Kayaking In Ohio

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Is Ohio a popular place to go kayaking?

Is it a little lesser-known, or is it a big area of tourism in Ohio?

Why is kayaking in Ohio a good choice?

Although Ohio might not be the first location many people think of when they think about kayaking, it’s nevertheless a great place to go out and get lost in nature for a little while.

There are many rivers and other bodies of water perfect for kayaking in Ohio. Check out the list below to help you find the right destination for you!

Option #1. Alum Creek

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Columbus
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

Alum Creek is an excellent lake to paddle on regardless of the season. Although it tends to be frequented by anglers on the weekends, there’s plenty of room for paddlers as well.

Pros

  • There is a lot of wildlife viewing available here.
  • There are many access points and outlets for this body of water.

Cons

  • Restrooms may not be available year-round.
  • There are no tours or group rates at this location.

Option #2. Big Darby Creek

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Darbyville
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

Big Darby Creek provides ample opportunities for beginners or anyone looking for a gentle paddle. This creek offers seven miles of little to no rapids and is only a few feet deep, so it’s a great confidence booster for new paddlers.

Pros

  • There is plenty of local wildlife to spot on this river.
  • The river has a few banks to stop on along the way.

Cons

  • During the winter, the river may get too low to paddle in this area.
  • The river runs through towns and cities, so there may be city background noise.

Option #3. Cowan Lake

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Clinton County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or Full-Day

Cowan Lake is a bit more popular for canoes than kayaks, but it’s nevertheless a good kayaking location too. There may be anglers enjoying the lake while you visit, but it’s fairly uncrowded overall.

Pros

  • The lake has a 10HP boat motor limit, so it’s a safer environment for kids and pets.
  • There are many unique plants growing on this river for easy viewing.

Cons

  • The campground is somewhat minimal at this lake.
  • The water can smell bad at certain times of the year.

Option #4. Cuyahoga River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: Cuyahoga Falls
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

There are several paddling options available on the Cuyahoga River. Book a one-hour experience just to learn the basics, or spend half a day on the water enjoying the surroundings.

Pros

  • Several starting times are available each day for these trips.
  • Trips are easy for beginners but include some faster portions.

Cons

  • Access to the drop-off point can be limited at certain times of the year.
  • The one-hour tour on this river may be too short for anyone other than children.

Option #5. Grand River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: West Farmington
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Grand River is much more off the beaten path than some of the other locations listed here. On this river, paddlers can rent kayaks for the day or longer and enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, and more.

Pros

  • Many trip lengths are available on this river.
  • The river is less popular than others, so it’s often much quieter.

Cons

  • Trips will be canceled if there is inclement weather in the area.
  • Canoe rentals cost more than kayak rentals at this river.

Option #6. Hocking River

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Price: $$
Location:
Recommended Duration:

On the Hocking River, paddlers can choose to kayak the upper or lower portions of the river and have different experiences for different skill levels. There are many natural sights to see along the way no matter which path you take.

Pros

  • At certain times of the year, it may be possible to kayak the whole river at once.
  • There is a five-mile stretch perfect for kids and beginners.

Cons

  • At some times of the year, some parts of the river may be too low to kayak.
  • This river can be very crowded, especially on weekends.

Option #7. Hoover Reservoir

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $
Location: Galena
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

Paddle through the calm waters of the Hoover Reservoir for a simple and easygoing trip. There are many bridges to pass under on this body of water, as well as a mini island to check out.

Pros

  • When the water is higher, you can visit several tiny islands on the reservoir.
  • The reservoir is a great place for beginners to learn paddling.

Cons

  • There may be a lot of anglers on the water at certain times of the year.
  • In colder weather, the water gets low and muddy.

Option #8. Kokosing River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location:
Recommended Duration:

The Kokosing River has been designated as a State Scenic River due to its clean water and beautiful scenery. This option is not very frequented by visitors, and some kayakers may even have the water to themselves on this river.

Pros

  • The river is great for beginners and older kids to enjoy.
  • Tubing is also available here for those who prefer it.

Cons

  • Canoes are easier to find for rental than kayaks on this river, so you may need to bring your own watercraft.
  • Children under four may not kayak on this river.

Option #9. Lake Erie

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Price: $$$
Location: northern Ohio
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Tour Lake Erie from the comfort of a kayak and see some unique sights you might never see otherwise. On this lake, you can either book a tour or take a rental kayak out on your own time, depending on your preferences.

Pros

  • It is possible to rent single, double, and triple kayaks as well as fishing kayaks on this lake.
  • Group rates are often available and kids are welcome.

Cons

  • It can be difficult to find reservations for kayaking this lake.
  • The lake may become very busy on certain weekends.

Option #10. Mohican River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: Coshocton County
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or shorter

When you kayak on the Mohican River, you can enjoy beautiful sights, relaxing nature, and plenty of places to stop and camp for overnight adventures, too. This is a great family getaway for locals and tourists alike.

Pros

  • Several trip lengths are available on this river to help you find just what you’re looking for.
  • There are usually group rates available for larger groups and big families.

Cons

  • There may be rules against bringing your own watercraft on this river.
  • It’s a good idea to check ahead on this river, as the water levels may be too low for kayaking.

Option #11. Olentangy River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$
Location: Columbus
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

Check out the Olentangy River when you want a quick getaway that isn’t too far from city life. This river allows kayaking and canoeing and is a good way for families to enjoy paddling together.

Pros

  • The river is good for any skill level and welcomes children of any age.
  • Guided and self-guided tours both are available along this river.

Cons

  • In cases of inclement weather, trips will be canceled.
  • At some times of the year, the water may be too low to kayak on this river.

Option #12. Scioto River

Difficulty: Intermediate
Price: $
Location: Columbus
Recommended Duration: Half-Day

On the Scioto River, you’ll have a chance to view a lot of local wildlife despite being so close to the big city. This trip is mostly easy paddling with a couple of bigger rapids to keep in mind along the way, so it’s a good way for intermediate kayakers to practice their skills.

Pros

  • If you bring your own kayak, you can paddle this river for free.
  • The river is usually high enough for kayaking at any time of the year.

Cons

  • It is possible to get stuck on rocks on this river.
  • There are no guided tours available on this river.

Option #13. Vermillion River

Difficulty: Easy
Price: $$$
Location: Vermilion
Recommended Duration: Half-Day or Full-Day

Rent a single or double kayak along the Vermilion River and paddle as long or as little as you like! With several places to stop and take a break along the way, you can set up camp or just kick back and relax in between paddling parts of this popular river.

Pros

  • The river is easy to paddle and navigate for beginners.
  • There are other types of rentals available along the river too, including canoes and paddle boards.

Cons

  • This river is not open to paddling all year round, due to water levels.
  • The river may be overcrowded at some times of the year.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that the peak kayaking season in Ohio is during the spring and summer. However, remember that Ohio is in an area that can and does get tornadoes, and check the weather ahead of time to plan accordingly. Traveling during the off-season will allow you to avoid inclement weather and crowds, but it may be very cold, so keep this in mind when making your travel arrangements, too.

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