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Published: Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— Whether it’s a peaceful, relaxing journey or an adrenaline-inducing adventure, the Dayton area offers paddlers a variety of experiences.
The recently-completed RiverScape River Run offers both with the addition of two passageways – one a smooth-water channel for novice paddlers and, the other, a whitewater play feature for more experienced paddlers. All of this in the middle of downtown Dayton.
“The lowdam area, near the Dayton Art Institute, has now been made safer and people can paddle much longer distances,” said Erik Dahlstrom, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “And some people want to step up and go through bigger waves and get some whitewater practice and they can do that here, too.”
While the project enhances the dynamic downtown scene, the benefits of the River Run project extend beyond the metro Dayton area and include improving water quality and aquatic habitat and strengthening the area’s reputation as the Outdoor Adventure Capitol of the Midwest. The area was already home to Mad River Run at Eastwood MetroPark and the ECO Sports Corridor in Springfield.
“I run into people at our whitewater features who come here from all around the state,” Dahlstrom said.
So, what is the impact of recreation amenities like River Run and what does it offer paddlers? Local experts weigh in.
Erik Dahlstrom, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator
First, the river is safer because of removing the hazardous hydraulic from the low head dam in downtown Dayton and creating passage through the low dam.
I have already seen an anecdotal impact on Facebook and meetup sites with lots of chatter about the whitewater features, including private paddlers coming here from outside the region to play in the features, local paddlers getting out regularly, as well as an increase from colleges and universities, clubs, etc. coming here to do classes in the whitewater features on river running and river rescue. This means more people coming to the region to paddle and these are people who are going to look for places to eat, places to buy paddling equipment, places to camp, etc. I believe strongly that these features will bring more people downtown and bring even more people back to the river that has been hidden for so long. It’s really amazing to see how many people come to Eastwood MetroPark just to watch the water at the Mad River whitewater feature, and I believe we will see the same at RiverScape MetroPark.
As a paddler, these whitewater features create an opportunity to hone my skills and learn new skills locally without having to drive three or more hours to get my whitewater fix. I also really enjoy paddling outside of the region on a variety of rivers, so having these amenities in my hometown allow me to be in better shape.
Ken Tudor, Ohio Paddlers
I do not claim to be an expert paddler, but I’m definitely an avid paddler. From my observations, the replacement of dams that no longer serve a purpose with recreational river features that encourage the use of our valuable waterways is a great success.
Nowadays, most outdoor enthusiasts get their information about recreation opportunities from social media. The Ohio Paddlers Facebook page and website (www.ohiopaddlers.com) have been inundated with posts and videos about these features for several months.
People are driving from all over the tri-state to have an opportunity to enjoy these features. There are very few locations in the region where paddlers can find this class of wave to practice this sport. I just recently scheduled an all-day outing with our group, traveling through all three features, and everyone had a great time. It’s wonderful that they replaced dangerous low head dams with safe and fun river opportunities.
>> MORE RECREATION: The 5 best Dayton bike trails and how to make the most of them
Jeryl Yantis and Bernie Farley, Whitewater Warehouse
Whitewater playparks generate excitement and growth within their communities. Rivers naturally attract people to them and the Eastwood Park and River Run water features are no different. These new features make the river that much more exciting. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be on the river on a hot summer day?
Whitewater boaters are thrilled to have features that they can play in and practice their tricks. Recreational boaters can step up their game and paddle on more exciting waters while those who enjoy calmer water can still paddle and use the easier pass-thru feature where you can avoid the rapids. Other people will come to the features simply to enjoy nature, watch the boaters, sit and read a book, or hang out with friends. It’s the perfect place to just be.
As a business, we are fortunate to have both the Mad River and Great Miami River directly in our backyard. For us, the Eastwood Park and River Run water features offer tremendous opportunities to further grow our business as well as give us a great platform for teaching and growing the sports of kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The new features will be good for business and good for the community. We look forward to seeing kayaking grow to its full potential, right here in Dayton, Ohio.
>> MORE RECREATION: The 12 best places to hike near Dayton
RiverScape River Run at a Glance
Feature 1 access: River Left
Feature 2 access: Provides access to both sides of the river
Visitors using RiverScape River Run can park in one of the available public parking spaces downtown. Metered parking is free on weekdays after 6 p.m. and all day on weekends, including under the I-75 bridge on river left, which provides access.
>> PHOTOS: RiverScape River Run aerial view
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 11:48 AM
— Paddlesport aficionados have hand-picked Dayton as a “(Next) Best Paddling Town,” and we want to brag about that for a second.
