Kayaking in Ohio: 15 of the Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

Do you love the great outdoors, as I do? If so, then kayaking in Ohio should be at the top of your to-do list. Ohio is home to a variety of beautiful rivers, lakes, and streams offering hours upon hours of fun water sports activities.


I have conducted extensive research to provide you with a comprehensive guide to the top kayaking spots in Ohio.


Kayaking in Ohio


Kayaking (And Fishing) Laws And Regulations

Ohio law requires all vessels, including kayaks, to have a personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. Additionally, kayakers are required to carry a sound-producing device, such as a whistle, to alert others in case of an emergency. Kayakers should also be aware of the speed limits and no-wake zones in certain areas.

When it comes to fishing, Ohio law requires anglers to have a valid fishing license, which can be obtained online or at various locations throughout the state.

Hocking Hills State Park, Logan

Hocking Hills State Park, Logan

Hocking Hills State Park, located in Logan, Ohio, offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the park’s magnificent natural beauty by kayaking and canoeing.

The River Canoe Livery is one of the most popular options for kayaking and canoeing in the park. The livery offers several trips and rental options that cater to paddlers of all levels. Visitors can choose from a calm seven-mile trip that takes about two to three hours or a more adventurous 11-mile trip that takes about four to five hours. Both trips offer stunning views of the park, including towering cliffs, lush forests, and waterfalls.

Another popular option for paddling in Hocking Hills State Park is the Adventures. This outfitter offers rentals of canoes, kayaks, and tubes, as well as guided tours of the park. Visitors can embark on a leisurely one, two, or three-hour float, taking in the serene beauty of the River and the surrounding landscape.

Get ready for one of the largest and most exciting paddling events of the year – the Annual Ohio River Paddlefest! This year, the event takes place on August 7th, and it’s expected to draw over 2,000 participants from all over to paddle in canoes, kayaks, and other fun human-powered watercraft.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, Hocking Hills State Park offers kayaking and canoeing opportunities that are sure to delight you. So grab your paddle, put on some sunscreen, and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hocking Hills!

Mohican State Park, Loudonville

The park has many options for renting kayaks and canoes, and visitors can enjoy a scenic paddle down the Clear Fork River that flows through the park. The river provides the perfect setting for a leisurely float, with calm waters and picturesque views of the surrounding forest.

The park has a few options for canoe and kayak rentals, including Mohican Adventures and Class-Rapids Outfitters. Mohican Adventures offers both kayak and canoe rentals as well as guided tours of the Clear Fork River. Class-Rapids Outfitters also offers guided tours, as well as equipment rentals and shuttle services for kayakers and canoeists.

The Clear Fork River has different sections suitable for all levels of paddlers, from calm sections for beginners to more challenging rapids for experienced paddlers. The park also offers easy access points for launching and landing kayaks and canoes.

Cuyahoga River, Cuyahoga Falls

Cuyahoga River, Cuyahoga Falls Kayaking

Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is a well-known spot for kayaking and canoeing adventures. The river’s calm waters and beautiful scenery, coupled with multiple options for equipment rentals and guided tours, attract both seasoned paddlers and first-time kayakers and canoeists.

Crooked River Adventures and Burning River Adventures are two outfitters that provide equipment rentals and guided tours of the Cuyahoga River, catering to paddlers of all levels. The river offers views of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is home to stunning waterfalls and forests full of wildlife, including beavers, osprey, and great blue herons.

Lake Erie Islands State Park, Port Clinton kayaking

Lake Erie Islands State Park, Port Clinton

The park sits on the shore of Lake Erie and encompasses several islands, including Kelleys Island and South Bass Island, offering visitors an opportunity to paddle along the park’s stunning coastlines.

Lake Erie is a truly remarkable body of water, with a rich history and many fascinating facts that make it a beloved part of the Great Lakes region.

