In October, 2000 while visiting our son Paul in northwestern Pennsylvania, we talked about paddling Conneaut Creek which meanders through the western part of Erie County and loops into the corner of Ohio before spilling into Lake Erie. At the several bridge crossings nearby, the flow looked okay. We had tried to paddle a portion of this creek in 1997, but the water level was too low. So Paul and I decided to try a 7-mile segment near his rural home outside Albion. We put-in at a new bridge on Blood Road (an ominous sign!) and paddled confidently toward the first bend.
The creek meandered through farm and woodland with steep banks dropping ten to fifteen feet down to water level. Some of the maple and cottonwood trees were changing color. Soon we encountered some fallen trees. A few we could pass without getting out of our kayaks, but the log jams got progressively worse. The downed trees would collect debris and back-up the water, forming deep pools. Usually the banks were too steep to portage around the obstructions, so we would have to climb gingerly over the logs and floating debris while dragging our kayaks. At one huge log jam we couldn't see any way through, so we had to backtrack upstream to where we could climb the slippery bank and drag our kayaks along the edge of a cornfield for a quarter mile.
Finally we reached the crossing of Highway 6N, a steel-truss bridge 25 feet above the stream. The next road crossing was several miles of unknown challenges further on, so we decided to quit. One side was impossibly slippery with deep mud, so we had to drag our kayaks up a steep, brushy gully to the road.
The message of this story is to gather as much information as you can about the places you plan to paddle. If the local outfitters can't tell you about a river or lake area, it might not be an enjoyable place to kayak.
I-90 to Hwy 215 south on country roads to put-in.