Canoe and Kayaking Magazine released an article hailing Dayton and the Great Miami Riverway for not only being one of only 22 National Water Trails, “spanning over 150 miles to its confluence with the Ohio River,” but for the work Dayton has done to give recreational access to the river.
The article says the Wright Brothers unknowingly laid a foundation for Dayton to be a phenomenal outdoor recreation destination.
“With their eyes set on the sky, the Wright Brothers may not have realized the ground they laid to launch Dayton into a future of recreation tourism, from on-water adventures along the Great Miami Riverway to trails across the land and the open sky above,” according to the article.
"It's fun just to watch the kayakers do tricks and flips in the rapids," said Elizabeth Connor, the Great Miami Riverway Coordinator with the Miami Conservancy District, an organization working to protect, preserve and promote the Riverway and its communities. If you're not ready to get wet, join the ranks of spectators on the riverbank to watch the kayakers play.
The magazine goes on to highlight the many amenities that are available on and around the river trail for paddling, kayaking and canoeing alike. They credit Dayton’s outdoor recreational success to excellent communication and marketing of the region’s opportunities— a powerful combination the author traces back to the Wright Brothers.
“On par with their aviation history, the sky’s the limit for the Great Miami Riverway through Dayton, Ohio,” according to the article.
Dayton is known as the Outdoor Adventure Capitol of the Midwest due to recreational opportunities from biking to hiking to water adventures. Here is why Dayton is getting attention for paddling in particular.
1. WATER TRAILS
The Great Miami River, Mad River, and Stillwater River were designated as state water trails in August, 2010 and all three water trails were designated as a national water trail in 2016. Together, they make the largest water trail system in Ohio. The trail collectively offers 265 miles of waterway accessible to recreational boaters, fishermen and wildlife watchers. A water trail is a network of publicly accessible facilities that provide opportunities to fish; launch canoes, kayaks, and other craft; and explore the natural and cultural heritage along the river.
2. PADDLING AMENITIES
The area was already home to Mad River Run at Eastwood MetroPark and the ECO Sports Corridor in Springfield and unveiled the Riverscape River Run in 2017. These are three big destinations for paddlers of all skill levels. But there are many others.
3. BUILT IN SUPPORT
Parks systems and businesses continue to work on ways to facilitate paddlesport recreation in the area, including programming and equipment rentals for beginners to advanced canoe and kayak enthusiasts.
• Twin Creek Kayak & Canoe Livery, 1341 W. Market St, Germantown; (937) 903-8934
Published: Friday, June 15, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Father’s Day is this Sunday and if you are still trying to think of an awesome experience to share with your dad, consider an outing in one of your 18 clean, safe MetroParks.
Dads of all ages and interests enjoy spending time in the outdoors and as an added bonus; outdoor experiences in your Five Rivers MetroParks are free (or low cost) and help you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
Here are seven fun, affordable outdoor adventures to plan with your crew this Father’s Day:
1. Family camp out
Offering both front and backcountry campsites, MetroParks are the perfect location for some family time under the stars. Camp sites are available at Possum Creek, Englewood, Germantown and Twin Creek MetroPark, and can be booked online at org/easy.
Those who want to take the National Wildlife Federation’s pledge to celebrate camping as a way to connect to nature, can camp with fellow outdoor adventurers during the Great American Campout on Saturday, June 23 from 3 p.m. to 10 a.m. at Possum Creek MetroPark. Guests can join Five Rivers MetroParks for an evening of camping, hotdogs, s’mores and hilarious dad jokes around a roaring campfire. $25/family (up to five people). Registration is required and available here.
>>GUIDE: 5 places to go camping around Dayton
2. Hold your horses
Explore the trails at Carriage Hill MetroPark on horseback with your dad. Horse trail rides are one hour long and are guided by experienced MetroParks staff. After the trail ride, admire the many horses at the Carriage Hill Riding Center or visit the historical farm to learn what life farm life was like in the 1890s. Spaces for trail rides are limited and require pre-registration. $30/person. Register online or call (937) 275-PARK.
3. For foodie fathers
While some dads specialize in frozen pizza, many dads enjoy crafting recipes in the kitchen and cooking on the grill. Stop at the 2nd Street Market to pick up fresh, local produce, desserts, meats, breads and more, and then spend some quality time with your dad creating the perfect summer meal. Those looking for last minute goodies and kitchen staples can visit the Market on Father’s Day thanks to Sunday hours, which will continue through the winter holidays. Learn more about the Market’s offerings at org/localfood.
>>RELATED: Big changes coming to 2nd Street Market
4. Gone fishing
Grab your fishing gear and head to Possum Creek MetroPark for a classic outdoor dad activity—fishing! Fishing at Argonne Lake does not require a license and is free-of-charge to park visitors. After spending the day at the lake, visit the farm animals or hike through the remnants of the Argonne Forest amusement park. Check out more locations to fish in your MetroParks here.
