A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Inaugural Ohio River Recreation Trail Paddling and Cycling Adventure spotlights new tourism effort


Staff report

An inaugural Ohio River Recreational Trail Paddling and Cycling Adventure started off Friday in Portsmouth, Ohio and will end June 9 in Louisville.

The group was in Northern Kentucky Tuesday, staying overnight at the Thomas More Biology Station in California. Yesterday, it made a stop at the Rosemary Clooney House in Augusta and on Wednesday it will be in Gilday Riverside Park in Cincinnati to start its second leg of the adventure.

The combined efforts of Cincinnati’s Paddlefest and Louisville’s River City Paddlesports created the event to support and encourage people to explore the Ohio River from water or land and to find recreational adventure locally.

From Cincinnati, it will start its second leg of the river journey with three Voyager canoes and 30 people, stopping in Rising Sun, Vevay, and Westport before landing at Louisville Community Boat House at Louisville Waterfront Park on Sunday between 2-3 p.m.

Paddling team on first leg of adventure. (Photo provided)

As avid outdoor enthusiasts and paddlers, the groups have joined forces to create a recreational trail on and along the Ohio River, a 274-mile long Ohio River Recreation Trail.

“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.

“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,” added Brewster Rhoads, recreational trail co-convener and founder of Cincinnati’s Paddlefest.

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

One Voyager Canoe with 10 hearty souls are paddling 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).

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.

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, a GIS-based online mapping system that 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, and one of the few paddlers that will make the entire 9-day, 274-mile journey.


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