Todd Fork is a fun run on which to learn or refine basic whitewater canoe and kayak skills, with relatively frequent rapids, some having technical merit (e.g., strainer avoidance, some maneuvering in rapids to avoid rocks, etc.). Some local outfitters put canoes on Todd Fork when their primary choice (the Little Miami) is too high.
Strainers are a random but recurring concern. Toward the end of the run, near Morrow, one river-left channel (having more flow than the river-right channel, thus seeming the preferred route) had two strainers in rapid succession, which could not be seen very much in advance by boat scouting. A downed tree extended most of the way across from river-left, and a root ball took up the river-right third about twenty feet downstream. The tree was duckable in a kayak (at 3' level on the gauge), but had not enough clearance for a canoe. The river right channel looked uninviting with a choked-off entry, but was clear afterward. Many side channels which are only runnable at higher levels can not be river scouted and often contain blocking strainers. Large rains move large debris into and out of rapids. Bottom line, if you can not see well-down it, you should probably not enter into it!
At 1' to 3' on the painted Middleboro Bridge gauge (approx. 6.0' - 8.8' on the Little Miami), Todd Fork is runnable in open canoes and recreational kayaks. Some experience is recommended. Levels from 3' to 6' on the Middleboro Bridge gauge (approx. 8.8' - 12' on the Little Miami), require a bit more skill, but are not unduly hazardous. Intermediate skills are suggested at these levels and beyond.
Some rapids rate II+ in higher water due to maneuvering requirements and the possibility of unpleasantly long swims. The most difficult features for novice boaters may be two right-turns (close to Morrow) where the main flow runs into river-left banks. These features are easily visible (for anyone looking downriver attentively), and sneak routes are available on river-right (to the inside of the bend) at higher water.
Numerous wave-trains (in the 3+ foot-tall range) open up at the 5' level (11' on the Little Miami), though they tend to be choppy. An open canoe (without complete whitewater floatation, filling all space not occupied by a paddler) would likely take on a good bit of water and possibly (probably?) swamp at 5'. That said, routes which avoid the larger waves are usually available, for those with the skills to deftly maneuver their canoe. Full flotation would be recommended in open boats at river levels at or above 4' on the Middleboro bridge gauge. At 3' (approx. 8.8' on the Little Miami) the waves are fun, at 4' they tend to wash out, and at 5' they come back bigger and better!
Todd Fork can be run at levels as high as 11' to 12' on the Middleboro Bridge (estimated, not marked). Although possible, it can not be recommended except by experienced boaters who fully recognize the risks of floating a flooded river. At these levels, the current is extremely fast and pushy, with the river out of its banks and running through the trees. Kayakers who have floated Todd Fork at similar levels have used words like "crazy," "scary," and "stupid." Tree pins are the most likely hazard, and would tend to be extremely hazardous (even life-threatening) due to the water velocity and volume. Bridges which normally are well-overhead are easily tapped with a paddle at these levels.
Todd Fork has a very small drainage basin, which means it flashes up to peak flow quickly and runs out of water equally quickly. It is also a fairly effortless paddle, with few pools. After heavy rains, the water will be highly sedimented, but otherwise appears to be of good quality.
It is definitely a stream that you can't wait to float on a better day, weatherwise. As an example: At 10 a.m. on April 15, 2006 a Cincypaddlers member posted that Todd Fork was at 7' and rising. That was a good cue to put the boats on top of the car and wait just a few hours. At 2:30 p.m. (just 4.5 hours later), Todd Fork was at 5' and falling, and was a very enjoyable float.
If you are looking for something a little more challenging than the Little Miami or Whitewater River without being over the top, Todd Fork is a good bet.
Todd Fork is also narrower, more technical and arguably prettier than the Great Miami River. However, the Great Miami has easier access at Blue Rock Road to good surfing and eddying, and tends to run much more frequently.
Todd Fork is not a playboater's paradise. Occasional surf opportunities exist. These can depend on water level. Most of the surfable waves have no eddy service. If you hope to surf, you need to see the wave coming and set up to catch it on-the-fly (as you float down to it).
Todd Fork is a beautiful fast-flowing stream that is highly overlooked. It is a great place to work on slightly more advanced river running skills without being over most people's ability levels. Watch for rain and plan accordingly.Shuttle Directions:
To get to the Middleboro Road put-in, head northeast out of Morrow on highway 22 for about 4 miles. Turn right (south) on Middleboro Road. The put-in is less than a mile at the bottom of the hill. Parking is just enough for about one vehicle on either end of the bridge, on the upstream side. The actual put-in on river right, just upstream of the bridge, can be a bit daunting at higher water, as it is not in an eddy. You should probably have reasonable boat skills to be on this reach at higher water levels.
