Get outside and enjoy nature with a paddle on the water this summer! Don’t know where to go? We’ve gathered a list of the best places for canoeing and kayaking in Columbus, along with places to rent your boats or stand up paddle boards.
Explore the waterways and the banks of the rivers and lakes around the city and Central Ohio with friends or family – or even on a solo trip!
It’s hot, and there aren’t many ways to get relief from the heat this summer with most public pools and indoor attractions closed. Canoeing and kayaking in Columbus is a great way to cool off.
Canoeing and kayaking are great for both relaxation and fitness, and no experience is required! The rental outfitters will make sure you understand the rules and safety details.
Some liveries, outfitters, and private launches will allow those who own their own kayaks and canoes to launch for a small fee.
Tips for Canoeing and Kayaking in Columbus
Wear shoes or strap-on sandals. If you end up in the water, flip flops and crocs will fall off.
Bring sunscreen and bug spray, and make sure to reapply sunscreen as sunlight reflects off the water.
Wear comfortable clothing that can get wet. While you’re unlikely to end up in the water, you may get water on yourself while paddling. Dress for the temperature of the water, but it always helps to have layers.
Wear the life jacket provided to you. All boat rentals come with paddles and PFD for safety.
Put your keys, wallet, and cellphone in a waterproof bag, just in case – or in a ziploc bag in a zippered pocket at the very least.
Check weather and river conditions. The rental place will help you make a decision for both of these, but if you are inexperienced, you may want to avoid times when rivers are high.
Bring plenty of water and a small snack for longer trips. Even though you are ON water, its easy to get dehydrated in the heat of summer.
Follow ALL rules of the water and boats as provided by the rental company.
Canoeing and Kayaking in Columbus
Scioto River in Dublin and Powell
Get Out Adventures with Adaptive Sports Connection
Located on Twin Lakes and the Scioto River, 6000 Harriott Drive, Powell.
Get Out Adventures is a social enterprise with 100% of net revenue going to support Adaptive Sports Connection, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing for veterans, children, and adults with disabilities.
Offers recreational kayaks (sit-in, sit-on-top, and tandem kayaks) and paddle boards for rental, or $15 drop-in fee with your own watercraft. Rental is $30 per person for 2 hours, and $20 for kids under 12 if paddling. FREE for veterans!
Also offering group outings and adventures, such as Doggie Paddles, Yoga/Mindfulness Paddles, Twilight and Full Moon Paddles, and even Birthday Parties! See article about Get Out Adventures for a list of events and more details.
Offering kayaking trips in downtown Dublin. Kayaks are tandem, and can fit 1-2 adults, or 2 adults and a small child.
Downtown Dublin from Dublin Springs Park – Take a scenic ride along Kiwanis Riverway Park, through Downtown Dublin, and under the Bridge Street and Dublin Link bridges. Cost: $18- $35 per person.
Downtown Dublin Neon Rides – With these extra fun rentals, lighting is added to the kayaks! Enjoy the sunset and the lighting on the beautiful Link Pedestrian Bridge as you paddle around Downtown Dublin. Cost: $35-$70.
Book trips on Sunrise Kayaking website.
River’s Edge Kayak Company
6375 Riverside Dr. Dublin, OH 43017. 614-588-5400. TBA for 2023; weather and river conditions permitting. See website for updates.
Convenient hourly kayak, canoe and SUP rental company with no reservations required! You can book online or on the phone to guarantee your watercraft.
They offer single kayaks, tandem kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards. Including both sit in and sit on top kayaks.
Hourly rentals start at just $25 per hour. Groups of 10-19 get 10% off the total, groups of 20+ get 20% off the total price. Half day rentals (4 or more hours) get 20% off the total price.
All managers are CPR certified. River’s Edge offers a paved parking lot, portable restroom, picnic tables, a kayak wash station and more!
