Home > Destinations > Kayaking Destinations > USA > Hocking Hills Kayaking And Canoeing Adventures

Hocking Hills Kayaking And Canoeing Adventures

Nicola Burridge
- If you buy via a link on this page, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Learn more
- Read our review guidelines

Embark on an aquatic adventure in Ohio’s hidden gem: Hocking Hills. 

Nestled amidst lush forests and dramatic cliffs, Hocking Hills kayaking offers a thrilling journey through nature’s masterpiece.

Glide along pristine waters, explore secret coves, and witness breathtaking scenery. 

Get ready to paddle your way into an unforgettable experience, whether you float down the Hocking River in a canoe or paddle along the rugged shorelines of the region’s picturesque lakes.

3 Best Places To Kayak At Hocking Hills

Hocking River

The Hocking River is one of the largest in the state and flows through the scenic Hocking Valley with the ancient Hocking Hills providing an idyllic backdrop. This can be a peaceful place to kayak, with wildlife often spotted along the quiet banks. 

The scenic Hocking River is generally slow-moving, with some sections with mild Class II rapids. Most of the rapids can be portaged if they’re too challenging for your skill level. 

However, there are many sections that can be paddled without encountering rapids, which I find are more suitable canoe trips for beginners and kayaking with young children. 

The section between Rockbridge and Logan offers relaxed paddling through the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. I recommend this section if you want to hike to view the natural rockbridge. 

You’ll also find sandbars on the Hocking River that can provide good resting spots along the way.

After Logan, the Hocking River flows through Wayne National Forest with further opportunities for wildlife viewing before it reaches the Ohio River at Hockingport.

There are several kayak outfitters operating rentals and guided tours on the Hocking River, either by kayak or canoe, including the family-owned Hocking Hills Adventures.

Class of Rapids rating:

Class I/II – easy, mostly Class I and slow-moving water with some mild Class II rapids.

Where to launch & How to get there:

Falls Mill Bridge, River Street, Logan, OH 43138

Hocking Hills State Park 

Hocking Hills State Park offers stunning scenery and a peaceful environment for a family kayak or canoe trip. Rose Lake is a quiet lake surrounded by nature, with a forested shoreline and calm water. 

One of the best things about this lake is that it’s limited to paddle crafts and small boats with electric motors. This means it’s great for beginners looking for calm, sheltered waters and minimal boat traffic. The flatwater also makes it perfect if you want to canoe or paddleboard.

Rose Lake is located next to the state park campground, so it can be ideal if you want to extend your trip and spend a couple of nights camping and exploring the area. 

If you like stargazing, I’ve discovered this is one of the best places in Ohio to view the night sky with little to no light pollution to affect the visibility.

One thing to note is that there is no parking next to the lake, so you will have to carry your kayak a short distance along a trail. There are also no boat rentals inside the park. 

Class of Rapids rating:

N/A – flatwater lake, easy 

Where to launch & How to get there:

Rose Lake Overlook, off Buckeye Trail, Logan, OH 43138. Access is by walking trail from the campground or a longer hike from the visitor center. 

Lake Logan State Park

Lake Logan State Park can be an excellent place to kayak for all skill levels. The 400-acre Lake Logan is surrounded by an oak and hickory forest that’s home to many species of wildlife.

Lake Logan is regarded as Ohio’s best fishing lake, set within Ohio’s oldest landscape, making this a unique spot for a kayaking trip. 

There’s plenty of shoreline to explore with the ancient landscape making a scenic backdrop for your trip. There are several picnic sites available around the shore as well as a swimming beach. 

Lake Logan Marina offers paddleboard and kayak rentals. Plus, you can buy bait at the marina if you want to head out on a fishing trip. Don’t forget to take your Ohio fishing license

There’s a 10 mph limit for motorized vessels on the lake so it can be a safe place for a relaxing canoe trip for beginners and families.

