Where to paddle in Dayton, and what to know before you go

Ready, set, paddle! Anytime is the right time to get out on the water and experience Dayton’s paddling scene.

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What is paddling? It's a generic classification for vessels (and related activities) that are powered by paddles — canoes, kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) and rafts. This does not include rowing with oars or motor boats, said Erik Dahlstrom, outdoor recreation coordinator for Five Rivers MetroParks.


For beginners: In this region, lakes are a great place to experience paddlesports for the first time, Dahlstrom said.

It’s important to know that rivers are more challenging because of the river’s current and hazards like strainers and low-head dams, he said.

For the more experienced: Eastwood and RiverScape Metroparks have whitewater features that offer more experienced paddlers a place to practice techniques that they will need on more advanced rivers, while also having a separate passage option for less experienced paddlers, he said.

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Credit: Photo: Five Rivers MetroParks

Credit: Photo: Five Rivers MetroParks

You can canoe, kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) in the following MetroParks:

• Eastwood MetroPark – Mad River Eastwood Lake, Blue Lake, and lagoon access.

• Englewood MetroPark – Stillwater River and lake access.

• Germantown MetroPark – Twin Creek access.

• Huffman MetroPark – Mad River and Huffman Lake access.

• Island MetroPark  — Great Miami River and lagoon access.

• RiverScape MetroPark – Great Miami River access.

• Taylorsville MetroPark – Great Miami River access.

• Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark – Stillwater River access.


The Stillwater, Great Miami and Mad rivers are part of the Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail – the largest water trail system in Ohio. The trail collectively offers 265 miles of waterway accessible to recreational boaters, fishermen and wildlife watchers. A water trail is a network of publicly accessible facilities that provide opportunities to fish; launch canoes, kayaks, and other craft; and explore the natural and cultural heritage along the river.

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Five Rivers MetroParks does not rent paddling equipment, so you will need to bring your own, or rent equipment from:

• Whitewater Warehouse, 104 Valley St., Dayton; 937-222-7020; Facebook

• Great Miami Outfitters, 25 E. Linden Ave., Miamisburg; (937) 847-8787; Facebook

• Adventures on the Great Miami, 1995 E. Ross Road, Tipp City; (937) 266-6252; Facebook

• Twin Creek Kayak & Canoe Livery, 1341 W. Market St, Germantown; (937) 903-8934

• Barefoot Canoe Livery, 235 E. Tipp Pike, West Milton, call: (937) 698-4351 or text: (937) 344-2833; offers kayaking and canoeing trips; Facebook

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If you’re a beginner, Dahlstrom recommends you take a class specific to the vessel that you are going to take out on the water. You can find classes through the following groups:

• Five Rivers MetroParks 

• Whitewater Warehouse 

• Great Miami Outfitters 

• Sierra Club – Miami Group 

• Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft

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Dahlstrom recommends:

1. Do your research. Research the body of water you plan to use. Where is there boater access? If something goes wrong, who can you call for help? What is the weather forecast? Do you need any special gear or training to handle the conditions that you will encounter on the day you go paddling? Etc.

2. Create an equipment list. That list should include a lifejacket, boat, paddle, sun protection, water, food/extra snacks, dry clothes, first aid kit, rescue gear for the body of water you are paddling, whistle and cell phone (put cell phone in a waterproof case), etc. and go through this list before every trip so you do not forget something important.

3. Make a plan for your adventure and share it with someone. Map out a detailed plan in advance and leave it with someone who cares about you.

4. Wear the lifejacket, always.

More safety information can be found by clicking here.

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