This scenic Class II run flows out of Houston Woods Lake, through Oxford, OH. The run is generally strainer-avoiding Class II, but does have a couple nice surf spots. The Ledges section is almost 1/4 mile in length and has plenty of diagonal ledges for surfing. While most are catch on the fly, several at the bottom do have eddy service on river right.
There are two broken low-head dams on the run. The first is almost immediately after the put-in and should be portaged. It can be run EXTREME river right, but the slot is small and any mistake could have bad consequences. The second dam was altered by ODNR to allow passage, and is best run on river left. The water is very shallow and the hole at the bottom is more bark than bite. You can miss both low head dams by putting in at putting in 1.2 miles downstream at the Oxford Trenton Road Bridge.
This section of river is generally only runnable after heavy rains or sustained periods of moderate rain. It will usually hold adequate flow for a day or two, depending on the amount of rain. The dam upstream no longer has a releasable gate, thus operates as a spillway (passing flow of river at all times).
The listed gauge is for Sevenmile Creek, which should give an accurate indication of whether Four Mile is running. The low and high end of the guage readings are still be worked out (as of the updating of the page, October 23, 2016). I'm fairly confident on the low end, but the high end may be really raging, so use your judgement when you get to the river. Expect Class III (or higher) at high water due to flood conditions.
Put-in on the downstream side of the bridge
This low-head dam should be portaged. It's not a big drop, however (as with most man-made structures) the boil-line is very uniform. It has been run EXTREME river right, along the right bank where there is a break in the dam. However, if you go over in the wrong spot, or fail to punch through and paddle out, you will be caught in the recirculation!
Be safe and walk it!
Run on river left. It's shallow and the hole at the bottom is easily punched.
You can avoid both dams upstream by putting-in here. All the fun without the danger! There is a little feeder stream that you put-in at near the parking lot which is on the upstream side of the bridge.
Nice surfing hole (near nothing in particular), with decent eddy service, good for spins and side surfing.
The Lanes Mill Road Bridge is the signal that you are about to enter a section of maybe 6-8 diagonal holes over almost a 1/4 mile of river. Some are better for surfing than others. The ones at the bottom have some eddy service. There is parking at the bridge, and the river is roadside through this stretch, so these could be done as a park-and-play.
Take-out on river-left at the bridge.
I have run 4-mile creek several times this spring. A few addendums to the wonderful write-up already posted.
1 - The first low head dam can be run, but do not go to the extreme right. There's about a 20 foot section at the far right edge that is passable, but do not go all the way to the right, go all the way to the left of the 20' opening, and you can push straight through. If you go all the way right, you'll have to turn 90' left to avoid a tree, which can be done, but it's difficult. There's currently a low hanging branch (with thorns, UGH!) immediately in front of the perfect channel to go over, but it can be pushed up & out of the way with your kayak paddle easily. Once through the dam rapids, immediately head left to avoid being hung on the rocks when the water level is down.
2 - The second "broken dam" has the best channel about 1/3 of the way out from the left edge. The lip of the concrete slope is lowest there and will prevent a drop off, and you can sail right through after sliding/grinding down the concrete incline.
3 - Right before the Lane's Mill bridge, there's a 90' bend to the left where the runnoff from the gully that follows lane's mill road enters 4-mile. There is a VERY large & nasty tree pile here with serious undercurrents that could easily hurt someone. Stay to the extreme left and it's easily passable, but right next to the trees, it's quite treacherous/dangerous.
The best part of this run is definitely from lane's mill to darrtown road. The rapids through here from the ledges make it a lot of fun.
All in all if you put in behind Yeager Stadium (easier to put in than the Bonham road bridge by far) and go to Darrtown Road, it's about a 3 hour run. From the Lane's Mill to Darrtown road, it's about 40m or so if you want to cal at that point for a pickup.
If you do want a longer run, start in Hueston Woods on the south edge of the loop, and you can put in there for a leisurely 3 hours to make it a full day trip of about 6 hours total in moderate water depth. There is one spot about 1/2 mile or so in from here with trees across the river that you have to portage around on a rock bank, but other than shallow areas, there's nothing in the way of obstacles til you get to the dams after Bonham road.
Also, there are a LOT of no trespassing signs on the upriver section posted everywhere. Stay in your boat and be respectful of private property. I've never had an encounter with a landowner in this area, so I do not know how they would react.
No gauge is available currently. Usually takes a moderate rain to get running. If you are coming from the Cincinnati area, check the US-27 bridge over Indian Creek in Millville. If that is running, then Four Mile is probably also good to go.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Put-in Parking - You can drop boats on the downstream side access road, but you need to park at the park across the street.
Alternate Put-in Parking - You can park in the large parking lot on the upstream side of the bridge at the park. There's a small feeder stream that allows you access to the river.
Take-out Parking - Parking is limited and is roadside. Be mindful of people's property. Maybe room for 3-4 vehicles total.
Lonely Surf Hole
Surfing the Ledges
Hole at the bottom of Broken Dam
Broken Dam Rapid
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