In an effort to squeeze just a few more fun outings from our summer, we decided to head out this weekend on an outdoor adventure. My husband’s co worker had done some stand up paddleboarding at Morgan Falls Overlook Park in Sandy Springs, Georgia (a northern metro Atlanta city) so we decided to give that a try. If you aren’t familiar with stand up paddle boarding, it is sort of a cross between kayaking and surfing. You are standing on a board with one oar in your hand that you use to navigate your way around a lake or slow moving river. It was honestly an amazing experience and one I hope we get to repeat soon. If you are looking for outdoor activities near Atlanta, I definitely recommend you give this a shot!
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Stand Up Paddleboarding at Morgan Falls Overlook Park
If you think that stand up paddleboarding sounds like something you might enjoy, I thought I would provide a few tips that we learned from our own experience. This is a great family experience but probably best for older kids. It takes a fair amount of skill and balance to stay upright and navigate around using the oar. I’m not sure if younger kids would be able to do it successfully but all kids are different. So, here are a few things to keep in mind about stand up paddleboarding:
Pack appropriately for a day on the water: That means sunscreen, towels, bathing suits under quick dry workout style clothes, sunglasses and hat attached with a string just in case you take a swim. Pack a cooler for when you get back to the car with snacks and water.
Get a demo or make sure someone is there to instruct you. Getting on and off stand up paddleboards requires a very specific set of movements. Stay on your knees until you feel more steady on the board and you are far enough away from the dock that you won’t crack your skull open if you fall in. Listen to your instructor….they probably have some great tips!
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Where the right footwear: Do not attempt to master stand up paddle boarding in flip flops or bare feet. Obviously you don’t want to wear sneakers. We found that strap on, open weave shoes shown above worked great. You can find similar footwear at most outdoor adventure type shops.
It’s not as easy as it looks: When you watch people stand up paddleboarding, they look like they are just meandering around out there quite easily. It actually takes a fair amount of strength, coordination and balance to master that board and make it go where you want it to. The water at Morgan Falls Overlook Park that we were paddleboarding on is actually a damned up portion of the Chattahoochee River called Blue Sluice Lake. There is a light current that will very gently move you in a particular direction. That is great until you want to go AGAINST the current. Then you need to add a bit of muscle to your paddling! It isn’t really HARD but I was a touch sore the next day. Mainly those core muscles front and back that are helping you paddle against the current!
Practice paddling before you stand up! Since we have a kayak and have done ‘paddling sports’ before, we were already familiar with the mechanics of paddling. Going forward is obviously fairly easy to master. However, when you want to TURN with a paddle you will need to learn a few tricks and have a slight understanding of the physics of motion to be successful. Ask your guide to instruct you or check out the Stand Up Paddleboarding pages on REI.com.
You very well may end up in the lake! Please excuse the very horrible photo up there but I was working with an iPhone from half way across the lake on a shaky paddleboard. You will probably get wet on your little adventure. My son ended up completely in the lake once and my daughter fell twice but managed to actually face plant right on the board both times. That will teach her to try stand up paddleboarding YOGA! Yes, people actually do yoga on stand up paddleboards. Crazy, huh? There is a class offered at Morgan Falls Overlook Park if that is your thing, however I am nowhere NEAR that agile!
Since you will probably end up wet, take care with electronics! My iPhone stayed in a plastic bag most of the journey, only to come out occasionally for a photo op when I felt very secure on my feet!
Overall, our stand up paddleboarding experience was amazing. The lake was gorgeous, the paddling was fun with just a hint of exercise, and both kids really had an awesome time. This is definitely an adventure I will be doing again. If you find yourself in Georgia and are looking for things to do in Atlanta I recommend you check out stand up paddleboarding!
Have you ever been stand up paddleboarding?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.