The Kokosing River is one of Ohio's most beautiful waterways in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. Running from Norther Knox County to Coshocton County, mentally going back into time is not an obstacle on this trip. The sheer but and serene sights are not only relaxing, but are uncrowded. There is very little build up on the 29 miles of this river, if any on the route. Having plenty of areas to stop and relax, take in the sights, as well as the many unique sandstone bluffs make this pristine area a recreational kayakers mecca! I have ran this trip several times and every time I find myself planning my next Kokosing excursion.
The upper Kokosing (Riverside Park) can be a shallow water challenge when there hasn't been much rain. Parking here is in a large open area and carrying your kayaks to the water is a short distance of about 50-100 feet. There is a small trail leading down to the river. The answer to low water levels is to put in at a point that is lower in the route at Memorial Park . Having started this trip at the Mt. Vernon Memorial Park, where the Kokosing Gap Bike Trail begins, the water is relatively shallow, but not to the point of dragging bottom. Parking is plenty and is a short distance to carry your boat to the water, about 150 feet.
The river meanders through the southeastern portion of the City of Mt. Vernon, however, due to the vegetation, it is difficult to even recognize that you are still in civilization. This remains the typical for the entire river trail. Fish are plenty and wildlife is keen on sticking close; heron, otter, deer and many species of birds, including the American Bald Eagle are regular fare. Seeing a Bald Eagle in it's natural habitat is a remarkable experience and quite moving!
As you move southeast on the trail you will begin to enter a region of many rock bluffs that many times stream water down their faces and into the river through small, but spectacular, waterfalls. Approaching the Factory Rapids in Howard will make the recreational kayakers heart race in a good way! When the river is above 4 feet expect this to be Class III rapids. Below 4 feet and its Class I-Class II. It is easily navigable on River LEFT, as there is a small, sort-of canal, that has been washed out from heavy flows. This makes the passage easier for those that don't want to pass through the rapids. If you do decide to run the rapids, there is a large boulder that has earned the name "Munchie Rock," for a good reason.... A paddling cohort found herself delicately perched on munchie for several long minutes while trying to do the "scootch" off the rock. This area is spectacular at low water and at high water. You will find many locals that have come here to swim and while away the summer house beating the heat. This area is know for many underwater caves that have claimed several lives in recent years, however. So, attention to safety is a must, as it always should be!
Near Millwood, Ohio, The Kokosing River Campground is a place to camp along the route... Although I've never stayed her. Electing to move further down the river, approximately 19 miles from our put-in point, there is a small and very secluded campground named "The Caves Campground." This small family oriented campground is dedicated mostly to seasonal campers, but does have 2-4 very nice areas for primitive camping that are directly off the river. The take-out point is a little steep, a climb of about 2 feet up a grassy embankment isn't too difficult for most. This campground is located about 400 yards below Factory Rapids. We pulled out here and set camp for the evening. Sadly this was the end of our trip on the Kokosing. But, if you decided to continue the remainder of the trail is wonderful.
Running this entire 29 mile river trail is not difficult if you plan your stops well. There are many many places to stop along the way to stretch your legs and swim, as well as make your own snack stops.
The end, at the confluence of the Kokosing and Mohican, is on river LEFT and is an easy task-out of gravel / bank run. A short carry to the parking lot of 50 it relatively flat.
Wilderness System Pungo 120, Hurricane Santee Sport 126, Dagger Zydeco 11, Wilderness Systems Aspire 105.