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7 Tips: Canoeing & Kayaking in Ohio

June 16, 2022

7 Tips: Canoeing & Kayaking in Ohio

With the summer upon us, you’re probably feeling pretty excited to make the most of it, right? From cookouts to staycations, Central Ohioans have a lot on their seasonal bucket lists. So, if canoeing or kayaking in Ohio is on yours, we have some tips for you. Here are seven things to consider for your next Ohio canoeing or kayaking excursion.

7 Things to Consider When Canoeing or Kayaking in Ohio


Since thunderstorms can present a risk to those on the water, it’s always wise to consult the hourly forecast before you head out. Anyone who has spent an extended period of time in this state knows that Ohio has some of the most unpredictable weather in the country. That means you’ll want to pay attention to the experts, while also being aware that nature seems just to do what it wants at times.

A bunch of people kayaking on open water.


Canoe or kayak — which is more your speed? For those who may be unfamiliar with the difference, a kayak is typically shorter and commanded by an individual. A canoe, on the other hand, is generally a significantly longer, multi-person vessel. The true size depends on how many riders it’s made to accommodate.

If you’re on a river, kayaking in Ohio can be especially fun because the smaller profile of a kayak allows you to weave into smaller channels and other areas of limited access. That said, it’s also a blast canoeing in Ohio, especially  if you have a group of people and want to work in tandem. Either way, you’re in for a pretty great workout!


Shuttling is a more involved process if you’re canoeing or kayaking on a river. That’s because if you start at one end of a river and ride down it, you’ll obviously need a way back. Businesses for river canoeing and kayaking in Ohio typically provide shuttling services. To that end, equipment rentals include pickups and drop offs. If you’re not going to be renting through one of these businesses, however, you’ll need to make your own arrangements. Should you have access to multiple vehicles (and drivers), one way to handle this is to park a vehicle at your trip’s finish point and then shuttle back up to the start in the other vehicle.

A man launching his kayak into an Ohio river area.

Since many of the opportunities for kayaking in Ohio are on rivers, it’s definitely worth considering your transportation situation before you find yourself stranded after a long ride!

Kayaking on Buckeye Lake or another body of water that is not a river means you probably won’t have to worry about the shuttling issue. Rental companies like LakeBound Outfitters and Buckeye Lake Kayaking (in the case of Buckeye Lake) can usually be found on popular bodies of water like this for anyone looking to make things easy. That said, if you don’t rent, you will need to get your canoe or kayak to the drop off point. Plenty of outdoor recreation companies make car carriers for this purpose.

Life Vests

You don’t necessarily have to wear a life vest while canoeing or kayaking in Ohio, but state kayaking law dictates that you must have one vest for every person on board while on the water. Hopefully, you never need to use them, but on the off chance that you ever do, you’ll be glad you have them.


The sort of body of water you’re canoeing or kayaking on (lake or river) may have an effect on the other activities you need to respect while doing so. Should you expect boat traffic? Fishing? Swimmers? Similarly, is there a dam area or other off-limit section/safety concern? Always make sure you’re in a safe, designated kayak or canoe area and that you’re aware of what is going on around you!

A man pulling a kayak to a body of water in Ohio.

Protection Against the Elements

Sunscreen, hydration, and waterproof bags! These are three biggies for most anyone kayaking or canoeing in Ohio. You may scoff at that first one, but remember: being on the water means you’re likely to get more sun exposure than you feel like you’re getting. This is also why water bottles and/or other hydrating liquids are crucial. Last but not least, you’ll probably want at least one waterproof bag for everyone’s electronic devices, wallets, etc. Even if the lake or river water doesn’t feel like a threat, it’s no fun to get caught in a rainstorm without a safe place to stow an iPhone.

Ohio Kayak Registration

Many folks who consider buying a kayak don’t realize that they actually need to consider Ohio kayak registration. The same goes for canoes. Since getting registered is relatively cheap and simple, it’s definitely wise to just take care of it immediately. Every three years, you’ll need to spend thirty seconds and about $25 to re-register. 

Canoeing or Kayaking in Fairfield County, Ohio

Here in Fairfield County, we have Greenfield Lake, Buckeye Lake, Geneva Hills, and Rush Creek Lake open for kayaking and canoeing. If you’re looking for rentals, Buckeye Lake or Geneva Hills will be your best bet. So, choose from a variety of on-the-water outfitters and options, follow the trip tips above, and soak up all that summer sunshine!

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