For starters, Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the five Great Lakes and the 11th-largest freshwater lake in the world. It spans over 9,910 square miles and has an average depth of just 62 feet, making it the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

Despite its relatively small size, Lake Erie is home to a diverse range of fish species, including walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch. It also supports a thriving commercial fishing industry, with millions of pounds of fish caught each year.

Paddlers can also explore Kelleys Island, the largest island in Lake Erie, which has several calm waterways and hidden coves, providing a peaceful retreat and a perfect place to stop for a picnic.

For those looking to explore the islands by kayak on Lake Erie, there are plenty of opportunities to rent them from outfitters like Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals or South Bass Island Livery.

Depending on your needs, you can find basic kayaks for around $25-30 per hour or go big with pontoon boats that accommodate up to 11 people for $200-350 a day.

If you’re planning a longer trip, there are lots of camping sites along the island such as East Harbor State Park where you can sleep beneath starry skies near the shoreline. Don’t forget to check out local restaurants like The Boardwalk or Pasquale’s while you’re here on Lake Erie.

Little Miami River, Oregonia

Little Miami River, Oregonia

Little Miami River in Oregonia is a great destination for kayaking and canoeing. It stretches over 50 miles from the edge of Franklin County to Xenia, providing a beautiful backdrop for nature exploration. The river has an average depth of three feet and can accommodate kayaks up to five feet wide, making it perfect for novice paddlers too.

After you’ve had your fill of the main river, why not venture out to explore two of its stunning tributaries – the Stillwater River and Mad River? These waterways have been given the Ohio Department of Natural Resources water trail and designated scenic river status, meaning they offer incredible scenery and a unique paddling experience. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of these hidden gems and discover all the beauty they have to offer!

The best part of the river is between Oregonia Park and Corwin Beach, offering stunning views along the way. Here you can hire canoes and kayaks for around $20-50 per day at outfitters like Oregon Kayak Adventures or Wolf Creek Canoe Livery.

Plenty of restaurants dot the shoreline with options such as Riverside Café in Oregonia or Miami Whitewater Forest’s View Café in Cleves. If you’re looking to camp during your trip, there are various camping sites near Oregonia Park and Caesar Creek Gorge State Park.

Alum Creek State Park, Lewis Center

Alum Creek State Park, Lewis Center

Alum Creek State Park spans 4,630 acres, with the 3,387-acre Alum Creek Reservoir as its centrepiece. The reservoir’s average depth is 30 feet, reaching up to 60 feet in some areas. The river system offers a range of difficulty levels, making it perfect for beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. Learn more about the park by visiting the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

Access points for kayaks, canoes, and rafts are aplenty in Alum Creek State Park. The marina and boat ramps near the Cheshire and Hollenback roads provide the easiest access to the water. Additionally, the park offers ADA-accessible kayak launches to ensure that everyone can join in on the fun.

When it comes to equipment rentals, several local companies cater to the park’s visitors. Alum Creek Marina offers a variety of kayaks and canoes, with rental prices starting at $25 for two hours. For a more extensive selection of watercraft, visit the Preservation Parks of Delaware County

Maumee River, Grand Rapids

Maumee River, Grand Rapids

Discover the beauty and adventure of kayaking on the Maumee River in Grand Rapids, Ohio. The Maumee River stretches 137 miles, making it the largest river by volume in the Great Lakes system. Rich in history, the river is home to several famous landmarks, such as the Providence Metropark and the Fort Meigs State Memorial.

Access for kayaks is available at various locations along the river, including public boat ramps and designated launch sites. For those in need of a kayak, local rental services like River Lures Kayak Adventures, Maumee River Outfitters, and The Paddle Shack offer affordable options.

After a day on the water, refuel at one of the many riverside restaurants. Popular choices include LaRosa’s, Hometown Pizza, Dale’s Diner, The Blue Heron, and Nazareth Hall.

For a guided experience, consider joining a kayaking tour with Toledo River Gang, Kayak Ohio, or Riverfront Adventure Tours. These tours provide a unique perspective on the Maumee River, making your visit unforgettable.

