OHIO VALLEY — Kayaking is an outdoor activity that has taken off in popularity in recent years, and this year, kayaks are flying off retailers’ shelves as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many into the great outdoors to social distance.
In Ohio Valley Publishing’s readership area (and nearby counties), there are ample locations for kayakers to “paddle out” no matter the skill level.
In Mason County, Krodel Park in Point Pleasant offers easy access to its lake and offers kayak and pedal boat rentals at its Yak Shak. The Yak Shak is open Wednesdays-Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Pedal boat rentals costs $20 per hour, a single kayak costs $10 per hour and the tandem kayak costs $15 per hour.
Though there is a cost for rentals, there is no charge for those who wish to bring their own kayaks to the lake to explore the shoreline.
Almost directly across from the entrance to Krodel Park, is the Point Pleasant Boat Launch, allowing kayakers easy access to the Ohio River. This public launch is used primarily for pleasure boats and can be busy at times.
Kayaking is also permitted at the McClintic Wildlife Management Area and is popular with those also looking to catch a few fish while paddling out. The McClintic ponds are located on McClintic Wildlife Management Area in Mason County, six miles north of Point Pleasant and eight miles south of Mason. It is accessible from Point Pleasant and Mason by State Route 62.
In Gallia County, Racoon Creek is the main destination for those wanting to get out and paddle a kayak, with various locations to drop in throughout Gallia County. Raccoon Creek Paddles and Oars, located at the former canoe livery on Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande, offers access to Racoon Creek via private bookings for groups and can be reached at 740-645-9762.
Tycoon Lake east of Rio Grande provides a large area for paddlers not wanting to go downstream and provides easy access in and out of the water. However, at this time, the water level has been lowered for dam construction and work on one of the boat launches. This week, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources stated though the work is ongoing, boating and kayaking is still permitted, and a possibility, at the lake. The project at Tycoon Lake should be completed by this fall.
Symmes Creek also provides excellent views and paddling while the water is high, as do other small creeks in Gallia. Symmes Creek is about 75 miles long and runs through the western portion of Gallia, giving prime views of countryside farms and some of Wayne National Forest.
Swan Creek, which runs near Swan Creek Road in the southern portion of Gallia also provides kayak enthusiasts a chance to get their oars in the water.
Do take note as to if/where you launch to avoid trespassing on private property.
Located at 63300 State Route 124 in Reedsville is Forked Run State Park, featuring hiking, kayaking, swimming and much more for those of all ages. Grab a kayak, a paddle and some friends to spend a day on the 102 acre lake during the summertime. Cool off with a swim in the water, or take a break from the water on one of the parks trails. Looking for a competitive game while you are there, try your hand at disc golf.
Ohio River access can be found at several villages along the southern coast of Ohio (Meigs County), with launches at Middleport, Pomeroy, Syracuse, Racine.
The Middleport Marina also allows for access to not only the Ohio River but the Leading Creek Watershed Trail for those kayakers who would prefer a leisurely “float” away from river traffic.
Other kayaking spots in neighboring and/or nearby counties include (but are not limited to): Lake Jackson State Park, in Oak Hill; Hammertown Lake in Jackson, Ohio; Lake Alma, Wellston; Strouds Run in Athens; Lake Hope in McArthur; Beech Fork State Park in Barboursville; Lake Vesuvius in Lawrence County.
Beth Sergent and Sarah Hawley contributed to this article.