Last rapid before take out, at 800 cfs.
Put in below the Ballville dam on the river left. The far right channel has the most water and runs next to a rock cliff. The rapids are mostly class II at medium flows and could be class III at higher flows.
The rapids continue down to the golf course. After you go under a bridge you pass the old power station on your left, there is one more nice rapid. After this the take out is on the river left.
Thanks to Doug Grosjean, a local paddler for the following information
Put-in: Ballville Dam
Take-out: Rodger W. Young Mem. Park:
Distance: 1.1 Miles
I'm guessing around 1,000 CFS. But if the Sandusky is at 1,000 CFS it's not
very big or very fun. Meanwhile the Maumee is probably high at the same
time that the Sandusky is coming up, so local boates rarely do the Sandusky
at low levels.
I've run it in excess of 10,000 CFS, but a swim would be a very fast flush
while trying to dodge brush. You'd likely have to swim into the flatwater
at the Rodger W. Young Memorial Park before you could exit the river. If
you're good and paddling well, it is a BIG fun run with big waves and really
fast water. You get maybe one shot at surfing each wave, and the run is
over so fast that multiple runs are the way to go at high water.
to Ballville from US-20,
State St. East,
S. Front St. South,
Go under steel railroad span
Take RH fork, Tiffin St.
Go south on Tiffin St. past:
Rodger W. Young Memorial Park,
Water Treatment Plant,
Thornwood Golf Course,
Park near the dam. Follow various trails to the river on river left.
There's a small spit of rock on river left below the dam. Put in either
above or below it, but beware: putting in above forces you into a large
arcing upstream ferry / surf in heavy current to dodge the strainers that
are in place on that spit.
There's a large eddy below the spit on river left as you come over the
Leaving that eddy, and at high levels there are some big waves down this
Eddy out behind the island on your right, and look around. At most levels,
there are good surf waves to the right of the island. You may have to work
a bit to attain them, though.
Drop down, and there's a river-wide diagonal ledge that offers some nice
wave surfing at medium and high levels.
Pass under the bridge, there's a break in the action. Then continuing
downstream, there's a nice eddy on river left at the abandoned hydro plant.
There's an island just below. Take LH channel, run through nice surf waves,
and eddy right next to island in order to surf the standing waves there for
a good time. But if you flush off the surf waves accidentally, you'll
suddenly be running the final rapid...
Just below the standing waves is the final rapid, a big (5'-6' at high
water) crashing wave. Run it anywhere, it's strange no matter where you run
Paddle through the flatwater pool after the final rapid. Watch for dirt
cliffs on river right, shortly after that is the dike surrounding Rodger W.
Young Memorial Park in Fremont on the left. Take out river left, walk over
Land near Ballville Dam has been used as fishing and boating access in the
past. Currently there are signs saying "Fishing Area Closed", but locals
continue to fish and party and litter in the brush there.
Access at Thornwood Golf Course has varied over the years. It used to be
free, then it changed to free if you asked politely, and currently there's
an access fee charged to use the golf course land for river access for
fishing or boating. The riverbanks at the golf course are steep and
eroding, so exiting the river at the golf course isn't easy or reccomended.
Access at Rodger W. Young is free and fun; you can use your kayak to sled
down the dike into the parking lot after boating.
Other Ballville info:
The Ballville Dam was built to supply water to the hydro plant downstream,
via a large steel pipe along the left bank. That plant has been closed
since the 1940's, and in recent years there's been discussions on removing
the dam. Fishermen and environmentalists are in favor of removing the dam,
but the EPA is concerned about pollutants trapped in the sediments behind
the dam so the dam's future status is in limbo. Logic and anecdotal stories
from old-timers suggest there's good whitewater behind the dam. It's about
1.5 miles from the shallows at Tindall Bridge to 30' Ballville Dam, so there
are some drops hidden under that sediment. Maybe someday I'll be able to
write about a brand-new stretch of Northwest Ohio whitewater...
If you have more info and would like to add to this page you can e-mail me and we can update this page.
The Maumee River
is only 30 min. away and has a fun 5 mile run or P+P at Turkyfoot
The Upper Sandusky River at Tiffin
is only 15 min. away and can be fun too.
Ballville Dam was (indeed) removed in 2018. A drone video of the river is available. This link will skip the lower part of the river, starting where more ledgy whitewater is prevalent, and continuing to the site of the dam (where you will see circular pillars still in the river): https://youtu.be/I_WwDw8NSYM?t=225
Per the Fremont Examiner, the Ballville Dam is scheduled to be removed sometime in 2011, and through to 2013.
I'VE RAN THE RIVER AT 14,000CFS, (CRAZY HIGH WATER) WHAT A RIDE. NICE SURFING ALONG THIS STRETCH. SHORT BUT FUN! ~JUSTIN HELD~
I HAVE RUN THE RIVER AT 2200 CFS AND IT IS AWESOME! THE LAST RAPID BEFORE THE TAKE OUT AFTER THE 'HAUNTED HYDRO' OR OLD POWER STATION TURNS INTO A HUGE WAVE TRAIN THAT TOWERS OVER YOU AS YOUR IN ONE OF THE TROUGHS.
9 years ago
The 800 cfs min flow is a shallow level, 1,200 cfs would be better. I don't really know the max level. I have talked to people that say 3,000 cfs is a good high level. Some have run it at 10,000 but say it is in the trees and a swim could be long
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Big Water on the Sandusky (17,000 CFS)
Dan on the Sandusky
learning on the Sandusky
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