Upper Section from John Bryan State Park to the Narrows Reserve
This was the worst section of water I have ever paddled on. If you are thinking of paddling it....don't. Go somewhere else.
Family of 6 with a Wenonah Spirit II canoe, and a Necky Manitou tandem Kayak (for sale if anyone in the greater Dayton area is interested). Years of experience in 13 states, BWCA, Quetico, rivers, etc....
The first challenge was finding a place to put in. Despite other reports and ODNR websites, you can not legally put in at John Bryan state park. It took 90 minutes to prove that one. Enough said. So we went down Clifton Road and turned west on Jacoby to put in.
Extremely shallow. I'd say about 12-18 places we had to get out and let the boats just float down. Numerous trees blocking the river where portaging, letting the boat float under by itself, or just pushing over the logs were required. The worst stretch was after passing under rt 35. There was such a huge dam of trees that we had to turn around and take a narrow tributary, because there was no way around. The tributary was no picnic either. We had to hack down branches, and pull the boats over many obstacles to get through. After that tributary there was another fork in the road. The map indicated left....bad choice. So we backtracked, went right, and had to hike the boats for about a mile before we could get back in them.
What made all of the above extremely annoying was the quality of the water. This is just a dirty river...no other words to describe it. We counted 48 tires in the water, a car, and lost count of the appliances. At all those damns, and log crossings I mentioned above...yards of trash. Made wading real fun (sarcastic). This is supposed to be a scenic river route. It is very obvious that no one takes care of it, and quite frankly the state should be embarrassed.
The positive: We saw awesome birds.
I'd say about 15 great blue herons, great views of turkey vultures, turtles, snakes, frogs, tadpoles, minnows, and countless amounts of birds. The rapids, when not too shallow, were fun to float down, and maneuver through. There's a good damn that drops you about a foot. There were a couple of "compounds" that we kept the noise level down, because we were afraid of who would come out...we all laughed about it after we passed.
It was a very memorable experience for our family. We had fun. But at the end of the day it was the worst section of water I have ever paddled on. If you are thinking of paddling it....don't. Go somewhere else. If you chose to ignore, travel light, and bring a chain saw.
From Xenia take 68N to Clifton Road. Travel ~ 4 miles and turn left on Jacoby road. Follow until it ends at the water.