Launch your own watercraft on weekends for $15 with use of the parking lot, kayak wash station, picnic tables, restroom, and wheeled carts to transport your watercraft down to the launch point via the paved path behind the office building.
Big Darby Creek
Big Darby Creek is a dedicated National Scenic River, and is one of the most biologically diverse aquatic systems in the Midwestern United States.
Trapper John’s Canoe Livery
7141 London-Groveport Rd, Grove City, Ohio 43123 (614) 877-4321
Trapper John’s Canoe Livery sits on the banks of Big Darby Creek and offers rentals, tours, and more for your paddle adventure. There are trips perfect for beginners to advanced paddlers lasting from 1-6 hours. You can bring your own kayak or canoe, or rental the equipment from them.
They are often booked up on weekends for the longer trips unless you schedule in advance.
Scioto River O’Shaughnessy Reservoir
O’Shaughnessy Reservoir is located about 9 miles northwest of Columbus in Delaware County. The O’Shaughnessy Reservoir was formed by the The O’Shaughnessy Dam on the Scioto River.
Gahanna Parks & Rec offer to options to get out on the water with Paddle Gahanna. Choose your experience at Creekside Park, 117 Mill St. (kayak or paddleboat). Should reopen Memorial Day for the 2023 season.
At just $10 for 30 minutes, it’s a GREAT way to try it out before you go on a longer paddle. Book online in advance; walk up may be available.
They offer tandem, sit-on-top style kayaks and pontoon style paddle boats (paddle boats Creekside only). Kayaks can have up to three riders (third rider must be a child). Kayaks are 2 person kayaks, a 3rd rider age 10 and under can be included, weight capacity is 550lbs
Paddle boats can fit 5 people, weight capacity is 830 lbs. There is no age limitation on riders, all riders 12 and younger must have an adult on boat.
See more details about paddling and other fun events in Gahanna.
Hoover Reservoir is a 3000+ acre lake is just east of Westerville, Ohio and has a 10hp limit, which makes it safe for kayaks, canoes, and SUP. There are multiple launch areas and boat ramps. Most of the reservoir (besides coves) is in full sun, so bring sunscreen and/or protective clothing.
Don’t have your own kayak or canoe? You can rent and take lessons from Hoover Adventures. They offer kayak and canoe rental hourly, half day, and full day, and every boat comes with life jackets and a whistle. You can also book self-guided tours, lessons, classes and more.
Classes include Beginners, Deep Water, Adaptive Kayaking, Kayaking for kids, fitness kayaking, and Kayaking for ages 50+. (614) 423-9234. See launch sites and rental info here.
Paddle & Roll
Offering kayaks, tandem kayaks, and stand up paddle boards, Paddle & Roll will meet you at the boat dock of your choice on the Hoover Reservoir. They’ll review the equipment with you and help you launch.
Not sure which boat or dock to choose? Ask them! They typical meet in the Oxbow Boat Ramp on the Reservoir.
SUP Columbus teaches stand-up paddle board lessons by certified paddle board instructors at Hoover Reservoir in Westerville. They can teach beginners – you don’t have to have any experience – just a willingness to learn! Paddle board rentals are available after completing a 15 minute tutorial (one time only).
Want to try something new? Take an SUP Yoga class! You’ll perform standard yoga poses on your paddle board on the water. If you can do the poses on land, you can do them on the water!
Alum Creek Lake is in Delaware County about 7 miles north of Columbus. It was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 1970’s, and is about 3,269 acres. There are lots of boats on the lake, but plenty of coves and inlets to enjoy safely.
Alum Creek Marina Rentals
4000 Hollenback Rd, Lewis Center, OH 43035. (740) 548-6056
In addition to motorized boat rentals, the rent 1 and 2 person kayaks, pedal boats (in marina cove only), canoes, and paddleboards at Alum Creek Marina Rentals.
Hughes Outdoors offer kayak, canoe, and SUP rentals for Alum Creek. They also offer kayak and SUP lessons too! Check the events page to see if there are any upcoming events such as night floats or other special guided trips.
