Whether you are evaluating a manufacturer for an accessible kayak canoe launch or looking to build an adaptive paddling launch yourself, here are some tips provided by the U.S. National Park Service's Rivers, Trails & Conversation Assistance Program.
The Basic of Designing an Accessible Kayak and Canoe Launch
It is important to consider a variety of factors when developing an adaptive launch design.
Consider the following goals:
• Cost-effective and Durable
• Accessible to all paddlers
Paddlers of all abilities want to launch and land smoothly without capsizing or damaging their boats. They need firm surfaces that support their movements and sufficient space to accommodate the length of their boats during put-in and take-out. Paddlers must be able to stabilize their boats during transition to and from the water. Climbing in and out of boats can be especially challenging when there is significant height difference between seat levels and shoreline. Additionally, federal law requires that all boating facilities provide access to paddlers with disabilities whenever possible.
General recommendations for designing an accessible launch:
• Height above water: Between 9" and 2' from highest expected water level
• Width: At least 5' wide, preferably 6' to 12'
• Length: At least 25' to allow paddlers "dry" access to entire length of their boats
• Slope: ADA Accessibility Guidelines require that slopes not exceed 8.33% whenever possible; A slope exceeding 15% will make transition from land to water difficult for any paddler
• Support: Handrails or other support structures, including step-down designs or ropes, help paddlers balance their weight during put-in and take-out
• Location: Ideally in areas without heavy flow, erosion, exposure to elements, heavy boat traffic, or fragile riparian habitats
The type of launch chosen should be suitable for a particular access location, meaning that it should be the most sensible choice considering the characteristics of the water body, as well as relevant climatic and ecological factors.