Kayaking in Ohio [Best 13 Places to Kayak in Ohio]

The sprawling lakes and winding rivers of Ohio offer breathtaking views, making it an ideal place for kayaking. So, what are the best places to go kayaking in Ohio?

The 13 best destinations to go kayaking in Ohio include:

  1. Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail
  2. Grand River Canoe Livery
  3. Lake Erie
  4. Hinckley Lake
  5. Cuyahoga River
  6. Kokosing River Water Trail
  7. Mohican River
  8. Cowan Lake State Park
  9. Hocking River
  10. Put-in Bay
  11. Twin Creek Canoe
  12. Barefoot Canoe Livery
  13. Bell Brook Canoe

Read on to learn more about the best destinations to go kayaking in Ohio.

Kayaking in Ohio [Best 13 Places to Kayak in Ohio]

kayaking in ohio
Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail

When somebody asks the best state to kayak, Ohio is always one of the places that come to mind. Let’s take a look at the best 13 places to kayak in Ohio.

1. Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail

First on our list of the best places to kayak in Ohio is the Vermillion-Lorain Water Trail. The Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail starts in Brownhelm Township, right at the shale cliffs of the Vermilion River Reservation. It is a 27-mile long stretch of river that goes down to the Lake Erie shorefront. Kayaking along this water trail allows kayakers to paddle either on the quiet lakefront or on the river.

The trail curves through Lorain. As you continue to kayak, you will reach the Bur Oak Picnic of the Black River Reservation located in Elyria.

You have the option to paddle the entire trail or just a portion of it. This is because there are several access points along the river.

There are 4 access points in Vermilion. They include the Showse Park, the Main Street Boat Launch, the South Street Boat Launch, and the Vermilion River Reservation.

If you want to start kayaking in Lorain, there are three access points to choose from. They include the:

  • Port Authority Black River Wharf Boat Launch,
  • Port Authority Lakeside Landing Park, and the
  • Lakeview Park.

There is also an access point if you will be coming from the city of Elyria. It is the Black River Reservation.

2. Grand River Canoe Livery

If you want to go kayaking in Northeast Ohio, try the Grand River Canoe Livery. This destination is a family-owned company located in Rock Creek. It offers guests several kayaking packages, which range from an hour to a week of kayaking experience.

When you kayak along the Grand River, it will take you to Lake County and Ashtabula County. This spans more than 90 miles. Make sure to reach Lake County when you go kayaking to witness the breathtaking views as it takes you to a gorge.

In Ashtabula County, on the other hand, you will be amazed by the view of the farmland and wooded areas. The United States Department of Natural Resources describes this river as wild and scenic.

Aside from the breathtaking scenery, you will also enjoy watching fish and forest animals. Since the water is slow-flowing, it is a great opportunity to leisurely paddle or even goes fishing.

3. Lake Erie

Lake Erie is one of the 5 Great Lakes in North America. It is the 4th largest lake out of those 5 and is the 11th largest worldwide. It has more than 2,700 miles of shoreline.

Obviously, you are capable of doing any paddling you want on this water. You will find advanced paddlers here, too, because of the like’s comfort for paddling longer distances. Suffice to say that Lake Erie offers a kayaking experience unique from other kayaking destinations.

In this area, you will find several shorefront shops offering kayak rentals. So, it’s not a problem at all if you don’t have your own kayak. 

4. Hinckley Lake

Another great spot for kayaking in Ohio is Hinckley Lake. You can find Hinckley Lake at the Hinckley Reservation in Hinckley Township, Ohio. The park surrounds the lake that measures 90 acres. The access point is the Hinckley Lake Boat Launch.

The most popular activities here are boating and paddlesports. But there are other activities you can do at the park-like rock climbing on the surrounding cliffs.

Hinckley Lake waters are calm. It is also easy to navigate, so it’s perfect for leisure kayaking.

5. Cuyahoga River

The Cuyahoga River is one of the infamous rivers in Northwestern Ohio. The entire stretch measures roughly 100 miles. It was even recognized as an American Heritage River in 1998.

When kayaking, you can begin in Burton. It will allow you to traverse several counties until you reach Lake Erie. The river’s upper portion will take you to Portage County.

A portion of this river is called a state scenic river. You don’t have to ask which part of the river it is because you’d know it once you’re there. You’re in for some breathtaking views.

The river will also take you to Summit County and reach the Cuyahoga Valley, National Park. Here, you will definitely feel relaxed as you admire the beauty of nature. As you kayak, you will enjoy the peace and solitude of the surrounding woods.

You will reach Cuyahoga County as you continue to kayak. Also, you will reach the Lake Erie junction. There, you have the option to paddle the river or head down instead to the lake’s open waters.

It’s great that the Cuyahoga River has already been successfully treated. Did you know that it was heavily polluted in the 1960s? In fact, it even caught fire in 1969. But when you look at it now, it’s hard to believe that it indeed happened in the past.

6. Kokosing River Water Trail

The whole stretch of the Kokosing River measures more than 50 miles. To kayak, you can start in Morrow County and end on the Walhonding River. It was recognized as the first designated water trail in 2005.

There aren’t a lot of rapids here, making it relatively convenient for kayaking. However, you’ll encounter a few tricky obstacles, such as boulders and rocks. So, you better be alert too.

It’s alright to paddle as far as you want since several access points along the river. You can stop anytime you need to.

7. Mohican River

kayaking in northeast ohio

There are several water activities you can do on the Mohican River. Aside from kayaking, you can also do tubing, rafting, and canoeing. A couple of portions of this river have also been officially designated as “scenic.”

