Paint Creek - Paint Creek Reservoir to old Rt. 50 rest area

Paint Creek, Ohio, US


Paint Creek Reservoir to old Rt. 50 rest area

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (varies with level)
Length 7 Miles

Bernie Farley

Bernie Farley
Photo of Above Turtle Rock by Sean Camp @ 4100cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Paint Creek near Bainbridge OH
usgs-03232470 3.05 - 8.00 ft I(II) 00h44m 1.97 ft (too low)
Too low for reasonable whitewater experience. Gauge (570 sq.mi. drainage) is near put-in, so very accurately reflects conditions. Flow is regulated by dam, and will jump up or down upon releases.

River Description

This run has only one rapid of any interest to any but the most novice boaters, but the rapid is rather long and fun and the run is pretty quick. This run is ofen combined with a scenic trip down Rocky Fork, however Rocky Fork does not run as often.

The most common put in for this stretch is right below the dam at Paint Creek State Park. There are two class I ledges right next to the parking area that provide novices the opportunities the chance to practice eddy turns and warm up.

The next mile or so is totally flat. Once Rocky Fork creek enters on the right things start to pick up. The river drops gradually over wide shoals ending just above a bridge (Rapid Forge road). Look for a few play spots against the right shore. At higher levels some nice waves kick up.

Underneath the bridge there is a short pool or, at higher water, slower current. The river narrows slightly, goes over another shoaly area with a nice playspot, a few waves, then goes over a definite ledge drop - class 2. Good eddy on the right, fun or squirly eddy line, depending if you have a squirting mindset, on river left.

After this first "real" drop there is a short slack section (which disappears at higher water) leading to a midstream rock called "Turtle Rock". Water washes over the rock at 2000 cfs and it disappears at levels over 2500. Run either side of Turtle rock, but the right side is somewhat easier. Good eddies exist behind the rock and on river right.

Be sure to try the automatic power ferry across the right hand chute. This is a great place for newer boaters to practice ferrys across a jet of water. There are also a nice couple of playspots here. It is also easy to walk back up to this spot from the bottom of the rapids.

Below Turtle Rock is very fast current leading to the third drop. This is a ledge extending from the right shore 2/3 to 3/4 across the river. This ledge is trashy at low level and forms a very powerful hydraulic at higher levels. It is best avoided by taking the obvious line to the left. After the ledge is a fun wave train, then one can take out on the right and easily return back to Turtle Rock.

Most boaters take out on the roadside rest area (on Rt. 50) about 3/4 mile downsteam from the chutes. This rest area is no longer operated by the state but permission has been attained from the land owner to park on the creek side (north side)  of the loop. Do not park on the inside of the loop.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-03-18 23:49:36


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Put in ledgesIPutin Photo
2.5ChutesIIIPlayspot Photo
3.0River AccessN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Put in ledges (Class I, Mile 0.1)

Small stuff at the put in

Small stuff at the put in
Photo taken 01/09/12

Ther are two class 1 rapids that make good training spots at the put in.

Chutes (Class III, Mile 2.5)

A Skilled Canoeist

A Skilled Canoeist
Photo of James Nutter by Bob Ellstrom taken 04/23/06 @ Unknown

The difficulty ranges from hard class II to big water calss III+ depending on water levels.

River Access (Class N/A, Mile 3.0)

There is a river access point about 1/2 a mile below the Chutes on river right.

Falls (Class III+, Mile 6.0)

