Canoeing and Kayaking
Canoeing and Kayaking
With a little research, you’re sure to find a great waterway to paddle near Columbus! You can easily rent a canoe at a variety of vendors (including here at the OAC) and kayaks are often easily accessible as well. If you have your own vessel, the open waters are ready and waiting!
Creeks, rivers and lakes abound within a short drive, and access points are typically easy to find. The key to great paddling is to plan ahead and have knowledge toward good water safety. Once you’re ready, canoeing and kayaking can provide great stress relief.
Best time to go:
Spring provides full waterways, but also strong currents for boating. Summer and fall offer solitude and great foliage, but lower levels of water. Winter is essentially the only poor time to try to canoe or kayak here in and around Ohio.
Canoeing and Kayaking Education/Safety:
Canoeing and Kayaking Destinations (in a general four-hour radius from Columbus, in order from near to far):
OLENTANGY RIVER WATER TRAIL
An 8.94-mile Class I and II water trail that runs through the heart of Columbus, Ohio. The most common access point is at Broad Meadows and runs downstream to the confluence with the Scioto River. There are many other access points throughout the trail, however, each providing a unique experience on the Olentangy River.
Kayaking, canoeing, birding, biking, hiking, and fishing
There are four formal access points to the Scioto River for canoes and kayaks in Dublin, Ohio. They include Amberleigh Community Park, Dublin Spring Park, Emerald Parkway Bridge Parking Lot (beneath I-270 on Riverside Drive) and Scioto Park. These access points are part of the regional Central Ohio Blueways system, covering over 100 miles of water.
Relaxed paddling of all types is permitted on the Hoover Reservoir. There is access to the reservoir at the hoover Nature Preserve and a boat launch and docks at the Red Bank Marina.
Hiking, boating, fishing, swimming and picnicking
ALUM CREEK STATE PARK
Alum Creek Reservoir offers 3,387 acres of water. All types of boating are welcome on the lake, while the northern end offers a quieter scene for paddlers. There is a hand-launch beach access pint for canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. Additionally, the Alum Creek Sailing Association offers learn-to-sail programs for members and the public, and special sailing programs for kids.
Boating, camping, disc golf, dog park/dog swim area, fishing, hiking, walking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking, swimming, winter recreation
BIG AND LITTLE DARBY CREEK
The Big and Little Darby Creeks are both National and State Scenic Rivers. There are two access points for canoeing and kayaking—the Main Park Launch area at 8465 Alkire Road, Galloway OH 43119 and at Osprey Lake at 5800 Harrisburg-Georgesville Road, Darbydale OH 43123.
Biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing, fishing, hunting, ice skating, picnicking, sledding
There are many places to canoe and kayak along the Hocking River. One of the most popular canoe launch sites is the Arabia Canoe Launch Site which gives access to Symmes Creek. Symmes Creek is a Class I water trail that travels 99 miles long.
Boating, hiking, biking
MOHICAN RIVER WATER TRAIL
28 miles of Class I paddling in Ashland, Ohio. This trail begins in Mohican State park. There is a canoe livery there, where canoes and kayaks can be rented, as well as guided tours.
Canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking, winter recreation
LITTLE MIAMI RIVER
There are several canoe liveries and public access points along the Little Miami River in Southwest Ohio. The public access points are in South Lebanon at Roger’s Park, the Carl Rahe Preserve, Lake Isabella, Kelley Preserve, Bass Island, Armleder Park, Magrish Riverlands, and at Terrell Park in Milford. You can rent vessel at the Little Miami Canoe livery near Phegley Park, and rentable canoes and kayaks are also available in Loveland at the LMC Scenic River and Trail Center, as well as at Terrace Park.
Canoeing, kayaking, birding, hiking, biking, walking
While canoes and kayaks are welcome at the user’s own risk in most parts of the lake, there is a designated Lake Erie Islands Water Trail that includes five stops around North Bass Island. There are also several canoe and kayak rental locations throughout the coast of Lake Erie. While there are several in Pennsylvania, the most prominent is in Lakewood, Ohio and is known as 41 Degrees North.
Boating, fishing, swimming
OHIO RIVER ISLANDS NATIONAL REFUGE
This refuge consists of twenty-two islands and four mainland tracts scattered along the Ohio River. There are countless access points to the refuge throughout KY and WV, lending to nearly 360 miles available for canoeing and kayaking.
Boating, paddling, canoeing, kayaking
The trail on this river stretches 107-miles from Maumee Bay and Lake Erie to the Ohio-Indiana border. The river trail has rich Native American history and connects five Metro Parks and three wildlife areas. There are many launch sites and laid back canoeing and kayaking trips alongside the Maumee River.
Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, boating, walking, biking, birding
Drop-in for flat-water kayaking and canoeing anywhere along the Monongahela River in Mountaineer Country. Between each lock and dam, the waters are calm and clean, with slow-moving currents and lots of room to paddle. Kayak rentals are available at local sporting goods stores and outfitters throughout Mountaineer Country. Plan your own solo adventure or sign-up for a group trip up the river with many local tour guides.
Fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, hiking, biking, walking
There are several places to access the Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek to canoe and kayak. There is Indian Trails Park, Conneaut Creek Access at Center Road, State Road Covered Bridge and Creek Road Covered Bridge.
Hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, birding, fishing, walking
SUMMERSVILLE LAKE, WV
Summersville Lake is the largest reservoir in West Virginia. Coves of the western part of the lake are free from motorboat traffic and offer opportunities for quiet paddling and deep-water soloing. There are canoe and kayak rentals at Summersville Lake, as well as many access points.
Canoeing, kayaking, climbing, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, birding
CANAAN VALLEY BLACKWATER TRIBUTARIES
If you are interested in an adventure, this has got to be one of the coolest canoe trips anywhere. The Blackwater River and its tributaries provide an intimate experience through Canaan Valley’s unique environment of wetlands, upland forests and abundant wildlife. The Blackwater, the Little Blackwater, the North Branch of the Blackwater and Glade Run provide about 20 miles of meandering waterways through the heart of Canaan Valley. You can run the Blackwater and the North Branch downstream from the Cortland area to Camp 70, or you can put in at Camp 70 and go upstream to the smaller streams. Class II (II+) rapids and a dam exist along the last few miles into Davis. These sections will only run in the spring when there is snow melt and rain. For the Blackwater, look for 225-475 cfs (cubic feet per second) at Davis. The North Branch actually runs at lower levels due to geologic factors.
Fishing, canoeing, camping, hiking, mountain biking