Everyone I talked to about Lake Erie warned of terrible winds and nasty polluted water. Nobody said a word about beautiful beaches, textured rock cliffs, and waterfalls cascading directly into the lake. Thankfully the pollution is a thing of the past, and now that the secret's out, it isn't always windy. The best paddling I found was on the eastern end of the lake in the Barcelona, N.Y. area.

Beta: A day trip east out of Barcelona, N.Y., provides a taste of Lake Erie's stunning scenery. However, the two-day run from Barcelona to Lake Erie State Park (9 miles) then on to Silver Creek, N.Y. (14 miles) is well worth the time. The lake does have a reputation for being windy, so get an early start to beat the wind—or go in the evening once the winds settle. Evergreen Outfitters does a sunset paddle on the lake (leaving from Barcelona) every Tuesday night in the summer.

Don't forget: A beach towel and sunscreen.

Afterward: Stop in at Willow Creek, one of several wineries in Silver Creek, and the only one where you can get a wine slushy. Remember, it's all about adventure.

Web: Evergreen Outfitters , Ashville, N.Y.

Ed Note: In 2009 and 2010, Jake Stachovak paddled around the eastern half of the United States. These are some of his favorite stops along the way.

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