Ohio Waterways: A Paddler’s Delight
What better way to stay cool, enjoy some healthy exercise and have fun this boating season than gliding in a canoe across a serene lake or paddling a kayak along a scenic river or designated water trail? With more than 60,000 miles of rivers and streams that crisscross Ohio, a day spent paddling provides excellent experiences and unforgettable views of the great outdoors.
“Canoeing and kayaking are so popular because they are affordable activities and excellent ways to spend a day in nature with your friends and family,” says Emily King, a paddling expert and manager of the Division of Watercraft’s public information and education section. “Becoming actively involved with paddle sports is a great way to explore the outdoors and it’s a fun activity that people of all ages can safely enjoy. We have seen canoe and kayak registrations increase nearly 60 percent since 2000 and reports this year indicate many more people are buying canoes and kayaks.”
Canoe and kayak registrations now total more than 70,000, or 17 percent of Ohio’s total registered watercraft for 2007.
Deciding which type of craft to paddle – canoe or kayak – can be challenging and fun. While both boats are symmetrical at each end, they are very different otherwise. To help make the choice, ask yourself a few questions such as what kind of water (still water or moving water) do you want to paddle and are children going to be part of the equation?
Kayaks, for example, sit closer to the water and are “wetter” boats that typically accommodate one or two paddlers. Kayaks offer low wind resistance, are easy to maneuver and cut through the water swiftly. While some are designed for a paddler to sit inside the boat, other kayaks are design for a paddler to sit atop the boat. Kayaks also come in multiple designs best suited for use on flat lakes and slow moving streams, very large expanses of water such as oceans and the Great Lakes, and also for fast-action, whitewater paddling.
Canoes on the other hand aren’t as quick through the water as kayaks. They can be paddled solo or with two to four passengers, depending upon type and design. Paddlers typically sit higher above the water while in a canoe and have more room to handle gear. Families with young children will likely find a canot to be the better option for paddling.
The Division of Watercraft is funding construction of canoe/kayak access facilities through its Cooperative Boating Facilities Access grant program. In response to greater demand, Colerain Township in Hamilton County has partnered with the Division of Watercraft to construct canoe/kayak launch ramps along the Great Miami River.
The launch ramps are located 4.3 nautical miles apart and include Dravo Park, a renovated soccer complex, and the new 126-acre Heritage Park that is located upstream at 11405 East Miami River Road.
Heritage Park is believed to be the site of Colerain Township’s first settlement in the late 18th century. It features one mile of river frontage along the Great Miami River. Dravo Park, a baseball field since the 1970s, is also home to the Obergiesing Soccer Complex.
In addition, the division has also helped create the Ohio Water Trails Program, which seeks to identify existing stream access sites, identify locations where additional sites may be needed and to promote special paddle sports opportunities. Existing Ohio Water Trails include the East Sandusky Bay, Kokosing River and Muskingum River water trails.
Beyond facilities, publications and designated water trails are special events designed to increase participation in boating. The division and Ohio State Parks are partnered with Gander Mountain Company in co-hosting a new Paddle Quest series to promote state park lodge resorts and paddling opportunities.
Paddle Quest offers participants an opportunity to visit some of our great state parks and enjoy paddling, while at the same time becoming acquainted with the dedicated employees of Gander Mountain who share similar interests in outdoors recreation. The company provides a safe and fun environment for families to enjoy paddling, along with door prizes and a chance to win a kayak when Paddle Quest concludes at Salt Fork State Park in September.
When it comes to paddle sports, it’s important to observe these safety tips to ensure your day on the water is safe and enjoyable:
- Always wear a life jacket while boating.
- Know the weather and water conditions, and any hazards to navigation before getting out on the water.
- File a float plan to advise a person of responsibility where you are going, and when you should be expected to return.
- Plan a trip that is suitable for all paddling participants.
- Complete an approved boating safety education course of instruction.