Rocky Fork Creek, Ohio, US
|Usual Difficulty||II (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||10 fpm|
|Max Gradient||10 fpm|
|Rocky Fork near Barretts Mills OH|
|usgs-03232500||250 - 1000 cfs||II||01h10m||30 cfs (too low)|
This lovely class I-II stream is a gem of central Ohio. The stream is mostly flat in the upper
stretches, but with swift current. Be on the lookout for strainers. I am not very familiar with
this upper stretch, as many boaters put on below at Barret's Mill Road or at Browning
If paddling the upper stretches, there are two old mill dams that must be portaged. The first is just downstream of the Highway 753 bridge and the second is just downstream of Barretts Mill Road. Check them out first on the map and from the road!
A good put in is on river left, just below the bridge on Browning Road. The landowner (Highlands Nature Sanctuary) has been very kind and co-operative with paddlers, allowing them to park on his property on the downstream side of the bridge. It is critical that paddlers be considerate! Do not park on any cultivated land, don't block the driveway or any cars and do not litter. Be as low key as possible. Such kindly land owners are our best friends! Please leave as few vehicles here as possible as this area is frequently used for hikes for patrons of the sanctuary. Permission can usually be gained to park here at the office near the old 7 caves off cave road. Be aware that it's a privilege extended to us to use this site and not a right.
From Browning road, the stream continues to be fast moving with small ripples. Many places exist for the newer paddler to practice eddy turns and ferries, but again, be on the lookout for strainers. Shortly after the put in there is a small ledge which can provide beginners with surfing practice. After this ledge the gradient begins to pick up slightly and the scenery changes from low banks and pasture land to higher banks and eventually limestone cliffs. In the region of the 7 caves the cliffs are spectacular, rising sharply a hundred feet or more over the river. Most folks won't believe they are still in Ohio. Bring a camera.
There are a couple of minor rapids leading into and out of this section where the beginner paddler can practice surfing and other techniques, but the water through the most beautiful section is flat, allowing for maximum appreciation of the beauty.
After the 7 caves area, the cliff receed and the stream starts to return to pastoral scenery. Most new paddlers will take out on river right below the Rt 50 bridge. Again, be aware you are crossing private land! More experienced paddlers will continue on to the Confluence with Paint Creek a few hundred yards below, attempt the class II-III Paint Creek chutes and take out at the old primitive roadside rest area on Rt. 50. The rest area is now private property but permission has been attained to park on the creek side of the loop, do not park on the inside of the loop. For details about Paint Creek, see Paint Creek Information
Other Information Sources:
Rocky Fork State Park
Highlands Nature Conservancy
Seven Caves Hikers are allowed in the area but not within the caves. This is to allow restoration and prevent the spread of white nose disease in bats.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|-0.1||McCoppin Mill Dam||N/A|
|0.0||McCoppin Mill Road||N/A|
|1.4||Hwy.753 bridge & mill dam||N/A|
|4.6||Barrett Mill Road bridge & mill dam||N/A|
|9.0||Highway 50 Bridge||N/A|
|9.2||Paint Creek confluence||N/A|
|9.5||Paint Creek Chutes||II+|
|10.2||Old Rest Area take out||N/A|
The old mill and dam is just upstream of the put in.
There appears to be a large turnout on river left, where boaters can park and access the river. The land may be private, though public land surrounding the reservoir extends very close to here.
As you pass under the bridge for Hwy 753, stay close to shore and prepare to portage a dam.
Be prepared to portage a dam just beyond Barrett Mill Road. This is also a common put in spot. Park on river left and launch below the dam.
Alternate acccess. Check with the Highlands Conservancy about parking here. Leave plenty of space for hiking groups to park.
Boaters can take out on river right under the bridge or just downstream. Carry up to parking next to the highway.
Several rapids start just downstream of the the Rapid Forge Road bridge..
The old rest area is now private property but the land owners continue to allow public access from the river. Be considerate and ask permission.