Scioto River, Columbus

Scioto River, Columbus

The Scioto River runs for approximately 231 miles, meandering through the heart of Columbus and offering stunning views of the city’s skyline. Notable landmarks along the river include the Scioto Mile and Scioto Audubon Metro Park, both maintained by the government and non-profit organizations to ensure the preservation of the river’s natural beauty and recreational offerings.

Access for kayaks is available at multiple launch sites along the river, including public boat ramps and specially designated areas. For those in need of a kayak, consider renting from local businesses such as Olentangy Paddle, Paddle Ventures, or HERO USA.

After exploring the river, satisfy your hunger at one of the nearby riverside restaurants. Popular options include Milestone 229, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, BrewDog Franklinton, and Buca di Beppo.

Burr Oak State Park, Glouster

Burr Oak State Park, Glouster

The park’s centrepiece, Burr Oak Lake, spans over 664 acres, offering ample space for kayaking enthusiasts. Managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Burr Oak State Park ensures the preservation and enjoyment of the area’s natural resources.

Access for kayaks is available at various locations around the lake, including public boat ramps and designated launch sites.

For rentals, consider visiting Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center, Paddle N More, or Touch the Earth Adventures. These establishments provide quality equipment and services to make your kayaking experience enjoyable. Rental prices typically range from $25 to $45 for a half-day and $35 to $65 for a full day, depending on the rental provider and kayak type.

Portage Lakes State Park, Akron

Portage Lakes State Park, Akron

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Portage Lakes State Park ensures the preservation and enjoyment of the area’s natural resources.

Access for kayaks is available at various locations around the lakes, including public boat ramps and designated launch sites.

Dustys Landing, Turkeyfoot Sports, or West Reservoir Canoe Livery. Rental prices typically range from $20 to $40 for a half-day and $30 to $50 for a full day, depending on the rental provider and kayak type.

For guided kayaking tours, explore options such as Breakaway Excursions, H2oXo Tours, or Ohio Kayak Adventures. These tours provide an exciting and informative way to experience the beauty of Portage Lakes, while also learning about the area’s history and wildlife.

Lake Vesuvius, Ironton

Lake Vesuvius, Ironton

Discover the natural beauty and tranquillity of kayaking at Lake Vesuvius in Ironton, Ohio. Located within the Wayne National Forest, this serene lake spans over 143 acres and offers breathtaking views of the forest’s rolling hills.

Access to kayaks is available at various launch sites around the lake, including designated areas and public boat ramps. The calm and clear waters of Lake Vesuvius are perfect for kayakers of all skill levels to enjoy the scenic surroundings.

Lake Vesuvius Marina and Campground, where rental prices typically range from $20 to $30 per hour.

Some restaurants are Fat Patty’s, The Depot, Chandler’s Drive-In, LaRosa’s Pizzeria, or The Depot Deli & Grill. Each of these establishments offers a unique dining experience and a variety of cuisines to satisfy any appetite.

Outdoor Pursuits at Ohio University Southern or New River Outdoor Co. These tours provide a fun and educational way to explore the lake, while also learning about the area’s history and wildlife.

Delaware State Park, Delaware

Delaware State Park, Delaware

Delaware State Park is a wonderful destination for kayaking enthusiasts to enjoy the natural beauty of Ohio. Managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the park offers a variety of access points for kayaking at Delaware Lake, including public boat ramps and designated areas. Delaware Lake is rated as a Class B lake, making it ideal for kayakers of all skill levels.

For those needing a kayak, Delaware Adventures offers rental rates starting at $20 per hour or $40 for a half-day. All necessary equipment, such as paddles and life jackets, are included to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience.

After your kayaking adventure, refuel at one of the nearby restaurants, such as 1808 American Bistro, Son of Thurman, Pat and Gracie’s Kitchen and Tavern, or The Backstretch, each offering a unique dining experience to suit every palate.

