3 local kayakers share their story

By Tim Smith

Photo: Jeremy Cox finds adventure paddling down all five rivers in the Dayton area

Daytonians have always had the spirit of adventure, from flight to hiking the Appalachian Trail. Three local kayak enthusiasts decided to prove that you don’t have to leave home to find adventure by traveling the entire length of the Great Miami River. Chad Ingle, Jeremy Cox, and John Donnelly will discuss their trip at the Habitat Environmental Center in Kettering on Feb. 7.

The journey began at the headwaters of Indian Lake in Logan County and ended at the Ohio River. It took eight days, from May 28 to June 4. This is only the latest trek that the trio has undertaken, one that was part of a long-range plan.

“Several years ago, we came up with the idea of paddling all five rivers in the Dayton area,” spokesperson Chad Ingle says. “The Mad River, Stillwater River, Great Miami River, Wolf Creek, and Twin Creek, along with the Little Miami River, which is not part of the Five Rivers Metro Parks. To date, we have done all of them except Wolf Creek and Twin Creek. Really, we just wanted to do a local adventure in our backyard and get the word out that we have all these great rivers here in the Dayton area.”

Planning the trip took time and extensive research.

“We utilized both Miami Conservancy District river maps and Google Maps to determine where dams and obstacles are at on the river,” Ingle says. “We also created a spreadsheet with checkpoints showing bridges, dams, camps, and take-out points. All of these points had a coordinate on them in case of emergency. The cool thing about the trip is we just planned and went! We wanted to showcase the local rivers and the fact that anyone can get out and do a big or small trip in the area without going out West to find adventure.”

According to Ingle, a typical day began at 7 a.m. and included 25-30 miles of paddling. The group usually stopped at 5 p.m. to set up camp for the night and rest up for the next day.

“Several nights of camping were on the banks of the river in tents or hammocks,” he says. “We also arranged several nights with property owners along the river to stay at their place and they fed us. We had two promotional events where friends met us along the way, such as Star City Brewing in Miamisburg, which was a halfway social, and Adventure on the Great Miami in Tipp City, so we were able to get a good meal and other supplies. The nights where we did not have an event, we ate dehydrated meals that were supplied by True Heights, which is a local outfitter in the area.”

The three adventurers are not part of an organized club, but they did receive sponsorship from some local businesses and an aggressive Facebook campaign.

“We’re just three guys with crazy adventure ideas,” Ingle says. “Jeremy has been kayaking since 2005, and I started as part of these trips in 2013. John does not own a boat, and the first time he ever kayaked was in 2014, on the first day of our Little Miami River trip, where we did 88 miles in five days.”

He pointed out that aside from the adventure aspect, the trip was memorable in other ways:

“Meeting up with old friends along with meeting new friends along the way,” he says. “We had several guest paddlers…The overwhelming support from family and friends and our wonderful Facebook followers. For the most part, we were on our own. We did have waypoints assigned at each check, in case of emergency, that would make it easy for [emergency responders] or family to meet us.”

Ingle admits that the group had mixed feelings after completing such a momentous task.

He recalls “a lot of different emotions.”

“We had developed a stride and kind of wanted to keep going, but it was great to see family, get a shower, and sleep in a nice bed… It only made us want to do more adventures!”

Ingle, Cox, and Donnelly hope the buzz they generated will increase people’s awareness of the natural resources the Miami Valley has to offer.

“We love the river and want to get the word out that this is such a great amenity in our backyards,” Ingle says. “More people need to get out and live. We encourage folks to go on Miami Conservancy District’s web page, pull off the free maps, and get out to the river! They are full of good information, showing the dams and portage locations. Our presentation is to simply talk about our trip, encourage folks to get out and enjoy the rivers, and educate folks on how to plan and prepare for either a simple day trip or an extended overnight trip.”

So what’s next for the trio?

“We still need to finish the final two creeks in the Dayton area this year, Wolf Creek, and Twin Creek. We are also in the works for planning some bigger adventures in the future. Stay tuned!”

River Adventures will be presented Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Habitat Environmental Center, 3036 Bellflower St. in Kettering. The talk starts at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $3 and $5. For more information, please call 937.296.2477, contact, or visit For more information about the group and to view photos of the trip, please visit Facebook and search ‘The great Great Miami River Expedition.’

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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