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Ohio River City Paddlers develop 274-mile Recreation Trail; paddling and cycling event begins June 1

The Ohio River connects Cincinnati and Louisville and, because of this connection, two groups of avid outdoor enthusiasts and paddlers have joined forces to create a recreational trail on, and along, the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Recreational Trail is an initiative undertaken by members of Louisville’s River City Paddlesports and Cincinnati’s Paddlefest organizers to support and encourage people to explore the Ohio River from water, or land, and to find recreational adventure locally.


“I’ve paddled the 133 miles from Cincinnati to Louisville more than 15 times, sometimes in my own kayak and other times with 10 people in a voyager canoe, and the beauty and tranquility of the Ohio River never ceases to amaze me,” says David Wicks of Louisville’s River City Paddlesports, and the driving force behind the development of the Ohio River Water Trail.

The Inaugural Ohio River Trail Paddling and Cycling Adventure will begin June 1 in Portsmouth, Ohio and end June 9 in Louisville, KY.

“What we are trying to do is open peoples’ eyes to the beauty and majesty of the Ohio River and to provide the opportunity for them to find adventure in the environment that exists in their own back yards,” said Brewster Rhoads, recreational trail co-convener and founder of Cincinnati’s Paddlefest.

One Voyager Canoe with 10 hearty souls will paddle from Portsmouth to Cincinnati (June 1-5) and three Voyager Canoes with approximately 30 people will complete the trip paddling from Cincinnati to Louisville (June 6-9).

The trip features a June 4 stop at the Thomas More Biology Station in California, Kentucky. It includes the Tour Ohio River Research Lab and overnight accommodations are available at Thomas More.

A team of cyclists led by Cincinnati cycling enthusiast Jene Galvin, will also make the journey, documenting bike routes and land-based points of interest along the way.  River communities have graciously offered to host paddlers and cyclists for dinner and overnight camping.

Ohio River Recreational Trail Adventure Travel Schedule. Click to enlarge.

The Ohio River Recreational Trail will begin in Portsmouth, Ohio upstream of Cincinnati, and end 274 miles away in West Point, Kentucky, just downstream of Louisville.  There are numerous historic towns along the route, as well as two major metropolitan complexes for travelers to enjoy and explore.

The Ohio River Recreational Trail will:

•Promote tourism, safety, respect for private lands, and Leave No Trace (TM) ethics while facilitating both long distance and local paddling, sailing, power boating, fishing, and cycling along the Ohio River.

•Provide increased access to the Ohio River by collaborating with local governments, recreation organizations, and commercial user groups.

•Coordinate with county and municipal travel and tourism entities to ensure the largest possible impact on retail, lodging and food sales while providing a high-quality experience for paddlers, cyclists, anglers, and boaters.

•Work with the state wildlife and natural resources agencies in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio to promote Ohio River fishing, boating, hunting, cycling, bird watching, and nature appreciation.

To support users of the trail, the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) has been developing the Digital Guide to the Ohio.

The GIS-based online mapping system will help paddlers, power boaters, cyclists and even motorists plan multi day adventures in and along the Ohio.

Phase one of the Guide should be available to the public later this month. It will contain information regarding numerous points of interest, river and weather conditions, lodging, restaurants, safety information, and much, much more.

In addition, REI has awarded a grant to support the development of the trail.

“As an avid paddler, outdoorsman and Community Outreach coordinator for REI, I am thrilled that we were able to support the development of this trail,” said Owen Nyswonger of REI, one of the few paddlers that will make the entire 9-day, 274 mile journey.

Ohio River Recreation Trail

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