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Paddle your way through Lake Lanier
By: Gainesville Times Paddling the waters of Lake Lanier is a peaceful way to explore the area’s natural beauty. From fish underwater to deer, waterfowl, beavers and ducks, it’s easy to see a variety of animal and plant life in and around the lake. And several areas, including on Lake Lanier, offer options to paddleboard, kayak or canoe. Based at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville, the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club is expanding its paddleboard options. The club recently purchased six new stand-up paddleboards, bringing the total number of SUPs to 10. “It’s a unique way to enjoy the outdoors and is also a full-body workout,” said David Haack, paddle sport coordinator at Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club of SUPs. “Learning to paddleboard is easy and most people can start paddling in a few minutes.” The new boards mean new opportunities for the club that rents SUPs, kayaks and canoes out of its location at 3105 Clarks Bridge Road in Gainesville. The area around the Olympic park includes a large no-wake zone, making it easier for paddlers to share the water with motorized boats. “There’s some boat traffic, but not what you see in the southern end of the lake, there’s less waves,” said Jill Haack, who helps her husband David Haack with the paddling programs at the club. The club offers moonlight and sunrise paddles. During moonlight paddles participants get a glow stick and take a guided tour around an island in Lake Lanier. These paddles take place once a month and are usually planned around a full moon. Some guided tours go past the tower that served as the finish line at the 1996 Olympic Games for canoe and kayak events. “There’s so much history there,” Jill Haack said of the tower. All equipment is provided and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants must wear a personal flotation device. Participants are asked to arrive by 7:30 p.m. for paddles May through August and 6:30 p.m. in September and October. Children younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent. Moonlight paddles for the remainder of the year are July 22, Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Oct. 14. Sunrise paddles are held at 6 a.m. Tuesdays for $20. An adult Learn to Kayak Class is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 13 and 20 at the Olympic park. The club also plans to start a paddleboard yoga class in the near future. Rental hours are 1-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 5-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Those hours will likely change as daylight hours decrease. For more information, email Haack at, call 770-287-7888 or visit For individuals wanting to paddle through different spots on Lake Lanier, Gainesville Parks and Recreation marketing and communications manager Julie Butler Colombini said the city has sites that are the perfect launch, landing or stopover sites for avid or beginner paddlers. Five lake parks in Gainesville are part of the Gainesville Upper Lanier Water Trail, which is a continuation of the Upper Chattahoochee River Water Trail. And several natural landing sites make it easy to put in and take out canoes, Colombini said. “It’s a gem, it really is a gem,” Colombini said of the river trail.