5. Hit the trails
Fathers who enjoy the spending time outdoors will love backpacking the 22-mile Twin Valley Trail (TVT). Just 30 minutes from downtown Dayton, the TVT offers a backpacking experience reminiscent of other wilderness trails and features beautiful hills, babbling brooks, abundant wildlife and more. The TVT combines the existing network of trails in Germantown and Twin Creek MetroParks to create a longer, more integrated trail system totaling over 43 miles throughout 2,600 acres. Backpackers can spend all day on the trails or choose to embark on a shorter hike. To plan your TVT adventure, visit org/tvt.
6. Plan a paddle
Celebrate Father’s Day on the water with a peaceful float on the Lagoon at Eastwood MetroPark. For dads who want a longer paddle with some whitewater action, the seven-mile paddle from Eastwood MetroPark through the RiverScape River Run into downtown Dayton is the perfect paddling adventure. If you want to try something new on the water, consider attending Try Rowing Olympic Day on Saturday, June 23 at Eastwood MetroPark from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This free event allows participants to try the sport of rowing and connect with local rowing resources.
7. Get centered with yoga
For dads who could use some time to de-stress, consider attending a Saturday yoga session during Fitness in the Park on June 16 from 10 to 11 a.m. at RiverScape MetroPark. Tori Reynolds of Speakeasy Yoga guides participants through this free workout under the RiverScape Pavilion. This class is for all skill levels. Bring your own water and a mat. After your yoga session, treat your dad to lunch at the 2nd Street Market or rent bikes from RiverScape Rentals and explore the nation’s largest paved trail network.
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— From a leisurely journey to an adrenaline-inducing adventure, paddlesports fit the bill whether you prefer to chill or want a thrill.
“It’s so peaceful, and all of the wildlife we see along the river is just so amazing,” said Erik Dahlstrom, Five River MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “I just love getting people out on the water for the first time.”
Great blue heron, muskrats, deer, wood ducks and osprey are just a few of the many creatures that call the local river banks home. A peaceful paddle affords the opportunity to slow things down a bit and get up close with nature.
Then there is the heart-pumping excitement that paddling has to offer – especially whitewater kayaking.
“When I’m at RiverScape, by the Dayton Art Institute, and I’m paddling into a perfect big wave, it’s just like flying,” Dahlstrom said. “It’s like everything else just disappears.”
Dahlstrom – whose love of paddling began with a Boy Scout canoe trip to Canada close to three decades ago – is not alone. The popularity of paddlesports has been on the rise for the past decade according to The Outdoor Foundation. Stand up paddling saw participation increase by 26 percent per year from 2012 to 2015. Other activities, like white water kayaking and kayak fishing, also saw substantial increases. The 2015 Special Report on Paddlesports indicated participation numbers of more than 21 million Americans and more than 215 million annual paddling outings.
From miles of natural waterways that are part of the expansive Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail to man-made whitewater features in Springfield and Dayton, there are many opportunities to get your paddle on in the Miami Valley.
There are close to 300 miles to paddle along three state-designated water trails – the Mad, Stillwater and Great Miami rivers – in the Dayton region. Not to mention many other rivers, creeks and lakes.
“We have tons of paddle-able water,” Dahlstrom said. “I think that’s what makes the area so great for paddlers.”
From calm lakes, ideal for beginners, to whitewater features for those who want a challenge, there are a variety of locations to choose from.
If you’re looking for some like-minded adventure seekers, the Dayton Ohio Paddlers is a group of dedicated paddlers who regularly navigate the local lakes, rivers and streams. Interested paddlers can check out the group’s Facebook page.
“I highly encourage taking a class,” Dahlstrom said. “Learn the basics, the laws, how to paddle in traffic and basic rescue technique.”
The MetroParks offer a variety of learning opportunities including Kayak 1 – which is lake based – and river-based Kayak 2 as well as Stand Up Paddleboarding 1
Local outfitters, such as Whitewater Warehouse and Great Miami Outfitters, also offer a multitude of opportunities to get on the water. Whitewater Warehouse, in Dayton, offers classes, sponsors demos and kayaking trips and has kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals at Eastwood Lake throughout the summer. Great Miami Outfitters, in Centerville, also offers a variety of classes and excursions as part of their Adventure Base Camp educational programs.
A few of the many upcoming paddling opportunities
Whitewater Warehouse Kayak and SUP Rentals (Sundays)
What: A variety of kayaks and stand up paddleboards will be available to try. Family fun and an ideal way to try out equipment before purchasing.
