

The hardest part when you first get on the water is standing up. The best thing to do is begin on your hands and knees, feeling the board out. Position your self just a bit further back than the center, and get a feel for the balance of the board. You want the tips on both ends to remain above the water, not dipping.

Once you feel like you have a handle on how to stay sturdy, stand one foot at a time, putting your feet where your knees are.

Try to stay centered, with your feet shoulder-length apart, in a strong stance. Keep your back straight, but bend your knees slightly.


When you paddle, keep the paddle shaft as straight as possible and lean a little to the side you're paddling on. This will help you keep the board moving straight forward.

For a powerful pull, make sure the paddle is angled so the wide side is cutting through the water to propel you. Also, try to pull with your torso, not just your arms. This will not only put more power into your stroke, it will also keep your arms from getting too tired.

If you want to turn a certain direction, paddle continually on the opposite side.

Out on the Lake

You can paddle out to a nice spot, and stop for a break. Sit on your board, have a drink of water, get out and swim around. The cliffs around Summersville Lake are great for a short climb.  SUP can be very leisurely.

Some people even do SUP yoga. Test your balance with a few poses.

Sometimes boats might cause a few ripples in the surface, but they will not usually be enough to topple you. Keep paddling and your momentum will help you break through the little waves easily.

River SUP

More experienced paddlers can also try whitewater SUP on the smaller rapids of the river. Yes, people do have enough balance to take their boards through rapids! It's an amazing skill.

However you enjoy your SUP adventure, you're sure to get the hang of the basics on your first trip out. It takes some concentration at times, but lake SUP is a very simple sport the whole family can enjoy.

Have you been SUPing?