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It’s finally warm in Ohio, which means our waterways are filling up with Ohioans searching for that next great adventure.
If you haven’t ever kayaked before, it’s definitely something you should consider. Not only is it a delightful way to get some exercise, it also connects you to your environment in a unique way.
Central Ohio has made several improvements to our waterways in recent years. One of the most notable being the Scioto Mile. So if you’re looking for an incredible way to see our city and the countryside around it, consider paddling.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommends the following tips to prep for your kayak adventure:
- Check for any local warnings and flood information here.
- Match the stream classification to your boating skills.
- Scout the land area and stream prior to boating it.
- Consider the temperature of the water as well as the air temperature. Dress for the water’s temperature.
- Know the location of all dams and other hazards. Be prepared to portage (carry around) these hazards.
- Be prepared for any unknown event. Know how to get to roads if you must “walk out.”
- Carry adequate drinking water.
- Camp only in permitted areas.
- Display courtesy and respect to riverfront landowners and other stream users.
- Properly secure your vehicles at both the put-in and the take-out.
Now that you’re ready to hit the water, here are some of the best kayaking opportunities in Central Ohio!
Big Darby Creek
Located just southwest of Columbus is the National and State Scenic Big Darby Creek. Big Darby is great for kayakers and offers a variety of difficulty levels. Trapper John’s Canoe Livery has been renting canoes and kayaks to adventurers for years. The best part about it? Trapper John’s will shuttle you back to your starting point when you get your kayak out!
The livery offers five different trips, Sampler Trip, Upper Trip, Lower Trip, Full Day Trip, and Moonlight Trip. All of the trips vary in length, difficulty, and price, so be sure to check with Trapper John’s before booking.
For more information about kayaking at Trapper John’s, visit their website.
The Scioto River is a popular destination for kayakers in Central Ohio. There are several places to put your kayak in or get out of the water, including the boat ramp at Scioto Audobon Metro Park on the southern end of Columbus or North Bank Pavillion in the Arena District.
Through Olentangy Paddle, you can kayak a beautiful route on the Scioto as it runs through Dublin. Olentangy Paddle is currently closed due to COVID-19, but they’re expecting to reopen sometime in June. You can follow them on Facebook for more updates.
For more information about paddling the Scioto River through downtown, please visit The Scioto Mile Website.
Once they’re open, there are two different kayak routes on the Olentangy River you can take when renting through Olentangy Paddle! The Clintonville route has you putting your kayak in at Broad Meadows and setting off on a 1.5 hr journey that will end 3.6 miles later at Northmoor Park. The Campus to Arena District route puts you in the water at the Columbus Boat Ramp behind Huntington Park on West Nationwide Blvd.
Of course, if you’ve got your own kayak and you’re just looking to head out by yourself, you can still access the boat launches mentioned above.
Alum Creek State Park
Although there is a lot of boating at Alum Creek, there are plenty of calm coves and inlets that make Alum Creek a great place to go kayaking. If you’re hoping to turn your kayaking trip into more of a getaway, Alum Creek Park also offers an amazing campground, with a variety of campsites.
Kayak rentals at Alum Creek can be found at the Marina, and you can check out their prices here.
If you’re interested in putting your kayak in and getting out in the same location, Hoover Reservoir is a great option for Columbusites. Hoover Reservoir is growing more and more popular for water recreation, but the lake has a 10hp limit, which makes it a safe environment for paddling.
There are plenty of places to get into your kayak, including at both Baldridge Boat Ramp and Red Bank Marina. For more information about paddling at Hoover Reservoir, please visit their website.
Bonus Adventure: Caeser Creek State Park
If you’re willing to go a little further out, I just have to suggest Caeser Creek State Park, located about an hour south of Columbus. Not only does it have tons of activities accessible by kayak, they even have a dedicated kayak dock at the marina.
Caeser Creek is a fun area with a lot more to do than just kayaking. There’s an island, activities like swimming, sports, and picnicking, and even a Pioneer Village with old log cabins to explore.
Have fun out there, Columbus. And don’t forget to be safe and wear sunscreen!
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