Columbus, Ohio.

Anyone from around Columbus please? I’m curious as to paddling opportunities, rivers, lakes. Forests etc. May have an opportunity there and was wondering what it’s like to live around there.

Thanks in advance.

Columbus Outdoors Pursuits has extensive paddling activities.

does Columbus have plenty of rivers, lakes etc. around it? I’m looking for info on the area. Not a paddling club per se. Thank you.

Paddling near Columbus

I live about 1 hr northwest of Columbus. Good places to paddle near me are Kiser Lake (no motors allowed), Indian Lake (watch out for Jet-skis and pontoon boats), Little Miami river (beautiful undeveloped river class I). I imagine Alum Creek, Buckeye Lake, and Hoover Lake, which are nearer to Columbus, are OK for paddling but I’ve never been there.

I live in the hills of S.E. Ohio about 75 miles from Columbus or “Cowtown” as we all call it. So I view Columbus as the somewhat distant state capitol and a place where I do business from time to time. Columbus is pretty much in the geographic center of the state. As another poster mentioned Franklin County (Columbus) has a few lakes/reservoirs near it and some rivers, but it’s not known for its great paddle-craft opportunities or its forests. It’s flat – it’s the seemingly endless suburbs… The entire county is about all built up at this point. In fact the Columbus area is pretty much the definition of modern American civilization replete with miles and miles of freeways (outer belts, connectors and one each of E/W and N/S Interstates), shopping malls and all the trappings of a large city that grew at an alarming rate in the last thirty years. Columbus has the largest population of any single city in Ohio (though both greater Cincinnati and especially greater Cleveland are much larger overall).

There are however good paddling and hiking opportunities as you head out of Columbus an hour or two, especially if you go south and southeast towards Ohio’s hill country. We have many rivers in the hill country and thousands of acres of forests including three sections of the Wayne National Forest (the Little Muskingum River is excellent and runs through one division), Zaleski State Forest (Raccoon Creek is a very scenic stream that runs through) and the Hocking Hills area in Hocking County (no stream, but great hiking/scenery). There are actually many rivers to choose from in the area – but you need to get well out of town.

I personally wouldn’t want to live in Columbus, but if the work’s there for you and you can locate yourself on the edge (think south or southeast of city center) you could “get away” from the hubbub of the city with a reasonable drive to go paddling/hiking/biking/etc without too much hassle.

Best of luck with your decision! Randall

Not too far…
…besides the Little Miami, there is Caesar’s

Creek Lake, a 2800 Acre lake about an hour south

of Columbus. East on SR 73 off of exit 45 of

I-71. Harveysburg, Ohio. We live 5 minutes from

Caesar’s Creek Lake.

It’s easy to find on a map, so send me some email

and we’ll get out. I’m primarily a WW kayaker,

but purely love touring too.

Thanks to all.

from dayton
I live in Dayton. I canoe the little miami a great deal. I also would say to check out Kiser. I love it cause there are no motors and that eliminates a great deal of traffic. Look at Deer creek and CJ brown. The Big darby has a livery on it and is a beautiful piece of water. Look at a map. The Ohio atls avalable in most sporting goods stores(Galyans, Gander Mountain). They have lists of canoing trips and all the lakes with ramps marked.

What he was saying

– Last Updated: Feb-19-04 11:37 AM EST –

was that their (COPS)schedule would tell you where local paddlers prefer to go.

Don’t overlook…
Rocky Fork Creek, Paint Creek and the Mad River. All are within 1-1.5 hours from you. I lead trips for the Dayton Canoe Club all around the area. Feel free to e-amil me for more info.


tell me about it.
i was in polaris and westerville(?)the other day and the whole area looks flat and way too busy for moi. lots of good eatery’s and shopping opportunities but i didnt see much water. the nations fastest growing city i’m told. what water is right near columbus though? i’m going there again soon myself. otterbein.

