The Ohio River Recreation Trail connects people and communities to opportunities for adventure on and along the Ohio River. We serve to provide information on river safety, help improve public access and infrastructure and celebrate the unique beauty and culture of the Ohio River.
Paddling and boating on the Ohio:
Paddling on the Ohio River is more like paddling on a lake than a river. If you can paddle on tributary waters, where there are rapids or areas of swift current, then you can certainly paddle on the Ohio River. Monitoring the water conditions of the Ohio River however, is essential to having a safe paddling or boating experience. There are two components that all Ohio River boaters should be aware of when planning their trip: river level, called “stage”, and water velocity.
Unlike tributary waters, the Ohio River stage and velocity can be influenced by rain events that occur upstream of the Recreational Trail, such as in eastern Ohio, West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Significant rain events in these parts of the 204,000 square mile watershed can significantly affect the Ohio River’s stage and velocity observed the length of the Recreational Trail. There are many websites that will provide river users with observed and predicted river conditions.
Water temperature and debris are two other components that cannot be overlooked when planning a paddling or boating adventure on the Ohio River. Water temperature data is available from the USGS Markland Dam or Louisville websites listed above. Unfortunately, there are no debris observation or reporting websites. Debris enters the Ohio River primarily from the tributaries and requires direct observation to assess. Debris accumulates on the upstream sides of the dams on the Ohio River and should be avoided at all costs. All river-borne debris should be given a wide birth and treated like icebergs: the danger lies in what is below the surface that you can’t see, not in what is above the surface that you can see!