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Need Recommendations! 4-5 Day Remote Paddling Trip within 10 hrs drive of Columbus, OH (May or Oct)

I'm looking for some recommendations and hope that I've come to the right place. I plan an annual trip - backpacking, paddling, etc - with some friends. This will be our 11th consecutive year and we try to visit a new location each trip. In terms of river trips, we've done the Colorado (AZ/CA), Manistee (MI), Big South Fork (KY/TN), and Buffalo (AR). Other years were spent backpacking (MI, WV, IL) or paddling lakes (NY, MI, NC). The more remote we can get, the better. I'm looking for ideas for our 2018 trip. This is our basic criteria...

  • We'll likely be going in early October (but could possibly do a May trip if river levels would make or break a great trip)

  • Trip length will be 4 day/3 nights - but don't mind a shorter trip in terms of miles and spending a day in camp (hiking, fishing, etc)

  • Would like to find something within a 10 hr drive (in any direction) from Columbus, OH.
  • We have a BRIS 15ft river raft and several kayaks. We'd love to use the raft (although not looking for a whitewater trip) - but also willing to rent equipment from a local outfitter if necessary --- NOTE: a little float-dragging is ok if it means we can use the raft
  • The more remote... the better. Need a trip where primitive camping is expected - we don't want to camp in an established campground each night

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm hoping someone has a hidden gem that I've overlooked in my research!

Thanks in advance for anyone's ideas/suggestions!

Ryan

Comments

  • "the upper new river" would fit your bill. In Oct. water levels are typically low- but the New is a large river so is runnable all year. Above Cunard (put in for lower gorge run) the river is pretty much a class II and III river, being drop pool in nature, You are not looking for a ww trip but you are going to want some push for the raft. In May there are many more possibilities as the water table is almost always higher than Oct. In WV the elk, gauley, greenbrier, bluestone, potomac all have stretches that would be suitable. In KY/TN white oak creek, clear creek would feel really remote and would probably have water in May. Maybe check the aw pages for wv, tn and kentucky. Focus on the class I and II runs. Good chance they'll run in May, back up could be the upper new river- Sandstone to Cunard if you come up short on water. If you need some help with the rapids I or one of my river running buds could help you out.

    https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/view/

  • Head up to Grayling, Michigan. You can go East on the Ausable for 4-6 day paddle to Lake Huron, or head West on the Manistee for 4-6 day paddle towards Cadillac/lake Michigan. Most of it is through national forest with ample camping.

  • Thanks, tdaniel! I'll do some homework on those rivers and see how the group feels. We have a split group - half want the ww, half want an easy float trip. I'm always the trip planner and have to find that balance!

    Thanks, Tortoise! I was born/raised in Michigan - so I'm pretty familiar with the Michigan rivers. We did a 4 day paddle on the Manistee in Oct-2016 which was a nice, easy trip - had enough stretches of wilderness that it felt remote (as remote as it gets within a day's drive of Columbus, OH!)... but definitely will consider the Au Sable this year!

    We're thinking of doing an easier trip this year, as well... and then plan something big for 2019 (Ontario/Temagami or possibly out West). We tend to do something big every-other-year... and last year was a 12 hr drive. The older we get... and the more obligations we have (work/family/kids)... the harder it becomes to get away for more than a long weekend!

    Really appreciate both of your suggestions!

  • edited February 20

    If you're looking for easy the Current in Missouri would fill the bill nicely. A shade under eight hours straight down 70, good gravel bar camping with lots of neat little side hikes, suitable for your raft and should be stunning in October. It's also spring fed so you don't have to worry about getting shut out on water. You could even throw in a night or two on the Eleven Point for good measure.

  • Deuce, great suggestion! That's definitely a river that's slipped under the radar and I hadn't considered. Is it fairly 'remote' in terms of long undeveloped stretches and primitive camping? I think we'd be willing to make the 8 +/- hour drive

  • @Paddling_Ryan said:
    Deuce, great suggestion! That's definitely a river that's slipped under the radar and I hadn't considered. Is it fairly 'remote' in terms of long undeveloped stretches and primitive camping? I think we'd be willing to make the 8 +/- hour drive

    Yes sir! It's a national scenic river; similar in many ways to the Buffalo and offers primitive camping anywhere you find suitable. The scenery isn't quite as spectacular as the Buff but it's still beautiful, especially in the fall. Above Van Buren (which you'd never approach unless you'd wanted to) there's no riverside development other than the occasional outfitter (where else would we get our ice cream sammiches?). Happy to give you specific beta if you'd like.

  • @Paddling_Ryan said:
    Thanks, tdaniel! I'll do some homework on those rivers and see how the group feels. We have a split group - half want the ww, half want an easy float trip. I'm always the trip planner and have to find that balance!

    Thanks, Tortoise! I was born/raised in Michigan - so I'm pretty familiar with the Michigan rivers. We did a 4 day paddle on the Manistee in Oct-2016 which was a nice, easy trip - had enough stretches of wilderness that it felt remote (as remote as it gets within a day's drive of Columbus, OH!)... but definitely will consider the Au Sable this year!

    We're thinking of doing an easier trip this year, as well... and then plan something big for 2019 (Ontario/Temagami or possibly out West). We tend to do something big every-other-year... and last year was a 12 hr drive. The older we get... and the more obligations we have (work/family/kids)... the harder it becomes to get away for more than a long weekend!

    Really appreciate both of your suggestions!

    Awesome, best of luck and keep us posted.

    Definitely do weekdays on the ausable if you can, the weekends can be pretty busy.

  • Head North, young man! Cross a couple big bridges and you'll do well.

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