Hocking Hills
We made a trip from Cincinnati to Hocking Hills approx. 2 yrs ago. Great class I to I+ water. Very scenic and peaceful. At the time, they had several trips available from 5 miles to a 20 + mile overnight camping trip. They drop you off up river, take YOUR camping gear and set it up on a small island, you paddle and camp, they come back in the morning and tear everything down for you and have it waiting for you back at the livery when you arrive. We plan on making that trip this summer.

But to be more specific, the Big Darby and Stillwater are within easy reach and are both scenic protected rivers. In addition to COPS, you could check out the Cincypaddlers group on the Yahoo site and see where they paddle. North of Columbus, there’s some WW on the Sandusky and Cuyahoga. Someone already mentioned Rocky Fork and Paint creeks, some of the prettiest paddling in the state. Also, the Licking near Zanesville has a very scenic gorge.

Hey, Dave, I’ve lived in or near Columbus for 30 years, and grew up in the Dayton area. There are lots of opportunities to paddle around here, although there is no whitewater to speak of. I don’t care much for flat water paddling so won’t mention the myriad reservoirs in the area (but almost all of Ohio’s rivers are dammed and flat water paddling opportunities abound).

The Big and Little Darby Creeks are both nearby, and both are classified as Wild and Scenic Rivers, with the Big Darby being classified as “one of the last great places” by the Nature Conservancy. Both class I, and my “home” streams.

2 rivers meet in Columbus: The Olentangy and the Scioto. Both are big, lazy, and dirty, with lots of low head dams. There are dozens of good rivers within 2 hours of Columbus, and I’ve paddled most of them. I firmly believe that Ohio looks best from the bed of a river.

I can provide lots more information. Much of it has already been mentioned above. Feel free to e-mail if you want to chat…There is a book about Ohio paddling which is a great source of information; I’ll get you the title & author if you want to check it out.


Echo that!
Rocky Fork is my very favorite spot. It is absolutely beautiful, and after a good rainfall, it is really fun!

But pronounce it correctly
It’s “clum-bus.” Just west of Nerk.

The book is “Canoeing and Kayaking Ohio’s Streams - an access guide for paddlers and anglers”. Good info and maps, but a little old, copyrighted in 1983 and reprinted in 94.

Central Ohio
I have lived in a Columbus suburb for 17 years and don’t mind it a bit. I moved here from San Diego, too, so that was quite a switch. I miss San Diego a lot at this time of year, but the rest of the time I’m OK. I really love Big Darby Creek for paddling. The water level fluctuates a lot, but it is fun at a variety of water levels. If you locate south of the city you can get to rivers in W. VA fairly easily–there are some trip reports on this site I believe. Good luck with your decision. We were (and still are)avid birders when we moved here and I remember checking with local birders as part of making our decision. One interesting thing about Ohio is that about 2/3 of the state was glaciated and 1/3 wasn’t, making for quite a lot of variety in terms of topography, plants and animals.

As a reformed buckeye…

– Last Updated: Feb-24-04 10:04 PM EST –

from Cincinnati, I remember well how frustrated I was as a yute. I'd get these wild hairs and head for Florida or Kentucky to canoe some honest to god backcountry. Now I'm in Idaho. I still run into crowds and am dissatisfied with the flat water opportunities. Too dam many roads and dams. But alas, that's what we have and I guess you gotta just make the best of it. Someday, the Canadians and Alaskans will be complaining about all the congestion and sewage in their rivers too. Maybe they'll find water on Mars, and we can just rocket off to prime canoe country in space. This time though, we gotta remember not to build the roads along the river valleys. Millions of future martian canoeists will thank us.

Almost forgot, don't forget the Miami Whitewater river just over the Indiana line. Its best during peak flow periods. The Little Miami through John Bryon State Park can be thrilling. A buddy bent a rented aluminum canoe right in half there once.

Bent canoe?
Let me guess: He got stuck sideways in the millstream gate just above the Jacoby access.