Grand River, Ohio (upper section) Info

-- Last Updated: Feb-04-09 1:35 PM EST --

We are hoping to float the Grand River from the State Route 6 access to route 534 bridge (Harpersfield Dam). We would like any information you have on the river conditions such as log jams and so on. I have mapped the mileage of this trip at around 23 miles and scouted most of the roads in the area that cross the river. We understand that the ODNR recently repopulated the area with otters. One of our favorite things to do on the water is photographing otters in Ohio.

I “ran” that section on Google Earth,
and the satellite photography was pretty good. The section you are looking at is unlikely to ever be completely blocked by logjams… it’s just too big. But if it splits around an island, the smaller channel or channels are more likely to get blocked from time to time. If you find a tree spanning the entire river, and there doesn’t appear to be a way under, check the upper, branchy end. Often you can safely push or pull yourself through the small branches of the top of the tree.

Way up, I saw a low head dam, but I think it is well above your proposed put-in.

want someone who actually paddled it

– Last Updated: Feb-04-09 1:33 PM EST –

I too have view it on several maps including google earth. The view on live search maps which shows a birds eye view in some locations doesnt show much and so I really need someone who has actually paddled this stretch of the river. We scouted this river last year and the river at the starting point at St Rt 6 is only about 10 ft wide. It begins to get wider several miles downstream but only in sections. Thanks

Bradstreet Kayakers

The group:

I think they can answer your questions

If you’re going on sections only 10’
wide in places, then reports by others concerning particular logjams are not going to be any help once you’re on the water.

I recommend an approach I’ve used when exploring relatively small streams. Start with the lowest section, the one nearest the end of your overall exploration aims. If it is devoid of logjams, or seems not too bad, then try the next section above it, and so on.

This doesn’t always work. The Towaliga in Georgia has an 8 mile section with occasional class 1-2 rapids, and that section almost never gets blocked by logs. However, the next section below is in “river bottom” country, and log jams can be frequent.

try the message board
at It’s a N. Ohio club, mostly WW paddlers but I’m sure someone there has paddled where you want to go.

Wish I could help with your upcoming exploration but unfortunately I can’t.

However, two things about your post caught my eye. You’re in Ohio and Otters.

I am so new I haven’t even paddled yet except for a class about 5 years ago. I am a bit of a birdwatcher (why do I feel I have to apologize for not being a lister?) and one reason to expand into paddling is the birdwatching opportunties.

My real, now not so secret, hearts desire is the opportunity to view (just quietly view) MUSTELIDS! Otters would be the lifetime experience, mink and weasel would be great too.

I’m in Dayton, if you have suggestions, places, tips etc. please email me!

Good luck

Air-Photo Paddling

– Last Updated: Feb-04-09 7:58 PM EST –

After seeing your rejection of g2d's comments about using air photos, I decided to have a look for myself, but I used Terraserver since that's the photo/map set I'm familiar with. I would say I mostly agree with what he said, but on the other hand, I think the section between Route 6 and the first road bridge you will encounter downstream from there has the definite potential for logjams. That section of the river is only 40 feet wide (using Terraserver's scale), which is well within the range of "logjamability" on this kind of river, though it's getting toward the wider the range where I'd worry much about that. Just from looking at the photos of the upper stretch, I'd say logjams should not be "common" and I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to try this (bear in mind that a bit of bushwacking doesn't deter me from exploring new rivers - you may be different). In any case, I've had good luck using air photos, and quite often, I'll go up a river until I encounter logjams, and when I consult the photos afterward, I usually can find the exact spots where the jams occurred (it's amazing how certain locations stay logjammed for years, making the photos remarkably "up to date").

By the way, the estimate of the river being somewhere around 40 feet wide should be pretty close, based on the sizes of mature trees that can be seen in the photos. Oh, I just took a second look, and for the first half-mile or so below the put-in, the river is the same width as that two lane highway including both shoulders, and two 12-foot lanes plus two 8-foot shoulders = 40 feet.

Here's another thought I had. You are planning a pretty long trip, in case you don't realize it. The tone of your question and the doubts you expressed that air photos can tell you what you need to know make me think you might be something less than an experienced paddler or hard-core river explorer. There's nothing wrong with that and I certainly encourage you to go paddling there, but if you aren't hard-core, I'd strongly suggest that your first trip on this stretch of river go from Route 6 to Cork Cold Springs Road, instead of all the way Harpersfield. That will significantly shorten the trip, which isn't such a bad thing since you will then avoid the last few miles of river which is mostly within a heavily populated area (there are countless houses and backyards running right down to the river in that area). If you are looking for otters, you may not care for paddling past all those houses and other signs of civilization anyway. Here's the main point though. Twentythree miles is a LONG daytrip if you aren't a hard-core paddler. It's even longer if you plan on stopping to take pictures. I'm a bit of a map-and-geology hobbyist, and I can see that this river is slow, so you probably can't expect too much of a free ride from the current. If you want to go 23 miles, you should expect to need 7 hours of paddling, which doesn't leave much time for "messing around" with other things. Seven hours of paddling is also more than enough to ruin your day if you don't already paddle that far on a regular basis. So, plan on taking-out at Cork Cold Springs road, and then tell us how it went.

Saw 5 otters, adult and 4 juveniles,
craning their necks to see me, on the Cartecay River in north Georgia. Otters are coming back everywhere.

Yeah, I wasn’t clear at first about how
high up the watershed he wanted to paddle. There certainly could be trees in the river up there. That’s one reason I suggested he do his 23 miles by sections, starting at the bottom.

One gets used to logjams. We pulled our big tandem over 36 logjams on the Loxahatchee in Florida one time, but the air and water were relatively warm.

The other thing about logjams is they’re quite changeable, so that a report from someone else is often outdated by the time one gets to the river. Usually only the most monstrous logjams are stable enough to persist.

There was a fellow EskimoJo who

– Last Updated: Feb-04-09 9:20 PM EST –

used to post here but has not for some time. I will contact him possibly tomorrow, He works for a canoe livery on the Grand and has run it so many times I'm sure he could do it in the dark. But at this time of year I'm sure no one is running it and strainers can develop overnight in high water and snow melt, as in spring snow melt which is a long way off at this point. It is 9 degrees there tonight and the Cleveland area just got hit with another 9" snow today.

Ice out?
Has the poster checked to see if the grand is even running? I know we’re expecting a warm up this weekend, but I can’t imagine the grand is free of ice and running. That’s still in snow belt territory East of Cleveland. We’re still in single digits all accross northern Ohio.

Secondly anyone tackling water in cold regions this weekend should have proper cold water gear. If we do get a big melt, that water will be fast and cold.

Every year we some story somewhere, where paddlers with cabin feaver head out under geared and underprepared for snowmelt river running. Please be careful.

My two cents,