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Is it really as easy as it looks? It’s time to find out. Start with one of these great places to stand up and paddle.
With an abundance of lazy, meandering rivers, pristine mountain lakes, and world-class whitewater, the Blue Ridge region is truly a paddler’s paradise. And while the region’s scenic waterways have long been popular for kayaking, canoeing, and boating, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has been taking the region by storm in recent years, drawing both beginners and seasoned paddlers who are looking for a fun way to stay fit while enjoying nature’s splendor.
Aside from offering a full-body workout, SUP is a unique way to explore, says Melanie Seiler, an American Canoe Association-certified SUP instructor and the ACA’s state director for West Virginia.
“You’re looking down on the water, so it’s an interesting vantage point,” she says. “Being that high up, you can see the bottom of the river or lake, and it’s amazing the fish and other wildlife you can see. And it’s fun because you can almost sneak up on them.”
Right, Set, Paddle!
Want to SUP? Here are four of the best places to stand-up paddle board in the Blue Ridge region:
Lake Blue Ridge, Georgia
Just outside the city of Blue Ridge, crystal-clear waters and lush scenery draw paddlers to Lake Blue Ridge, where 65 miles of shoreline – 80 percent of which are in the Chattahoochee National Forest – await exploration.
“You get a completely unhampered mountain view,” says Chris Tilghman, owner of Surf Blue Ridge. “And we have absolutely gorgeous sunsets.” Besides offering SUP rentals, Tilghman leads lessons and excursions including guided fishing trips, botanical hikes, and sunset sessions on Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River that feeds it.
Surf Blue Ridge: surfblueridge-sup.com; 706-889-8747
Fannin County Chamber of Commerce and Welcome Center:
Asheville, North Carolina
The scenic French Broad River, which runs right through Asheville, is the city’s most popular place to SUP, according to Anna Levesque, an ACA-certified SUP instructor, registered yoga teacher and the owner of Mind Body Paddle and Girls at Play. Levesque’s favorite route involves paddling upstream on the French Broad from Hominy Creek Park up to the Biltmore Estate and then doing yoga on the way back downriver.
“It’s a great workout and a beautiful stretch of river,” she says. Levesque leads SUP yoga classes, guided tours, and whitewater workshops on the French Broad River.
Mind Body Paddle: mindbodypaddle.com; 828-333-4482
Girls at Play: watergirlsatplay.com; 828-333-4482
Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau: exploreasheville.com; 828-258-6129