Cuyahoga, Ohio, US
|Usual Difficulty||II(III) (varies with level)|
|Cuyahoga River at Old Portage OH|
|usgs-04206000||500 - 4000 cfs||II-III+||00h41m||2450 cfs (running)|
|High flows; big and pushy, not recommended for novice whitewater boaters, but great fun for aggressive experienced paddlers. Gauge (404 sq.mi.drainage) is about 15 miles downstream, and a dam intervenes. Flows in this reach may therefore differ slightly from gauge.|
Update on Proposed Whitewater Park!
The City of Kent is moving forward with the next phase of their river restoration project on the Cuyahoga River. As a follow-up to the initial presentation by Recreation Engineering and Planning and the positive feedback from paddlers and the general public; Kent has contracted REP to provide some conceptual designs in 2008. A series of meetings with the various stakeholders were held and the feedback was positive as outlined in the various articles published in the local newspapers. Everyone reading this should consider themselves a stakeholder since this park will benefit all of us whether its used to work on basic skills or as a potential park and play spot close to home. Ohio boaters always get laughed at with our registration decals and numbers on our boats, but there may be some payback. The whitewater park in Kent is looking to get funding from the ODNR and guess where it may come from -- boater registration fees! Grant may fund whitewater park. We are looking to add boater access points near the Riverbend Development on property owned by the City and just upstream of Standing Rock cemetery. This access point would allow canoes and rafts an alternative put-in to the current seal launch option at Brady's Leap. In addition we are considering another access point near the location of the "new" Crain Ave bridge scheduled for construction in 2009.
It helps that many of the agency representatives are "paddlers" and understand what is being proposed and the potential opportunities. Stay tuned for more updates and check out www.kent360.com for the latest news.
Due to the short length of the run and easy access from the trail along river right, any of the parking lots in the downtown area can be used. The best parking is available on the Main Street bridge over the river and a paved trail can be accessed from the stairs on the bridge. After hiking upstream to the plaque for Brady’s Leap, a foot trail leads you to the seal launch.
Seal Launch at Putin
The take out is located below Stow Street at the wooden observation deck on river right. Parking is available in the lot for Tannery Mill Park.
The short length of this run allows paddlers to hike the trail on river right between Stow Street and Brady’s Leap thereby eliminating the need for shuttle arrangements.
As part of the overall improvements to the life of the Cuyahoga River and in response to Ohio EPA’s issuance of TMDLs for this section of the river, the 1836 Kent dam has been by-passed to rectify water quality problems in the 1 mile long dam pool. The City has a deep rooted historical contingent (Kent Historical Society) and a dedicated environmental contingent (Kent Environmental Council) that worked together with the Kent Dam Advisory Committee to reach the final project design. The strong community tie to this dam resulted in the final design plans for maintaining the cascading effect of the horseshoe dam while allowing this river section to be free flowing once again.
Thanks to the open minds of key City employees, the contractors involved in the project, and the requirements of the EPA; paddlers now have a new section of whitewater in downtown Kent. This short Class II run is located between Brady’s Leap and Stow Street bridge and provides paddlers with a park & play option when water levels are up.
A seal launch at Brady’s Leap is the best putin location and the gorge is deep at this point. The original Kent Falls were reported to have been destroyed during the widening of the gorge for canal traffic in the 1800’s, but remnants in the way of a small ledge are present immediately below Brady’s Leap on river right. This ledge forms the first rapid of the run and a narrow slot (pin spot) is exposed on river right at lower flow rates.
At flow rates above 2000 cfs the ledge on river right forms a nice surfing wave, but it is shallow in spots. At these flow levels, the downstream edge of the slot creates a curler wave as shown below. Left of the curler wave is the main channel which is deep.
The next several hundred yards include 3 wing dams (upper, middle and lower) and several rock clusters that were installed as the contractor removed the construction access road in October 2004. These features were placed directly on the bedrock streambed and were not affixed in place. Some movement has occurred from the Winter 2004 floods, but the features offer a good place to practice basics. The upper features currently offer the best options and observations to date indicate that these features are better at flows below 1000 cfs and best at flows around 700 cfs.
The lower wing dam was designed to allow paddlers an eddy on river right to exit before the dam bypass (canal channel). The left arch of the Main Street bridge leads directly into the canal channel. The right side of this canal channel has been cleared of construction debris during past cleanup activities and should hold most of the flow. The left side of the canal channel has rock sporadically placed and will hold sufficient water at flow rates above 1000 cfs. A small ledge exists at the end of the canal channel on river left and forms one of the better surfing waves (the “D Wave”). Another smaller wave forms on the right at flows above 1100 cfs. As shown below, both waves are serviced by a large eddy on river left. It seems that these 2 features are good between 1000 and 1300 cfs, and best at 1150 cfs.
The island below the dam divides the main channel on the right from the old canal on the left. The upstream side of the island now collects a lot of wood. The left channel (old canal) will hold water at higher flow rates but contains strainers and is constricted. Stay right of the island below the dam bypass and don’t get pushed into the island.
It was determined that the large rock immediately below the dam bypass is a large piece of slag. Since there are no historic steel mills in the area, it is theorized to have come from one of the historic train wrecks in Kent. Therefore this rapid has been named “Train Wreck” since the slag boulder sits in the main flow and will upset a few paddlers. When the water is at the top of this slag or pouring over it, a deep hole is created.
After Train Wreck and below the stairs on river right, the smooth bedrock streambed creates several nice waves at flows above 1200 cfs. The last rapid is formed by a small ledge and at flows above 2000 cfs it creates river wide v-shaped feature. This is the best feature in the lower section when the river is high and these waves reached 4 feet during the May 2004 floods.
Since a fair amount of flow is now going left of the island, this spot needs more flow than before the dam bypass project was initiated.
Under the Route 59 bridge, the river divides around another small island. The rocks at the entrance to the right channel will catch some wood, so scout before you paddle. Once you commit to the right channel the large log jam at the front of the island will prevent you from going into the left channel. Remnants of an old mill wall constrict flow and create a nice spot to practice Z turns and ferries. The former hole below Stow Street bridge has been filled in with gravel. The takeout is at the wooden observation deck on river right. So hike back up and run it again!
Due to high visibility and lack of designated changing areas, discretion is required. A wide variety of food and drink is located along Franklin Ave. (river left) and within walking distance. The City of Kent is making an effort to promote this new recreational opportunity and your assistance is appreciated. Contact the City Manager and let him know how additional features would be used by the paddlers, and a benefit to the community and local economy.