Planning Ahead

Plan a Safe Trip

Safety is your responsibility. Be ready for an emergency.

Check water conditions and weather. Check water quality and levels (blue box, left) before you depart. Avoid extreme weather. If the water looks too hazardous to swim, don’t boat on it!

Scout your course when possible. Check out access, exits, and potential hazards from the shore.

Never boat alone and leave a “float plan” with a reliable person. Say where you are going and when you will leave and return. Contact the person once you return safely.

Wear a life jacket at all times. By law, children under 10 must wear life jackets of an appropriate size.

Register your boat. Canoes and kayaks must be registered with the state. Search Ohio Department of Natural Resources Watercraft.

Regulations vary. It is your responsibility to know and follow all regulations for specific parks,  jurisdictions, and conditions.

Load your boat evenly. Keep the weight in the boat centered for stability. Do not overload.

Always maintain three points of contact. For example, while moving around, keep two hands and one foot touching the boat.

Portage (carry your boat) around hazards.

Be prepared to capsize and swim. Hold onto your boat unless your life is endangered. Grab the  upstream side of your capsized boat.

Know your exact location at all times. If you need help, call 911 and report where you are on the river.

Stay hydrated. Pack plenty of drinking water and avoid overexertion. Avoid alcohol while paddling.

Avoid hypothermia. Be prepared for cold air and water by dressing properly. Be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and knowledgeable of its treatment. Bring a change of clothing in a waterproof bag.

Plan a Safe Trip

A hallmark of the Cuyahoga River Water Trail is the diversity of opportunities around every crooked turn. Enjoy nature, exercise, and peaceful appreciation. Differences in the paddling skills needed, seasons of flow, and equipment options contribute to this variety.

The calm, rural waters of the Upper Cuyahoga State Scenic River above Kent are best for beginners. Intermediate paddlers might explore from Kent to Cuyahoga Falls with its frequent access points.