The entire stretch measures roughly 40 miles. If you can’t traverse the entire stretch, you can go kayaking on just a portion of it. The river starts in Ashland County and will take you all the way to the Walhonding River.

You can float easily without exerting too much effort since the water isn’t rough, but it smoothly and slowly moves. It’s a good way to relax since you will not be putting in a lot of effort.

8. Cowan Lake State Park

Cowan Lake is situated in the middle of the State Park. It’s an ideal kayaking destination if you’re a beginner. You will not only appreciate the open waters, but you will also love the surrounding colorful trees. It’s also an ideal place to bring kids.

Aside from kayaking, Cowan Lake State Park is also a famous fishing destination. 

9. Hocking River

Another great kayaking destination is the Hocking River. It starts in Fairfield Township and goes all the way down to the Ohio River. Its upper and middle portions are ideal for different types of paddlesports.

If you don’t have your own kayak, there are rental stores near the access point. They also have tubes and canoes aside from kayaks.

Portions of the river have rapids, but some have calm waters. In essence, it is a perfect kayaking destination for all skill levels.

10. Put-in Bay

Next on our list of the best places to go kayaking in Ohio is Put-in-Bay. Technically, Put-in-Bay is not located in mainland Ohio. However, this island is located just off the coast and is nonetheless considered part of the state.

Adventurous paddlers typically visit Put-in-Bay. If you’re one of them, you can start kayaking from mainland Ohio and go all the way to the island. Others opt to ride the ferry going to the island and start kayaking from there.

When you visit this place, you will be amazed by the interesting spots it has to offer. The island only measures 2 miles by 4 miles. Nonetheless, there are plenty of activities you can do on the shore.

11. Twin Creek Canoe

If you want to go kayaking in Dayton, Ohio, check out the Twin Creek Canoe. The Twin Creek Canoe provides kayaking services that will take you to the waters of Germantown. Germantown is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area.

You have the option to use your own kayak or rent one from them. The Twin Creek Canoe offers rental services for 24 hours.

12. Barefoot Canoe Livery

The Barefoot Canoe Livery is another option for kayaking in Dayton, Ohio. It will take you to the Scenic Stillwater River and even to the Great Miami. Their packages include a 4-mile trip or a 9-mile trip. 

13. Bell Brook Canoe

Another excellent Ohio kayaking spot is Bell Brook Canoe. Through the Bell Brook Canoe, you can have the chance to traverse the Little Miami River. In case you didn’t know, it is the very first registered scenic river in Ohio.

The river features a gentle current, making it an ideal kayaking destination for beginners.

Ohio Kayak Laws

kayak ohio

Before you go kayaking in Ohio, make sure that you know the governing rules and regulations of the state. The state’s Kayak laws are established and implemented by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the kayak laws of Ohio. Always make sure that you are not violating any rules. That way, you will fully enjoy your kayaking time.

Let’s briefly discuss each point:

1. Ohio Kayaking Laws

In Ohio, both canoes and kayaks are officially recognized as non-motorized watercraft.

2. Kayak Registration

The Ohio government requires all canoes and kayaks to be registered. However, they are not required to have a title.

3. Motorized Kayak Registration

Any watercraft with an outboard motor and produces power of less than 10 horsepower is required to register. However, they are exempt from titling.

By watercraft, it includes a trolling motor on a kayak or canoe.

4. Kayak Operator Licensing

If you’re a person born on or after January 1, 1982, you can’t operate a vessel that produces power above 10 horsepower without taking a boating course and passing a proficiency exam.

Upon passing the course and the exam that are both approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), you are required to present a certificate which the Ohio Department will then approve of Natural Resources.

5. Motorized Kayaking Age

Motorized kayak operators must at least be 12 years old to be able to operate on Ohio waters. Direct supervision by someone who is at least 18 years old is also required.

6. Kayaking BUI Law

Ohio strictly implements its Boating Under the Influence (BUI) or Operating Under the Influence (OUI) law for kayakers.

No person can go kayaking if their blood alcohol content is .08 percent or above. In other words, no person can go kayaking if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

7. Kayak Lights Law

Between sunset and sunrise, kayaks and all other vessels are required by law to display running lights while underway or while at anchor.

8. Kayaking Life Jacket Law

Kayaks and all other vessels must be equipped with a sufficient number of personal flotation devices (PFDs) approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). 

9. Kayak VDS Law

Ohio strictly requires Visual Distress Signals (VDS) onboard while kayaking along the Muskingum River, the Ohio River, and Lake Erie.

10. Kayaking Sounding Devices

If you’re kayaking along the waters of the Muskingum River, the Ohio River, and Lake Erie, you are required by law to carry a sounding device.

As for motorized vessels, all are strictly required to carry one.

Conclusion – Kayaking in Ohio [Best 13 Places to Kayak in Ohio]

The 13 best destinations to go kayaking in Ohio include:

  1. Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail
  2. Grand River Canoe Livery
  3. Lake Erie
  4. Hinckley Lake
  5. Cuyahoga River
  6. Kokosing River Water Trail
  7. Mohican River
  8. Cowan Lake State Park
  9. Hocking River
  10. Put-in Bay
  11. Twin Creek Canoe
  12. Barefoot Canoe Livery
  13. Bell Brook Canoe

Ohio consists of large rivers and other interesting bodies of water, making it an ideal destination for kayaking and other water sports. Make sure, though, that you’re familiar with the kayaking laws of the state. That way, you will be free from worries and enjoy your kayaking experience.