Login | December 09, 2019

Paddling on the Scioto River

Pete’s World

Published: August 12, 2019

Looking for some pretty cool paddling that’s not far from home? Well, I’ve got a field tested river that’s just a couple hours down the road. Yup, you can leave Friday after work, paddle through Saturday afternoon, then be back on your deck Saturday night enjoying a cold beverage.

The river I’m referring to is the Scioto, and though it’s not one of the state’s most recognized waterways, it’s still a really fun, really scenic river. Not only that, but the Scioto’s also a great entry level ride for novice canoeists/kayakers. And because the Scioto meanders through such a diverse array of landscapes there’s enough distinct territory to satisfy any taste.

Interestingly enough, the Scioto runs smack dab through the middle of Columbus, if you’re key for some very cool “urban” paddling. But hey, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy then there’s also sections that wander through miles of farmland, across acres of bottomlands and past great swaths of hardwood forest.

Now I paddled a 21-mile down river section back in 2015 - and it’s a stretch that left me longing for more. So I’m offering up two Scioto sections on my “wish list,” plus a quick review of my 2015 trip.

But before I discuss these stretches, I offer this caveat: You definitely NEED two vehicles, or one vehicle for the drop-off and rendezvous. In the latter case, I suggest you bribe your significant other (just like I did) with a great dinner.

All right, so here’s several popular sections out of the Scioto’s long and sinuous 230-mile trek to the Ohio River.

The Leisurely 8-Mile Urban Paddle

The put-in is in Dublin, just south of the O’ Shaughnessy Dam on Glick Road (which is the dam) at access area B. The put-out is at the boat ramp at Scioto Audubon Metro Park in Columbus.

Particularly interesting here is the fact that one of Central Ohio’s most storied suburbs is said to appear wild when seen from the river. And the stretch from Amberleigh Community Park to Dublin Springs Park is described as an amazingly tranquil wildlife corridor that’s often frequented by eagles, cormorants and wood ducks.

Then there’s the Downtown Columbus section, where paddlers pass under at least 20 bridges and experience some spectacular urban scenery. The Downtown area has been totally revamped what with the removal of the Rich Street Dam, so boaters can take a snack/lunch break at Rich Street and then continue south as the river turns into a reservoir along the last mile and a half of the trip.

The Field & Stream Paddle

This 16-mile stretch from SR-762 to US-22 in Circleville, OH is another wonderfully reviewed section of the Scioto.

Put-in is south of Columbus along the SR-762 bridge. Put-out is at Elmon Richards Fishing Access at the SR 22/56 bridge in Circleville. The setting for this paddle is very much on the wild side, where there’s a ton of farmland, forest, field, and lowland. Plan for long tranquil stretches where it’s just you, the river and your surroundings…devoid of bridges, buildings, AND people. So if you long to get away from society for a sunny Saturday afternoon with nature, this section is a sure bet.

Done at a moderate pace the paddle should take 4.5-5.5 hours to complete.

The Urban/Rural Combo Paddle

Now my third offering is the 21-mile section I paddled in 2015. It begins in Chillicothe at the Yoctangee Park boat access, and it ends a mile up Salt Creek at the SR 35 bridge, so you’ll need to paddle a full day to bag this trip.

Now I have to admit that the urban section through Chillicothe is far from the upscale paddle through Dublin. Unfortunately this is a rust-belt city that just hasn’t rebounded. YET…it’s still an interesting look.

Yoctangee Park is quite nice, but the paddling south of Chillicothe…that blew me away. I negotiated a host of “mini” rapids - which I jokingly call Class .25 rapids - and I passed beavers taking branches to their dens, mother ducks shepherding ducklings, and deer and waterfowl passively grazing at river’s edge. I also witnessed a gazillion fish launching out of the water chasing insects.

It was an unforgettable day indeed.

Yup, that was the afternoon paddle which got me hooked on the Scioto. And to steal a great line: “I’ll be back.”