The Little Miami doesn't have as many big waves and play features as it's bigger brother, the Great Miami. Most playboaters will hang out around Boathouse Rapid and paddle back up to the put-in for a quick park and play session. However, there's still decent play to be had depending on the river levels.
The other major difference between the Great and Little Miami is the scenery. From a river health perspective the Great Miami is no worse than the Little Miami (the Great Miami may be better...), but the scenery is less than to be desired. The Little Miami river is a National Wild and Scenic River with limited views of developed areas, abundant wildlife, and good fishing.
The put-in is at Kelley Nature Preserve (the same as for the PnP at Boathouse) and the take out is at Jim Tarrell Park in Milford. The rapids don't really have "official" names (with the exception of Boathouse), so they are named based on how I identify them on the river.
If you don't feel like driving to the Great Miami and the Little Miami is around 6 feet, this is an easy and fun alternative for the east-side boater (provided nothing else is running).
The entire Little Miami River below Clifton Gorge is legally runnable. Below the listed take out you can continue to paddle all the way down to the Ohio River. It just tends to have even less whitewater and involves lots of flatwater paddling. (I wouldn't recommend a playboat if you choose to extend your trip thusly.)
Follow the trail and sign down to the river OR for the bold people, take a left on the trail above the river, just before you'd head down. Walk down past the fence and take a gander at the 10-15 foot sliding seal drop!!
The best rapid on the run by far. You can park and play this if you like. At higher water, this can give the novice and rec boater some issues. The rapid is easily broken down into two parts, the upper part (with the old piece of low-head dam) and the lower part.
The upper part has a great eddy line for squirts and enders. At higher water, a hole forms behind the old piece of dam. I know lots of people that punch the hole, but haven't heard of anyone playing in it. People have said that rebar is a concern, but I've checked it out at super low water and haven't seen anything. The hole is probably playable, but always use caution at man made structures. It is pretty broken up though, so I don't think it's a keeper.
The second part of the run is the chute to the right around an island. At the bottom of the drop, there is a small surf wave and hole that can be some fun. The hole is created by people moving rocks around at the bottom of the drop. You can sometimes spin here, but that's about it. There's another eddyline for squirts and enders, too.
Alternate put-in (either at bridge or down the road). Watch as the crazy teenagers jump from the bottom of the Loveland bike trail bridge.
Three small rocky slides/ledges on the river left can make some small waves and surf spots. Small surf hole at the top that has eddy service on river left. The middle part of this rapid is a great place to practice ferrying, peeling out, and catching eddies.
The river right side is generally runnable all year, the left dries up around 5.5 feet. At the bottom of the drops, there is a great deep pool on river left that is good for teaching people to roll in. There's a nice gravel/sand beach there as well. If teaching isn't your thing, you can use the eddy line there for some squirts. Nice deep water for rolling.
Not really great surfing, but some small holes and pourovers offer some entertainment. The best surfing seems to between 5.5 and 6 feet.
The river drops to the right over a diagonal shoal. Not much here, but can have some small surfing at the bottom. At higher water (6.5-ish feet), there are a couple boof rocks on river right as you head over the little slide.
Seen lots of people jump off the rock, even a couple seal dive. There are rocks all around, but in front of this appears to be clear. Jumper/diver beware of rocks and the fact that it is private property.
As you get close to the take out, you'll pass the city of Milford on your left. Just before you get to the city, there is a small shoal you'll drop over to the left. Immediately after this, there is sometimes (around 5.5 to 6 feet) a small, but sticky hole on river left. Beware the rock that forms the hole: it is pretty close to the green water (i.e. don't windowshade). Above 6 feet, there are some nice waves that form just after the small drop to practice wave wheels.
About 100 yards downstream, another small shoal/ledge is present that can form a small green surf wave. It's pretty piddly and in the summer the vegetation kinda makes it go away, but it's good for teaching novices how to surf.
Down past the little green wave, there are some more riffles and eddies to mess around in. Practice eddy hopping on river right or just dodge the small rock garden as you make your way downstream.
This is the take out. Exit on river right about 70 yards down from the bridge up the concrete ramp.
Generally as the river gets higher, the river gets better until it reachs about 7 feet on the gauge. After 7 feet, the river starts to flush out and the features go away. The best level is between 6.0 and 7.0 feet. The river is good for all skill level of boaters and pretty much any type of craft. Expect a little carnage at Boathouse for novice boaters, but there's not much in the way of consequences.
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Jim Tarrel Park
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