1. Little Miami River (Cincinnati)
The little Miami River is the premiere kayaking and canoeing destination in Southwestern Ohio. Located near Cincinnati and running 111 miles through five of Ohio’s southwestern counties, there’s plenty of water trail to traverse. A great place to launch from is near Fort Ancient (Lebanon Morrow/S.R. 123 Exit 32 off of I71), a stretch of the river that meanders through a lush valley. The area has many places to pull off for a picnic lunch, take a dip in the river, and even camp overnight. If you’re in search of a place to rent watercraft, I highly recommend Morgan’s Canoe Livery, which offers several different packages as well as campgrounds among other amenities.
2. Hocking River (Fairfield, Hocking, and Athens County)
The Hocking Hills region of southwestern Ohio is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire state, and if you’re looking for an alternative to hitting the trails, paddling down the Hocking River is a great option. Boasting some of the same famous scenery featured along the trails of Hocking Hills State Park, the river is an incredibly beautiful destination! One popular place to rent watercraft is Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, which offers kayaking and canoeing, as well as rafting. The company also offers campgrounds and packages that include horseback riding and family fun adventures!
3. Big Darby Creek (Central Ohio – Near Columbus)
Big Darby Creek, located in central Ohio, is a perfect place to experience Ohio’s incredible biodiversity. This National Scenic River is located amongst hundreds of acres teeming with wildlife, making the Battelle-Darby Metro Park a must-see! If you’re looking to rent, one of the more popular liveries is Trapper Johns, located about 20 minutes south of Columbus, in Grove City. The company offers an array of trips that cover both the Big and Little Darby Creeks. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, they even offer a moonlight paddle experience!
4. Lake Erie (Northern Ohio – Near Sandusky/Marblehead)
Having grown up visiting Lake Erie, this is one of my personal favorite places to experience Ohio’s natural beauty. Lake Erie offers a more leisurely kayak and canoe experience, with a multitude of bays and alcoves to paddle around. The Marblehead area is incredibly scenic, and has many public areas to launch out from. There is also an abundance of wildlife and natural scenery, as well as some famous and historic vistas such as the Marblehead Lighthouse, Cedar Point, and Kelly’s Island. Plus, Lake Erie has some amazing sandy beaches if you’re looking to stop off for a picnic lunch and soak up some rays!
5. Mohican River (Loudonville)
The Mohican River located in Loudonville, which has been nicknamed ‘Ohio’s Canoe Capital’ due to the abundance of liveries located in close proximity to the town, is definitely an essential part of this must-see list. Being located between both Columbus and Cleveland, Loudonville is a convenient destination. The river runs through Mohican State Park, which is arguably one of the most beautiful regions of the state. If you want to make your paddling experience into a weekend-long adventure, the area boasts both camping and lodging accommodations, as well as other activities such as hiking and zip lining!
For more information on the great rivers and streams to paddle in Ohio please visithttp://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/watertrails