For a more immersive kayaking experience, join a guided tour with Delaware State Park Nature Center or Captain Kidd’s Kayak Rentals and Eco Tours. These tours provide an educational and fun way to explore the lake, while also learning about the area’s history, flora, and fauna.

Rocky Fork State Park, Hillsboro

Rocky Fork State Park, Hillsboro

Located in Hillsboro, Ohio, the park boasts over 2,000 acres of wilderness, including the crystal-clear waters of Rocky Fork Lake.

One of the main attractions of kayaking in Rocky Fork State Park is the stunning scenery. The lake is surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills, providing breathtaking views from every angle. The lake is also home to diverse wildlife, so you may be lucky enough to spot a variety of birds and other creatures as you paddle.

In addition to the natural beauty, Rocky Fork State Park also offers plenty of activities to keep you busy. Fishing is a popular pastime, with the lake stocked with a variety of fish species. The park also has hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds, making it an ideal location for a weekend getaway.

Hueston Woods State Park, College Corner

Hueston Woods State Park, College Corner

One of the most popular activities in Hueston Woods State Park is kayaking. The park’s lake is ideal for kayaking enthusiasts of all skill levels. You can rent a kayak from the park’s marina or bring your own and launch it from the public boat ramp.

Aside from kayaking, the park has plenty of other activities to keep you busy. Hiking enthusiasts can explore over 12 miles of trails that wind through the park’s forests and meadows, while wildlife watchers can spot birds, deer, and other animals.

Camping is also a popular activity in Hueston Woods State Park, with campsites and cabins available for rent. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or an extended stay, the park has accommodations to suit all needs.

Paint Creek, Bainbridge

Paint Creek, Bainbridge

Paint Creek is rated as a Class I river, making it ideal for kayakers of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced paddlers. The water flow is gentle and easy to navigate, allowing for a relaxing and enjoyable kayaking experience.

For those without a kayak, consider renting from Paint Creek Adventures, which offers rental rates starting at $25 per person for a three-hour trip. All necessary equipment, such as kayaks, paddles, and life jackets, are included to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking experience.

After your kayaking adventure, stop by one of the nearby restaurants, such as Jerry’s Pizza, The Rustic Cafe, or The Cove at Twin Lakes. These establishments offer a variety of cuisines to suit every taste bud, ensuring a delightful dining experience after your time on the water.

Big Darby Creek, OH

Big Darby Creek, OH

Darby Creek is an attractive stream in central Ohio. This Creek is a wonderful destination for kayakers wanting to explore Ohio’s unique biodiversity. The river offers a range of Class 2 water levels and a beautiful landscape is 84 miles long which makes it one of the best destinations to kayak. As you swim down the creek your mind can sense nature at its best as you turn and twist in soft waters. Sounds of birds chanting or scenes of turtles of various types carved from the logs and stones of the riverbank will be fun to ride.

Hocking River (Hocking Hills)

The best river kayaking experience is for everyone with the right skills. It was claimed by historians in the Hocking hills that the sandstone was dated about 350 million years before the Ohio River was established. Until then everything was under water – under the sea and fairly level. But millions of years of rise and tribulation slowly created our hills and rivers today. Hocking Hills State Park is an obvious place to visit when you visit Ohio.

Cowan Lake State Park

Cowan Lake State Park

How do you get a good camping experience in Hickling Hills? And if the bedrock in Hocking is over 300 million years old you can see 500M old sandstone and fossils here at Cowan Lake. Ancient and long-lost animals and species have survived forever within the magnificent sandstones of the region. We have many more things to explore.

Paint Creek Lake, OH

Paint Creek Lake, OH

This 1148-acre lake provides the perfect spot for those looking for spectacular landscapes. Besides being ideally located, there are many good places to view animals and fish. The lake has several launch sites within Paint Creek State Park. You may kayak from north to west along Paint Creek or Rattlesnake Creek if you have access from the east. You may see one of the launches points off Route 753 while you paddle Rattlesnake Creek and one at Paint Creek State Park campground. The lakes offer a quiet space to relax at the sea and the beaches.

