Riding the Raystown: Kayak rental business launched in

For more than two centuries in both Bedford and Huntingdon counties, pioneers have been traversing the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. They have done so on primitive arks and canoes, mostly transporting goods to areas around the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg to trade.

In modern times, people have found the use of kayaks as a viable means of getting down the river. During the past two years, many area residents have participated in benefit “floats,” often starting at Ritchey’s Bridge and floating downriver to the Cooper Recreational area in Broad Top Township.

Getting in on the popularity of kayaking is a new business that recently opened in Saxton. Raystown Rent & Ride opened at 717 Spring St. in the old Bob Cunningham Sporting Good Store property.

Business owner Jared Weaver said he and his wife, Yari, opened the business on July 9. They are working out of a large garage on the property, but someday hope to move the operation to the former sporting goods store location.

Presently, Weaver said he has 10 kayaks to rent, including five sit-on-top and five sit-in models. The sit-on-top kayaks, he said, allow the user to gain more sun exposure if they would like to tan their legs.

The traditional sit-in kayaks do not afford this, since the user must sit down in the kayak. Compared to canoes, Weaver said kayaks are much easier to maneuver on the open water.

When asked why kayaks, Weaver said kayaks are much easier to handle and transport from one area to another. He said the users do not wish to exhaust themselves before they reach the water.

Around the Saxton area, Weaver said kayaks are easier to use on the waters of Raystown Lake in the Weaver’s Falls area.

From the Lancaster County area, Weaver said he and his wife are living in their home in Saxton while he is still engaged in the flooring installation business specializing in tile work. He said his wife will oversee and manage the kayak rental business and all aspects of it including social media sites and rentals.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weaver said that kayaking has become a popular hobby. He said he knows that this is true because his liability insurance has more than doubled.

The kayaking market also depends on tourism in the area. He said it is more beneficial for the seasonal tourist to have the ability to simply rent, pick up and drop off a kayak after its use versus owning one themselves.

Weaver said he is aware that some area campsites have and rent kayaks out to camping patrons. His business, he said, is kind of tailored for the individuals who like to come into the area, do some daylight kayaking on the river or the lake and go home.

Weaver said he is willing to meet kayak renters and drop them off at the Weaver’s Falls Boat Launch only at this time. Also as part of his business, Weaver will be renting out inflatable paddleboards.

The paddleboards can be transported in their own backpack and be inflated with a pump that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter receptacle of a vehicle. They can be deflated just as easy.

Weaver said kayaking is typically a sport geared for 18- to 30-years-olds. However, some older folks have found floating down the river quite an enjoyable past time.

When renting a kayak from his business, Weaver said you of course get a safety vest, a gear bag to keep all your valuables safe and dry and a safety whistle. Despite what many may think, he said kayaks are user friendly for beginners.

In the future, Weaver said he is planning to get into bicycle rentals but is waiting to see what happens with the proposed rails-to-trails extension from Red Cut in Broad Top Township to Warrior’s Path State Park in Liberty Township. The kayak rental business presently operates from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. but will change with the setting sun in the fall.

Although the summer is winding down, Weaver said he plans to keep going into the fall months when there are still some warmer days that are ideal for kayaking.

While he got a late start this year, he is anticipating a better start for the 2023 tourist season.

He is planning to install a sign in front of the business so patrons can find it. He encourages all interested in the business to consult his business at raystownrentride.com.