There is no campground inside the state park, as it’s a day-use park, but there are several vacation rentals, campgrounds, and cabins in the surrounding area if you want to extend your canoeing adventure. 

Class of Rapids rating:

N/A – flatwater lake, easy

Where to launch & How to get there:

Lake Logan Marina, Lake Logan Road, Logan, OH 43138

Kayaking Near Hocking Hills

Dow Lake

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, the picturesque Dow Lake is set within the forests of Strouds Run State Park near the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. 

This is a scenic spot for a kayaking trip and, with sheltered waters and a 10 mph limit on motors, it can be the perfect place for relaxed exploration. 

I recommend kayaking on this lake no matter what your skill level. You’ll also find primitive camping and cabins at the park’s campground so you can make it a weekend trip. 

There are kayak rentals available from the boathouse at the launch site. The lake is also good for fishing for largemouth bass and crappie if you want to pack your fishing tackle. 

If you like the feeling of being in the wilderness without being too far from civilization, Dow Lake can be the ideal spot.

Class of Rapids rating:

N/A – flatwater lake, easy

Where to launch & How to get there:

The Boathouse at Strouds Run, 10735 State Park Road, Athens, OH 45701

Burr Oak State Park

Located east of the Hocking Hills region (about an hour’s drive from Hocking Hills State Park), Burr Oak State Park is a picturesque place to canoe and fish. 

Burr Oak Lake is a 664-acre interestingly-shaped lake with a beautiful forested shoreline and coves to explore. It was formed by the damming of Sunday Creek.

There’s plenty of wildlife to see, including bald eagles, and the lake is also great for bass fishing. 

There are several launch ramps around the lake, providing good access for kayaking and canoeing. 

Seasonal boat rentals are available at the Burr Oak Lodge from mid-April through mid-October. 

Class of Rapids rating:

N/A – flatwater lake, easy 

Where to launch & How to get there:

Boat Launch, 10660 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Glouster, OH 45732

Hocking Hills Wildlife

Wildlife is abundant in Hocking Hills so you are likely to see some of the resident wildlife during your trip. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, barred owls, barn owls, and wild turkeys can all be spotted if you look carefully. 

Bald eagles can also be seen around Lake Logan and Burr Oak Lake. 

There are black bears in Hocking Hills but they are rarely seen.

Other Activities In Hocking Hills


The Hocking Hills is home to some of the darkest skies in the state, making it one of the best places to check out the night sky without almost no light pollution. 

This means you can see thousands of stars as well as galaxies, nebulae, and many of the planets in our solar system without the need for a telescope.

The John Glenn Astronomy Park in Hocking Hills State Park offers free programs for stargazing on selected nights throughout the year.


There are numerous opportunities for camping in Hocking Hills. Whether you’re looking for a campground with all the usual facilities or you want to rough it on a primitive campsite, you’ll find it in and around Hocking Hills.


There are several miles of trails to explore the historic Hocking Hills on foot, including the famous Buckeye Trail that loops over 1,440 miles around the state.

You’ll find mystical rock formations, towering bluffs, and stunning waterfalls.

There are many geological features that are best explored on foot and can often be missed when paddling. I highly recommend visiting Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Conkles Hollow, and the intriguing Rock House Cavern.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Hocking Hills