Where: Eastwood Lake
When: June 17, July 15, Aug. 5, 19, noon-4 p.m. (rentals are available on other days, visit www.kayakdayton.com for details)
Who: Adults and children, discounts for groups
Info: 937-222-7020 or email at email@example.com
What: Equipment provided at this free MetroParks event, which includes kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards.
Where: Eastwood MetroPark Lagoon
When: July 5, Aug. 1
Downtown Dayton River Kayaking Trips
What: Kayak down the Mad River and Great Miami River through two whitewater features at RiverScape River Run.
Where: Mad River Recreation Trail
When: July 24, Aug. 21, Sept. 18
Who: Paddlers 14 years and older, registration required
Info: Call 937-275-7275 or visit www.metroparks.org/paddling
Five Rivers MetroParks
Contact: Call 937-275-7275 or visit www.metroparks.org/paddling
Where: 104 Valley St., Dayton
Contact: Call 937-222-7020 or visit www.kayakdayton.com
Great Miami Outfitters
Where: 101 E. Alex-Bell Road #140, Centerville
Contact: Call 937-938-5009 or visit www.greatmiamioutfitters.com
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 3:07 PM
LEBANON — It could be the first outdoor bike park of its kind completed in Ohio.
A growing number of mountain bikers, freestyle riders and stunt bicyclists already know about the Premier Health Atrium Medical Center Bike Park, off the Ohio 48 Bypass in Lebanon.
The grand opening for the 45-acre park, built atop a closed landfill, is scheduled for Saturday, June 2.
Last week, riders were trying out the beginners’ level pump track during a preview event.
“There’s all kinds of different opportunities out here,” said Mike Stautberg, president, Atrium Medical Center Foundation said, as riders wove around the track, trying to preserve momentum without pedaling. “It’s going to be a very unique opportunity for Warren County and our entire region.”
Dayton plans to build an outdoor bike park near Welcome Stadium, but it is still in the design stage. Online searches indicated that in Columbus, the Gaters Bike Park is under development, so far featuring a 1/4-mile single track.
The nearest place for the range of experiences available in Lebanon — even on a smaller scale — is across the Ohio River in Burlington, Ky., according to Dave Huff, designer of the bike parks in Lebanon and the England-Idlewild Bike Park in Kentucky.
“Beyond that, there is nothing,” Huff said last week in a phone interview. “I think the next closest is Terra Haute, Ind. Then the next one I think is in Chicago.”
Lebanon’s $220,000 park features pump tracks, jumps and mountain bike routes all connected by a perimeter trail.
It marks the culmination of more than two years of planning begun by the city’s park board.
“You know how long we’ve been working on this?” said K.C.Stallings, a Lebanon resident and bike shop owner who participated in the park board planning process approved by the city council.
Stallings envisioned a time when riders along the Little Miami trail, part of one of the longest trail networks in the nation, will turn off at Lebanon, “check out the pump track and then head into downtown for lunch.”
In addition, there are hopes of drawing international cyclocross events to the park, off the Ohio 48 interchange at Interstate 71, and riders from the region looking for a place to pedal a pump track, jumps or mountain bike trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders.
“It’s also just an amazing park. It’s free to the community,” Stallings added, before riding off into the park.
Local cyclocross aficionados are looking for places to ride since the former Kingswood Golf Course in Deerfield Twp. became the embroiled in an ongoing development dispute.
The next step in Lebanon’s plan calls for completion of a connection with the city’s trail system, enabling residents to pedal all the way to the park near the end of Turtlecreek-Union Road.
“Over 30,000 cubic yards was hauled in to construct the mountain bike trails, jump lines, pump tracks and other features that make this park unique. Features vary depending on ability, with there being many opportunities for beginners all the way to more advanced riders,” City Manager Scott Brunka said in an email update on the project.
In addition to the hospital and its foundation, which were the primary sponsors, Brunka expressed appreciation to sponsors including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Trek Bicycles, Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA), the Harmon Civic Trust, Lebanon Rotary, Mane Inc., Lebanon Optimist Club, Infinit, LCNB, REI and Greensite.
The park includes a parking lot, but additional parking for the grand-opening will be available in the Home Depot/ Rural King parking lot, across the Ohio 48 Bypass. A bike drop-off will be set up in the parking lot and shuttles running from there to the park.
Riders will also be able to ride from event parking to the park.
Grand opening, June 2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Premier Health Atrium Medical Center Bike Park, off the Ohio 48 Bypass in Lebanon.
475 E. Turtlecreek-Union Road
Lebanon, Oh 45036
For information, contact the City of Lebanon Parks & Recreation Department
50 S. Broadway, Lebanon