Convert a Utility Trailer into a Kayak Trailer

By Jeff Miner, Lake Tahoe Water Trail Committee member

The idea of building of a kayak rack for my utility trailer started with the development of the Lodge to Lodge Network. The concept of the Lodge to Lodge Network is that kayakers using the Lake Tahoe Water Trail could design their own multi-day paddle adventure on Lake Tahoe more easily if lodging and meals were more readily available.

Tahoe has a robust tourism industry with camping, hotels and restaurants scattered around the lake, and is a marvelous kayaking destination, but the two are not easily connected. The limited camping sites around the lake are very popular (thus crowded) and not evenly spaced within a day’s paddle distance around the lake. Hotels are abundant but they have no way to pickup kayakers at the shore and carry them and their kayaks to their lodge. A key missing ingredient to connecting the lodge to the kayaker is a way to move people and kayaks between their lodge and the shore. An inexpensive kayak trailer could help meet this need.

As a member of the Lake Tahoe Water Trail Committee, I decided to design and build a kayak rack system for my utility trailer as a prototype that lodges might use to design and build their own inexpensive rack on any trailer they may already have. This project will define one approach, but may generate other ideas and improvements that lodges could use to design and build their own. Possibly a “kayak taxi” carrier service may spring up that lodges could contract with for this service, such as South Shore Bikes.

In any case, to promote more kayaking on the Lake Tahoe Water Trail and to support the local economy, here is one approach to inexpensively converting an existing utility trailer to a kayak trailer.


This home-made kayak rack attaches to my utility trailer which is made out of an 8 x 4 foot pickup truck bed. It holds 5 kayaks: 3 kayaks 14 foot long and under 24″ wide will fit on the bottom rack; 2 larger kayaks will fit on the upper rack


  • Lumber and bolts $39.80
  • Additional bolts $12.00
  • Watco Ext Oil $12.00
  • Sandpaper and misc. $10.00
  • Total Material $73.80


3 days labor

Material list:

  • 2×4 doug fir 6′ long, 12 each
  • 2×6 doug fir 10′ long, 1 each
  • “L” brackets 2″ long, 4 each
  • 1/2″ bolts, nuts, washers, 1 1/2″ long 4 each
  • 5/16″ bolts, nuts, washers, 8′ long, 2 each
  • 3/8′ bolts, nuts, washers, 5″ long, 8 each
  • Watco External Oil, 1 qt, 2 each
  • Sandpaper, clamps, saw, drill, tools, etc.


In the winter or off season, the kayak rack comes apart easily and stores up against a wall.


Check out more detailed, step-by-step photos here.