Paddling the Ohio

Is there anyone out there who has paddled extensively on the Ohio and is willing to have a phone conversation about it. Am trying to decide on a section to paddle and would like to speak with someone with first-hand knowledge of that beautiful river.

The Ohio is almost 1,000 miles long and passes through or along 6 states. Can you be more specific about which portions you are considering? I’ve done a little of the Ohio where it begins in Pittsburgh at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela. It’s a big industrial river with a lot of commercial traffic and 20 dams and locks.

Thanks, Willowleaf. Actually, I’m casting about for ideas.
I’ve looked at it at Pittsburg (from Point State Park) and it indeed looks big and industrial there. I’m wondering what the Ohio is like through West Virginia.
I’ve paddled it around Cincinnati and then downstream. Am somewhat familiar with the river between there and Madison, Indiana. That stretch — after you leave Cincinnati — is rather bucolic. At last the stretches I’ve experienced are.
The Kentucky River also seems enchanting. … and might be a better choice.

Have you seen that we have a Water Trail map now for the sections from the Point to the Ohio line?

Thanks. No, I didn’t know of it. Looks good. There’s the “Ohio River Guidebook” by Jerry Hay that’s excellent. Thanks, Willowleaf.

Lots of barge traffic on the Ohio, I live in Huntington, WV but only paddle upstream from there. Not so industrial as closer to Pittsburgh and Cincy. Two sections I would recommend are Point Pleasant WV to Huntington WV and Greenup, KY to Portsmouth, OH.

The Kentucky River has a lot less boat traffic, would be a bit more isolated, less flow too.

Some drawbacks to the Ohio down here near its source are combined sewage overflow after heavy rains dumping biocontaminants in the rivers (we have had heavy rain all day today so far so I will be avoiding our 4 big Mississippi feeders for a few days until that gunk dilutes and flushes a bit) and some deadly low-head dams at the locks. There are plenty of warnings for those looming monsters but we have lost a number of boaters, including kayakers, who were inattentive to them. You need to lock through them – portaging often is impractical due to the steep slopes and industrial development. I don’t often paddle the Ohio for that reason alone. I have 3 good flatwater stretches of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Youghiogheny between dams for day trips. If I want a scenic river for multiday camping I would head for the West Branch Susquehanna 2.5 hours drive northeast. That 223 mile water trail is one of the nicest in the Northeast.

Thanks, Willowleaf. So many great places to paddle in this beautiful land of ours.

Thanks, agooding. It’s a beautiful river … in places. Lovely riverfront towns, too.