ROUND LAKE, N.Y. — With summer finally here the ubiquitous bright yellow, green and red kayaks have sprung up like roadside lilies wherever there is a body of water more than two feet deep.
And with the arrival of Upstate Kayak Rentals’ latest self-serve kayak hub in Round Lake, one can rent a kayak as easily as renting a bike from a bike-share firm.
Owner Donna Larkin started the company eight years ago with a trailer of six kayaks and a website. She pulled her trailer of kayaks and traveled the Capital Region renting them out to groups and individuals. The business began to get bigger through word of mouth, and she opened manned rental sites at the boat launch in Waterford, Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, and Shady Harbor in New Baltimore.
From there she turned toward technology and opened self-serving kayak kiosks in Albany, Bethlehem, Coeymans and at Alcathy’s Boat Launch in Waterford. In May, Larkin quietly opened her latest kiosk, the first self-serve kayak hub in Saratoga County.
“As far as I know we have the only self-serving kayak hubs in the state,” she said.
The wooden storage frame with its sloping roof and six colorful kayaks can be seen from the northbound lane of Route 9 a few hundred yards north of the DEC Round Lake boat launch. To get to the kiosk by car one has to take Goldfoot Road east a few hundred yards to Maltaville Road (County Road 80) where another right will lead one to a dead end and the kayak kiosk.
On Monday, Larkin was joined at the kiosk’s ribbon cutting by Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, Town of Malta Supervisor Darren O’Connor, town council members Cynthia Young and Craig Warner, and Village of Round Lake Mayor Gary Putman. Supervising the happy occasion was Chamber of Southern Saratoga County President and CEO Pete Bardunias, a longtime friend of Larkin’s.
“This was a great partnership, the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County and the Round Lake Community Business Alliance working together with the village and the town to make something good happen,” Bardunias said.
Noting that envy was one of the seven deadly sins, O’Connor said it was hard to not be jealous of the Village of Round Lake for having the kiosk located within its borders.
“This is gorgeous, beautiful, and a huge addition to the community. Thanks for coming,” he said.
Larkin gave credit to Putman for his suggestion to place the kiosk in the village.
“This is a great lake and a wonderful creek,” she said, referring to Ballston Lake Creek. “I got here early and paddled up the creek and it’s just wonderful, quiet, shady, a great way to get away. Thank you for suggesting this spot.”
Noting how he represents the 49th Senate District, which includes the City of Schenectady, a place where Thomas Edison did a lot of innovating and is also the birthplace of professional basketball player and coach, Pat Reilly, another innovator, Tedisco gave Larkin credit for innovating to come up with her self-serving kayak kiosks.
“It was your innovation that made this happen,” he said. “This is an added jewel. There are a lot of people involved in kayaking so if you put it here, people will come. This is another way for people to experience the outdoors, experience nature, and with this, you’re giving them that opportunity.”
Larkin, a resident of Latham, was surprised to see all the public officials drawn to her kiosk.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” she said. “This is a great lake for kayaking. If either of your boards want to get together down here we’ll bring some more kayaks and get all of you out on the water.”
The reservations to rent the kayaks can be made at the company’s website or through its smartphone app, Noke. The kayaks are rented in pairs at a rate of $50 for a maximum of three hours. They come with the familiar single paddle and life jackets which are stored in the kiosk and cannot be accessed until the kayaks are removed.
“We rent them in pairs because we prefer that people kayak in pairs for safety,” Larkin said. “The whole point is to get more people on the water everywhere and this is such a beautiful spot to do it.”
Upstate Kayak Rentals can be found on the internet at www.UpstateKayakRentals.com.