Vermilion River Reservation

Vermilion River Reservation

Best for lots of outdoor activities and beautiful natural beauty, the Vermilion River is 66 miles in length and is an attractive sight. It is well known for its red sand throughout its flow and turns the water dreary brown as rains start pouring. A muddy river in red solids will always be far more beautiful than they appear in the picture. The river is only a few aspect of this story. VR R is divided between two parts and the Vermillion river is in the middle. One side is Mill Hollow. The other side is Bacon Wood. Mill Hollow was originally a community park which opened in 1960.

Cuyahoga River flows

The course runs throughout Cleveland and ends at Lake Erie. The River itself is a scenic route that will satisfy anyone who loves the natural world paddling but more about that story. These things will come up soon though. Firstly, I’d like to mention Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Now you know how the park operates along river channels. It’s usually the valley around the rivers – forest, hills, wildlife… Jazz. Despite being in a protected state, it has an obvious reason.

The Boston Shore Visitor Center is a must-visit for anyone looking to learn more about the park’s history and ecology, with informative exhibits and knowledgeable staff to guide visitors. Meanwhile, Red Lock and Station Road Bridge Trailhead offer stunning views and access to some of the park’s most picturesque areas.

The Maumee River, OH

The Mamee River runs through Toledo, Lake Erie, on the 109-kilometre water trail that starts at the Indiana border. It is available in 39 points and is good to use on both short and long journeys. Those that want to paddle all lengths can launch from Riverside Park, Antwerp. Lake Erie junction is a bustling hub of economic activity and a popular destination for travelers and locals alike. With its stunning natural beauty and abundant recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder that this area is such a beloved part of the Great Lakes region.

Akron-Cleveland Area

Akron-Cleveland Area

The Akron-Cleveland region offers a wide choice of water sports and recreational activities. For a relaxed trip through arguably the most picturesque river in Florida, go to the class 1 Mohaica. It offers the ideal escape from the cities and the forests when passing through quiet and forested valleys. The Upper Cuyahoga River is a popular kayaking spot. It has little obstacles and water flows slowly enough so novices can get through it easily. Other sections of the river mostly flow through private land or can become very narrow for kayaking.

Q&A Section

Where is the best place to kayak in Ohio (OH)?

Ohio Kayaks: more than 15 good places to paddle and kaya: Hinckley Lake, Ohio River, Lake Erie, Hocking River, Hocking River (Hocking Hills), Paint Creek Lake, Cuyahoga River, Vermilion River Reservation, Vermilion-Ohio Kayak Trail, Mohican River, The Maumee River, Cowan Lake State Park, The Great Miami River, Little Miami River, Akron-Cleveland Area, Big Darby Creek, Put-In-Bay, Mohican River Water Trail

Do you need a permit to kayak in Ohio?

Registrations are necessary for all recreational boats and motor boats in Ohio. NOTE: Kiteboats, paddleboats and float tubes can be rented without registration to the State.

Is it safe to kayak in the Ohio River?

The Falls of the Ohio lead Canoe hikers where a naturalistic guide can accompany you, share the story about the area, and take you to parts of the fossil beds you can not reach by walking.

What are the rules for kayaking the Ohio River?

In simple terms registering the boat and carrying the emergency equipment and lights is required. While not a law in any way, exercising logical judgment while out on the sea is a must.

Can you bring your kayak to Hocking Hills?

Canoe adventures on Horseshoe Hill. There are various options for enjoying surface paddling in the mountains. You can go on the Hocking River with a kayak and paddle up to a pick-up point, or take a stroll around the beautiful lakes nearby for a peaceful, relaxing vacation.

Can you drink beer in a kayak in Ohio?

It’s easy if we ask it: yes. It is illegal to use a ship for alcoholic beverages and is regulated in every 50 US States.

What is Muskingum River?

The Muskingum River is a serene waterway that winds through Ohio’s picturesque countryside, offering plenty of outdoor adventure and relaxation opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Press ESC to close