This is a small three foor ledge or waterfal it is a riverwide sliding drop with a vertical ledge on river left.  The rapid is straightforward and easy at most water levels.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 17 2013 (2011 days ago)
TWSchroeder (155723)
My family and I used two inflatable kayaks (Sea Eagle 330 and 370) to go from just below Barrett
Mill dam on Rocky Fork to SR 41 on Paint Creek in Bainbridge. The flow on Rocky Fork was at 150 CFS
during our entire run. At that flow I got stuck once in a 3-4 foot section and felt myself scrape
over a rock about 5 other times. Paint Creek was at 390 CFS. Same as Rocky Fork, we got stuck a
couple of times and hit a few rocks. I am sure my inflatable kayak and my 210 lbs has a deeper
draft than most other kayaks. My wife's boat rarely had any trouble. She and my youngest son did
get stuck at the section labeled above as "Chutes (Class III, Mile 2.5)". The flow on the left was
fun with plenty of water but not enough water was flowing over the ledge and they missed the left.
Luckily, they managed to wiggle over the ledge without getting dumped sideways. The ledge listed
above as "Falls (Class III+, Mile 6.0)" was the most fun of the day and worth all the paddling in
the couple of flat miles leading up to it. We used what was referred to as the "sneak line" on the
right and it was clearly the biggest rapid of the day. We intended to use the Church parking as our
take out location but they now have it gated. We instead took out on the South side and parked
along the access road but very near SR 41 since there are a couple of houses at the end of the
road. Once you approach the area one will notice a couple of spots along this section where
fishermen have created trails down to the river. Taking out there would be a bit more trouble at
higher water levels since the water is flowing fairly fast at the SR 41 bridge. Other than the fast
flow near SR 41 the river only offers paddling after the 6 mile ledge for the next 1.5 miles.
April 7 2012 (2477 days ago)
The rapid below the Chutes is definitely not class 4. It is an easy 3 or hard 2.
December 11 2011 (2595 days ago)
Scott PuthoffDetails
Here's and update from the Cincypaddler Board regarding the takeout: Ever since the announcement of
the rest stop closure was announced, with the ensuing concerns about access, Mike Rzesutock and I
have been talking about what actions to take to get a handle on the situation and take any
necessary action to ensure the site remains easily usable. In practice, I did 99% of the talking
and Mike handled 99% of the action. The rest stop property is owned by an attorney, who Mike just
spoke to: He gave us permission to park at the old rest area. He does not own any land inside the
loop; he sold his half several weeks ago.He said as long as we park on the creek (north) side of
the loop we are good. The Ross Cty engineer said that that is a public road so there's no problem
there. However, they are talking about closing the west end of the loop. We owe Mike a big thanks
for his etraordinary effort (and maybe a nice carbon paddle). You can accomplish that by spreading
the word about the situation.
October 10 2011 (2657 days ago)
Bud ChavezDetails
Warning - Take out below chutes now Private! Paddled Paint Creek Saturday, Oct 8, 2011. Took out at
Roadside Rest area, however it is no longer a rest area. The picnic tables and the like have been
removed and private houses were very near completion on the property. Have not confirmed that
access is no longer permitted, but it looks like it will be someone's back yard in the very near
future, if not already. No one ran into any trouble that I know of that day, but I wouldn't take
out there without finding out what the story is. The next public takeout is at the Rt. 42 bridge in
Bainbridge, about 4 miles by road from the old take out. Much longer on the creek due to meanders.
There is one ledge called Paint Creek Falls in that stretch, but almost all flat otherwise. I don't
have current info on the falls, but from what I recall it is pretty much a vertical drop with no
entrance/run out rapids.
May 1 2011 (2819 days ago)
David StengerDetails
5/1/2011 Had a lazy run down rocky fork as preparation for a solo trip down the chutes today and I
got to second the prior post, definitely the biggest water I have ever seen in Ohio. It was running
at 8.5' huge standing / crashing waves, and quite pushy but big fun, definitely not for the
novices. Turtle rock was 3 big waves (8' to 10') and Third drop looked like it had several options
depending on how brave you are, but I ran the traditional line to the to the left to be safe
because I didn't have support.
January 21 2006 (4744 days ago)
Ron MetzgerDetails
About 3 miles (approx) downstream of the chutes is a more significant rapid (class 3/4).
Unfortunately both shorelines are private property and rumor has it that neither landowner is very
paddler friendly so its a run as you see it or road scout the run. Sneak line is on the far right
with a ledge drop on the left and a broken ledges pretty much all the way across the river.