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Urban Adventure: Kayaking at Maclay Gardens


By Ashley Hopkins

Recently I found myself car-less on a gorgeous Tallahassee Saturday, itching to get out for some kayaking. Thanks to Star Metro and Maclay Gardens State Park, I was able to hit the water right here in town!


Maclay Gardens State Park is a gorgeous nature getaway nestled just north of I-10 on Thomasville Road, across the street from the large Killearn Estates entrance. The Star Metro Dogwood line was the easiest way for me to get there from Midtown. When you drive (or in my case, bike) through the park gates, you feel like you are entering a new world, a perfectly preserved oasis just a 

stones throw away from the city life.

When entering the park gates, let the ranger know you are there to paddle so you can pay and get your gear. Be sure to bring your driver’s license - you’ll need it to rent a boat. For 4 hours, a single kayak was $15 and a double was $20. When I went, a ranger was available to drive my gear in his truck over to the lake recreation area since it wasn’t the easiest to juggle while bike riding.

Paddling action happens on Lake Hall, which is the first right turn after passing through the park gates. At the foot of the recreation area - complete with playground, shade tree and an abundance of picnics tables and covered shelters - there is the roped off swimming area and the boat dock. My lime green single kayak was waiting for me on the sandy shore and within minutes of arriving, I was off on the water, exploring the lake. Most of the lake shore is privately owned so paddlers must stay off the shore aside from the recreation area. That didn’t stop me from having a delightful 2 hours on the water: paddling, pausing, resting to read out on the middle of the lake. It was delightful! And well worth the investment.

Don’t let the city life fool you into thinking a gorgeous day in a kayak on the water is out of the question. When you’re ready to hit the water, grab the sunscreen and make your way over to Maclay!


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