Riding Miami Valley’s scenic riverways
By Stacey Ritz
Photo: Lindsay and Olivia Miller of Hamilton float down the Little Miami River on a sunny afternoon; Photo Credit: Jenny Ritz/Little Miami Canoe Rental
Perhaps you’d like to kick your feet up and sit back in an inflatable tube to float down the river at your leisure. Or maybe you’re looking to exercise your muscles while experiencing a local National Scenic River. Regardless of your bliss, you can enjoy a canoe, kayak, raft or tube ride down a local river. Soak in the sun and dip your toes into the cool waters. Find fossils or take a fall trip as you watch the changing colors of the leaves drift peacefully into the waters that surround you. Whatever your pleasure, there are local outfitters to accommodate your river dreams.
Little Miami Canoe Rental offers several locations to hop on the river for a trip downstream. On the same river a bit to the north, RiversEdge Outfitters offers three popular trips and seven different models of kayaks. Owner Rhett Rohrer shared, “We offer basic instruction if needed prior to the trip. The Little Miami is a great stream for novices, as it has a gentle current.” Kelly Fisher, employee of Little Miami Canoe Rental added, “At Little Miami we offer tubes, canoes (fiber glass and aluminum style), kayaks (single and double, sit-on-top and sit-in) and rafts when the water is right. You can’t beat the sections of the river we float. We have trips starting at 2 miles up through 18 miles. We also offer camping at our two locations, right next to the river. As a family owned business, our goal is to help everyone have a safe, fun and enjoyable trip! We are open 7 days a week, weather and river conditions permitting.”
Always be sure to call the specific location you plan to visit to verify availability and river conditions prior to your trip. River conditions can change from day to day.
Many canoe rentals and river outfitters allow you to bring your dog(s) along with you on your canoe trip (Note: dogs may not ride in rafts or tubes); be sure to check with the river outfitter of your choice prior to arriving for your trip so that you are aware of guidelines and rules regarding bringing your dog.
“The greatest thing about the river – with any mode of transportation you decide to use – [is] you can go alone or you can bring a work group or large group of friends,” shared Bob Ramona of Xenia. “You can do the same trip dozens of times and it seems different each time depending on who you’re with, what time of year you go and what you choose to travel down the river in – raft, kayak, canoe or tube. Usually the spring brings high waters, but in the fall you can really take in the changing colors of the leaves. But I think the best time to go on the river is when the sun is shining and you’re ready to spend the day outdoors. There’s no better way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life than to hop on the river.”
West Milton is proud of their local canoe livery, Barefoot Canoe Rental, which offers trips down the Stillwater River. The following outfitters offer various length trips along differing sections of the National Scenic Little Miami River: Little Miami Canoe Rental (Morrow and Oregonia), Bellbrook Canoe Rental (Bellbrook), RiversEdge Outfitters (Waynesville), Morgan’s Canoe Livery (Ft. Ancient) and Loveland Canoe Rental (Loveland). The Little Miami River is one of only 19 rivers in the country to be designated a Federal Scenic River. Meanwhile, Ride the River at MetroParks Riverscape (Dayton) offers both bike and kayak rentals Saturdays and Sundays at the Great Miami River. Mad River Paddlesports (Springfield) offers trips ranging in length from 2 to 20 miles on a spring fed stream.
Whitewater Warehouse (Dayton) is a paddlesports specialty store located on the Mad River carrying a full range of boats, paddleboards and accessories for Whitewater kayaking, recreational kayaking, sea kayaking, kayak fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. Whitewater Warehouse also offers instruction, educational programs and events and rentals as they work with everyone from beginners to experts.
Many canoe outfitters are located next to a paved bike trail as well, allowing you to canoe or kayak in the morning and finish your day with an easy stroll beside the river or perhaps a bike ride.
“Some important things to remember when planning your next river outing: always wear your life-vest, don’t forget your paddles, bring along a picnic lunch or some snacks for your trip, bring a change of clothes for after your trip – you will most likely get wet – and wear old shoes for wading in the river.” Explained Little Miami Canoe Rental’s Rob Fisher. You may also want to consider bringing along a waterproof camera, waterproof cell phone (in case of emergency), sunscreen, bug spray and a beach towel. It’s best to leave your vehicle keys and valuables behind, so as not to risk losing them on the river.
Regardless of which local river or canoe rental you choose to visit, spending a day on the river will nourish your soul and remind you to take time and relax as you enjoy the beauty and peace that surrounds you.
*Disclaimer: The writer’s parents own/operate Little Miami Canoe Rental.
For more information or to plan your next river outing, visit: littlemiamicanoe.com; riversedgeoutfitters.com; morganscanoe.com; lovelandcanoe.com; barefootcanoe.com; bellbrookcanoerental.com; metroparks.org/parks/riverscape/rideriverrentals.aspx; kayakdayton.com; madriverpaddlesports.net.
Reach DCP freelance writer Stacey Ritz at StaceyRitz@DaytonCityPaper.com.