Scioto River Downtown
Olentangy Paddle offers guided tours along the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. Rentals include single kayaks, paddles, life jacket, a basic lesson, and a guide on the water. Tours are approximately 2.5 hours, with 2 hours on the water.
Guided tours cost $40 + tax for adults and $20 + tax for kids 8-14. Tours are recommended for ages 12 and up to ensure they can paddle for 2 hours. You have the option of towing their boat as well.
Know of other great places to canoe and kayak in Columbus, or where to rent gear? Let us know in the comments!
Buckeye Lake is a reservoir in Fairfield, Licking, and Perry counties. The lake was created in the 19th century as part of the Ohio and Erie Canal project. The lake is now used for recreation, with lots of boating and fishing throughout the year.
You’ll find islands (including inhabited ones), restaurants with docks, and more.
Water levels are lowered in the winter, and once the lake freezes over, you’ll find lots of ice fishing, ice skating, hockey, and even dirt bike and ATV riding on the ice!
Looking to enjoy the lake in warmer weather? Grab a kayak and explore the lake! The lake gets very busy with boats during summer weekends, so we’d warn against kayaking on the Lake during busy times if you aren’t familiar with the lake and boating precautions.
12408 Lancaster St, Millersport, OH 43046. (740) 327-8762
LakeBound Outfitters offers kayak, canoe, and bike rentals, as well as fishing gear, fishing license and more. AND they have the CUTEST shop with gifts, apparel, and other lake necessities. Leave some time to shop before or after your rental. Awesome customer service and pricing!
Kayak rentals are $20/2hrs, or $35/4hrs or $60/up to 8hrs per kayak. Launch is typically from Leibs Island, but follow on Facebook for special events and other launch areas this summer!
Fit N’ Paddle with Pea Ohana
Enjoy Standup Paddleboarding at Snug Harbor in Buckeye Lake. Each session includes a fun dry land workout followed by a brief dry land paddleboarding usage & safety instructional & your entire experience will be led by a trained guide.
Registration is $50 for rental and session, or $35 if you bring your own paddleboard.
Pea Ohana also offers lots of other fun events throughout Licking and Muskingum counties.
Hocking River in Hocking Hills
The Hocking River is a 102-mile-long river winding through southwestern Ohio and through Hocking Hills. It’s a popular place for canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and tubing. The Hocking is calm class I river with few big rapids or rocks to watch out for.
Hocking Hills Adventures
Hocking Hills Adventures offers a full range of fun in Hocking Hills with River Trips (canoe, kayak, tubes, rafts), camping and rustic cabins, and fun center including go-karts, miniature golf course, game room, and more.
River Trips range from 2 hours to all day on the 9 miles stretch. Reservations are required for rentals, and some options are restricted depending on water levels.
Hocking Hills Canoe Livery
Hocking Hills Canoe Livery offers river trips with canoes, kayaks, and rafts, as well as tent camping and cabin rental. Trips are 5-7 miles, and will last 1.5 to 3 hours. You can even rent kayaks and canoes by the hour to try out the sport without committing to a longer trip.
This is a great option for beginners or families with younger children. Rafting is dependent on river conditions, and may only be available during Spring. Reservations are required for all trips, as they often sell out during the summer.
Birch Bark Canoe Livery in Champaign County
1455 River Road, Urbana, Ohio, 43078. (937) 652-2663
Mad River in Champaign County is a perfect place to explore in a canoe or kayak. The cool and clear water is spring fed and only 2-3 feet deep in most places. Birch Bark Canoe Livery offers 5 miles trips will take 2 hours in a kayak or canoe, or 4-5 hours in a tube.
Kids ages 7-8 may be able to maneuver a boat on their own. Younger kids can be in a canoe with parents; ages 3 and up only. You can bring your own boat and pay for shuttle services. They offer primitive camping for just $12/night. Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday every week