  • Hocking Hills Adventures – Hocking Hills Adventures is located in Logan and offers river tours along the Hocking River. There are two self-guided canoeing trips to choose from: the Crockett’s Run Tour and the Natural Rockbridge Trip. Both trips include canoe rental and are ideal for families and beginners, taking around two to three hours to complete.
  • Hocking Hills Canoe Livery – Hocking Hills Canoe Livery is located in Logan. You can rent kayaks and canoes to explore the Hocking River at your own pace. You can also arrange river trips for Crockett’s Run (1.5 hours) or Rockbridge (2-3 hours), where you will be transported to the launch site by shuttle and paddle back to the livery.
  • Adventure Pro Outdoors – Adventure Pro Outdoors is based in Nelsonville and provides self-guided river trips on the Hocking River. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes. For river trips and rentals, the minimum age for children is six years old. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Lake Logan Marina – Lake Logan Marina is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Logan and offers kayak and paddleboard rentals. You can rent kayaks and paddleboards by the hour, with a minimum rental period of two hours. There are no tours on Lake Logan so you can plan your trip and paddle at your own pace. 
  • The Boathouse – The Boathouse at Strouds Run State Park offers canoe and kayak rental, including both single and tandem kayaks. You can also hire a paddleboard. Rentals are available hourly for a minimum of two hours. Guided tours are not available. 
  • Burr Oak Lodge – Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center has a marina where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and other boats for exploring Burr Oak Lake. Rentals are seasonal.
  • Burr Oak Getaways – Burr Oak Getaways offers kayaks and canoes for hire on Burr Oak Lake. These rentals are by reservation only and the outfitter delivers the boats to you at Dock 2 at the lake. Rentals are available from two to eight hours.
  • Touch The Earth Adventures – Touch the Earth Adventures offers guided tours for both day trips and multi-day trips on the scenic Hocking River and various other locations, including other states. Trips can be customized to suit groups and individuals. Prior paddling experience is generally required for the Hocking River trip.

Hocking Hills Adventures: Kayak Trip Idea

If you want to relax on a short trip on the Hocking River, my recommendation for a casual canoe or kayaking trip is the four-mile route from Rockbridge to Logan. 

This short route is ideal for beginners and can be paddled easily in a canoe. More experienced paddlers are able to continue downstream past the Falls Mill takeout for a longer trip through Wayne National Forest. From Falls Mill it’s around 15 miles to Nelsonville.

Check out the Hocking River access points for other put-ins and takeouts. 

This trip lets you begin on calm waters with the chance to cross the river to hike the short distance to the natural rockbridge. The hiking trail can be found on the riverbank opposite the launch.

Launch here, at the Rockbridge Nature Preserve. Paddle through a natural landscape with wildlife viewing opportunities along the way. You can stop on sandbars if you need to rest, so remember to bring snacks and water. 

Your trip will end at the Falls Mill Bridge, with the exit on your right just before the bridge.

Best Seasons To Visit Hocking Hills

Kayaking season in Hocking Hills tends to be from spring through fall. Local outfitters are generally seasonal so they will usually close during the winter. 

Winters can be very cold and the lakes will usually freeze over, making kayaking and canoeing impossible. However, this weather offers different activities, including ice skating and ice fishing.

> Kayaking tips for winter

Summer can often be a busy time for a canoeing or paddling trip, especially on holidays and weekends.

To avoid the crowds and the summer heat, I recommend kayaking or canoeing in Hocking Hills during the fall. This is when you can see some of nature’s best displays of color, with the fall foliage creating a picture-perfect backdrop for your paddling adventures.

Hocking Hills Kayaking Safety Tips

  • Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). This can save your life when worn. One suitable life jacket is required per person on a kayak or canoe. All children under the age of 10 must wear a PFD at all times.
  • Kayaks must be registered – All kayaks in Ohio need to be registered with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources). Find out how to register a kayak in Ohio.
  • Pack bug spray and apply sunscreen in summer.
  • Take enough food and water for your canoe trip.
  • Don’t paddle in waters that are unsuitable for your skill level.
  • Plan your route and let someone on land know when you’ll return from your trip.

Final Words

Hocking Hills has a lot to offer when it comes to exploring by canoe or boat. 

With forested hillsides that change color with the seasons and tranquil waters that can help you relax, kayaking and canoeing can be one of the best ways to experience this unique and historic landscape. 

However, there’s also plenty to see and do on land if you don’t want the adventure to end. 

Whether you come in spring, summer, or fall, there’s an adventurous canoe trip waiting for you in this neck of the woods.

You ca also read more in our Ohio kayaking places guide.

Hocking Hills Kayaking - Pinterest ImagePin

Leave a Comment