Mad River - Mad River Run

Mad River, Ohio, US


Mad River Run

Usual Difficulty II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 2 fpm
Max Gradient 10 fpm

Mad River Play Area

Mad River Play Area
Photo taken 03/05/15

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Mad River near Dayton OH
usgs-03270000 700 - 3000 cfs II(III) 00h58m 2130 cfs (running)

River Description

Mad River Run is a 4.0 mile stretch from Harshman Road to the confluence with the Great Miami River. Shuttles can be arranged from Whitewater Warehouse, immediately North of the river at Keowee Street. The river is heavily paddled throughout the summer months.

Access this stretch from Eastwood MetroPark (1385 Harshman Rd.). Best access for the full run is just inside the park on the right (near Harshman Road) where there is a changing area. However, most boaters will focus on park-and-play, driving 3/4 mile into Eastwood MetroPark to use the large parking lot (with restrooms) near the main whitewater feature. Access from river-right is also available with limited parking (1401 Harshman Rd.) from the lakeside of Eastwood MetroPark. Again, drive 3/4 mile inside the park to the parking area.

The drop is one element of the Mad River Run project, funded largely by a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Dayton. This was created just below what used to be known as “Bernie’s Hole”, which was formed by the 84” water main pipe that supplies a majority of the water for the city, which is now protected underwater by raising the water level (by the rock damming for the new feature which was created). When funding is acquired, three more drops will be constructed just downstream (no construction is expected in the near future).

There is a low water and higher water feature. The river-left feature is a friendly play wave and designed for surfing in ideal conditions between 300cfs -700cfs. Once the water reaches above 900cfs both eddies feeds strongly back into the river left drop. The river-right feature is designed for higher water and becomes playable around 1200cfs. Information is still being gathered about ideal flow rates. The right side is a tight play feature and seems to have strong eddies on both sides.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-08-07 12:43:21


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.5Gravel BarIPutin
0.9Mad River Run Drop #1IIWaterfall Playspot Photo
1.2Railroad RapidN/A
1.6Outside Curve RapidII
3.8Mad River confluence w/ Great Miami River N/A
3.9RiverScape MetroPark Take Out N/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Gravel Bar (Class I, Mile 0.5)

Start from the center and work toward the river left side. A gravel bar/island which previously defined this rapid was mined out, and is now reforming back. Wood/strainers often catch on the banks on both sides.

Mad River Run Drop #1 (Class II, Mile 0.9)

Enter on the Mad

Enter on the Mad
Photo taken 03/05/15

A river-wide feature was constructed here late summer of 2013. River-left is a low water feature that creates a play wave from 300-2000 cfs. At higher water, a feature on river-right creates a tight hole good for loops, etc. There is a portage on the river right side.

Railroad Rapid (Class N/A, Mile 1.2)

Start from between the two right-most bridge abutments to ride small waves, working eddies and pourovers by the concrete revetment under the bikeway.

Outside Curve Rapid (Class II, Mile 1.6)

Head from center to river-right to ride the waves under the tree branches, then sweep into the eddy on the right.

RiverScape MetroPark Take Out (Class N/A, Mile 3.9)

Take-out at river-left, walk up the levee through RiverScape MetroPark to parking spots on Monument Ave in downtown Dayton.

Coming soon play features just below this take out will be two drops put in on the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton thanks to donations made by the community through the Downtown Dayton Partnership. For more information on RiverScape MetroPark visit

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
March 7 2018 (319 days ago)
ErikPaddles (155257)
Significant river-wide strainers at the railroad bridge pilings about a quarter of a mile
downstream of the whitewater feature (Mad River Run). These Strainers completely block the river.
You should be able to portage on River Left just upstream of the bridge pilings.
November 2 2017 (443 days ago)
SporkFingers (158845)
Checked out the wave on 11/2/17 at 1100cfs. There were no real play opportunities. The river left
wave is totally washed out and the river right feature is blocked off. Not much in terms of play
February 8 2017 (710 days ago)
SporkFingers (158845)
Went on 1/24/17. The river was running ~900cfs. The river right feature was blocked by large rocks
with no water flowing through. This looks like a permanent closure. On the far river right, the
river has eroded a channel around both features. The river right feature was barely surfable. I was
flushed very easily. Just downstream and left of center there is a surfable hole with eddy service
on the left. It looks a bit shallow to do anything other than spins.
April 27 2016 (997 days ago)
gkarjala (157749)
Scouted last weekend, (4/24/16) but went to Buck Creek due too shuttle issues. Didn't look like
play-boat nirvana @ 650 cfs but i ran it late last year @ 800 cfs+ and it was fun, though I'm not a
play-boater. Middle slot was closed, maybe permanent, idk. Whitewater Warehouse in Dayton good
resource for this run, they have a weekly shuttle thing plus other events, and are a GREAT
Outfitter locally, good source for paddle kharma!!! Planning on going soon, tmmrrw even (4/29/16),
i'll report if so. Construction at put-in, maybe problem weekdays, i'll report. Looks improved over
last year. I'm if I can be of any assist.
March 22 2014 (1764 days ago)
jdblack2 (154506)
On 3/21/2014 there was a strainer in the wave train below the main slot. See photo.
September 26 2013 (1941 days ago)
Stephen_Stone (155168)
The whitewater features are complete went down today 9/26/2013 there are two slots to run today the
river was at 383 cfs and was not flowing through the second slot
September 25 2013 (1942 days ago)
Stephen_Stone (155168)
FYI there is now a whitewater man made feature with a few slots to run river wide I went down to
check the progress and they are trying to have it completed 10/4-5/2013 for the Midwest outdoor
experience festival this is supposed to be like the features that have been delayed until next year
on the Great Miami River check out this video of the progress as of 9/19/2013
January 23 2006 (4744 days ago)
logan bockrathDetails
just commenting on the above info
-don't park on the water departments road, you will be towed, they just let bernie run shuttle on
that because he used to work there, park in eastwood lake park
-the hole isn't as good as it used to be, but generally 1000 and above is good, close to 3000 it is
a workout to get back in the eddy
-it never really turns into a wave, I've been out there at around 8000-9000 and it was still a
wave-hole and easy to stay on but you only had one shot
May 4 2005 (5008 days ago)
Ron MetzgerDetails
from the OAC list:

"1,400-1,200 lower is just for goofing off. I have seen it at 2,000 and it was very sticky. I
have seen it at 3,000 and it became a front surfing wave that is easy to get pushed off of.