There are two choices for takeout in Morrow, both being just past the bicycle and pedestrian bridge, immediately prior to the confluence with the Little Miami River:
River right: Parking in the parking lot adjacent to the police station at 150 E. Pike St. in Morrow (ongoing permission verified) or at Little Miami Canoe Rental (ask for permission).
River left: parking along Front Street in Morrow. Other Front Street takeouts are upriver on river left between the Citgo station and the confluence of First Creek, approx. 1/2 mile off the highway. First Creek is another popular local run, and I have observed boaters taking out at that confluence.
We also note that the stretch upstream of the Middleboro Bridge (our listed put-in) may also be boated. Starting at State Route 350 near Clarksville, about one mile south of of highway 22, adds perhaps another 6 miles (unverified). Put-in at river-right immediately downstream of the bridge (right of the road traveling south), where a gravel and sand area can hold several cars. Put-in from this location looks fairly easy.
I ran Todd's on 5/19 and 5/20. On 5/19 (two days after substantial rain) the Middleboro gauge was at 2.5 feet and I found it to be a great run. I didn't drag at all and found many 1-2ft wave trains and several small but surfable waves. The highlight was just below the ball fields in a right hand bend where there was a nice hole of 2-3 ft to run through (easy walk back to run again. The next day I ran it with morgans and went 12 miles from 350 to Morrow. The water level was under 2 ft and seemed to bwe getting a lil scrappy. Right now I'm awaiting more rain to try it again.........
Todd Fork is running. It's flat with some riffles, which is good if you're not looking for any whitewater. A word of caution about the put in: DON'T PARK ON RIVER RIGHT UPSTREAM SIDE! This is the obvious place to put a vehicle, but the shoulder is way too soft and steep. Don't park there. Drop the boats and then go back down the road a ways to a more solid berm or go up to Clarksville and put in there. This will add probably a couple of miles to the trip.
After you go in at Middleboro RD the first tressel you come to is where my family's property begins and goes to the next tressel. I have spent the biggest part of my life on that part of the river and find it to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. When the river is high enough I would suggest it to anyone. I used to have a farm party with live bands and go-cart racing all day and night. If you're floating down the river and hear music stop in and say hi.
Jeff Pence http://201frontstreet.com
Team Hobo here again, We just got done running the strech from Clarksville Rd. Inlet to Morrow, Outlet. Aprrox 8miles and 3 hours or under. Ran it a estimated 5-6 feet which seemed low considering the drop in elevation at points, We see the real potential here, was even fun at the lowest possible lvl to run our humble opinion, Can't wait to run it at 10ft or more boy would it really rock them. Plan on doing Paint Creek when water level is right, Team Hobo Out! Happy Creek running and water action, stay safe!
todds fork was incredibly lame,to give it a class II rating is a big over-estimate of what it really is I ran it on 12-15-07 at around 3 feet on the midleboro bridge and there might of been 25 feet of a slight chop on the entire 9.1 mile section to the takeout in morrow
We ran Todd Fork yesterday, 12/15, for the first time. AW stated river level @ 7.53 at 9am. Finally a chance to run it. It was a beutiful run with all the snow, but very few features. We were most disappointed. Will probably stick with Whitewater River at this point. It was a fun, fast moving stretch, but we like more features than Todd Fork had to offer. Only a couple good sets of rapids/choppier water. Only scraped a couple of times. River was clear of debries and appeared to be of good quality. If you go during hunting season, you might want to leave a note stating your purpose. Got back to the put in to be questioned by game warden. Land owner called thinking we were out hunting. No problems though. Didn't get the feeling that we weren't welcome.
gauge on this page little miami guage in milford was 6.5 ft and river was NOT RUNNING...... guage should read @ LEAST 7.5ft
IDEAL level is 9ft plus
The recommended levels listed are from the gauge on the Little Miami at Milford.
There is a painted gauge on the bridge abutments under the Middleboro Road bridge, which is just north of Morrow. One foot on that gauge is probably the lowest floatable level.
Roughly, correlations between the Little Miami gauge and the Middleboro Bridge gauge are:
This presumes, of course, that similar rain events caused the rivers to rise relatively in unison. NOTE: Large releases on Caesar Creek or isolated heavy rain upstream on either watershed can affect this correlation.
For a simple rule-of-thumb, Todd Fork starts being runnable about the same time that canoe liveries stop putting people on the Little Miami due to high water. If the Little Miami is running something like 6 to 10 ft, Todd Fork is probably great for just about anyone. If the Little Miami is running under 6 ft, Todd Fork is getting bony--some portaging will likely be required. Above 10 ft (4 ft on Todd Fork), you probably want to have some good eddying skills and be comfortable with larger waves.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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A Nice Day to Float
Through the Trees
Middleboro Bridge Gauge at 4'
Middleboro Bridge Gauge
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