Portage, Ohio, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II (for normal flows)|
|Portage River near Elmore OH|
|usgs-04195820||3000 - 10000 cfs||I-II||00h27m||222 cfs (too low)|
Thanks to Doug Grosjean for the fowlowing information.
Put-in: Trailmarker Park; Woodville, Ohio (41.44847 -83.36784)
Alternate Put-in: Faye's Whippy-Dip; Woodville, Ohio (41.44904 -83.35883)
Take-out: City Park; Elmore, Ohio (41.47662 -83.29578)
Distance: 3.8 - 4.3 miles depending on which put-in.
The Portage River flashes up and down very quickly. It can be runnable in the morning, and too low in the afternoon. So pay attention to the gauge and to rainfall in the area before driving long distances. Since the Portage sits between the Maumee River and the Sandusky River (both having larger drainages and wider windows of opportunity) it isn't run very often even by locals.
However, if you can catch it when it's up it's worth doing - if only for the one (sometimes two) big surf waves just north of the Ohio Turnpike.
The run starts in Woodville, at either Trailmarker Park or Faye's Whippy-Dip.
At very high levels, interesting eddies are formed behind bridge piers at Trailmarker Park, and behind the railroad bridge piers at Faye's Whippy-Dip.
As you continue downstream out of Woodville, you'll encounter small surf waves at ledges and small eddies along the shore. The rapids on the Portage are formed by water dropping over small ledges on its way to Lake Erie, so there are no mid-stream eddies. Use the small waves and eddies to get loosen up thoroughly.
About halfway down the run, there's a yellow brick house on river right. Behind that house, there's a tiny dam. It's only about 6" tall, and produces a small, perfectly straight and symmetrical wave that spans the river. It's a great spot for learning the basics. The last time I was there the landowner was friendly to kayakers. He built the dam to make a place to ice-skate in the winter.
Just below are some ledges and miscellaneous surfing waves. (Best wave locations change at different water levels.)
After that, you'll pass under the Ohio Turnpike (I-80). There are two very dynamic surfing waves just after the Turnpike, one is on river left and the other is on river right. With different river levels, sometimes you can surf these waves repeatedly and other times you get just one shot at them. Both are rather steep, and require skill to catch and even more skill to stay on them.
About three-quarters of a mile later, take out at the park in Elmore on river-right.
Caution: Don't continue beyond Elmore. Two reasons - first: no rapids of signifigance. Second: there are dams at various points below Elmore.
Best, Doug Grosjean
The Maumee River is only 30 min.
away (do full 5 mile run or just P+P at Turkeyfoot, just upstream of I475 bridge).
The Lower Sandusky River is close by.
The Upper Sandusky River at Tiffin is only 35 min. away.