Kayaking In Cleveland – The Best Spots For Paddling!

Being on the shores of one of the Great Lakes, finding a good place to go kayaking in Cleveland should be pretty easy. As well as the expansive Lake Erie, there are many rivers, streams and lakes that can be ideal for a paddling trip.

Whether you’re just starting out kayaking or you’re looking for a peaceful spot to escape the crowds and experience nature, we have put together a guide to some places we think you should check out.

5 Best Places To Kayak In Cleveland

1: Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River Kayaking
Courtesy: Cuyahoga jco on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Cuyahoga River flows for 100 miles from Burton, Ohio through downtown Cleveland and into Lake Erie. There are five sections that make up the Cuyahoga River Water Trail.

Sections four and five of the water trail can be easily accessed from Cleveland, with section four beginning in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and section five ending at Lake Erie in Cleveland.

There are several put-ins and take-outs along the trail, with five of them within Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If you’re looking for a good spot for beginners, the put-in at Boston Store Trailhead can be ideal. You can paddle calm water along to Red Lock Trailhead with or continue to the take-out at Station Road Bridge.

2: Rocky River

Rocky River Kayaking
Courtesy: Tim Evanson on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Rocky River can be a great spot to paddle if you’re looking for a peaceful trip through natural scenery with shale cliffs and lots of wildlife. The river can also be a fantastic spot for fishing, particularly for trout. It has even been considered in the top 150 fishing locations in the United States.

There’s a kayak launch at Scenic Park within the Rocky River Reservation, where you can also rent kayaks.

The river features flatwater and can be ideal for all skill levels. You can even paddle along to Lake Erie and back. As you get closer to the lake, keep an eye out for other water users, as there are motorized vessels on the river.

3: Put-in Bay

Put-in Bay Kayaking
Courtesy: PAT at JUNO on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Put-in Bay is located on South Bass Island, one of the many islands off the coast of Ohio on Lake Erie. Put-in Bay can be accessed by ferry and can be a great spot to launch your kayak if you want to paddle around the bay and explore the island.

The bay is generally calm and can be ideal for all skill levels, although there can be a lot of motorized boat traffic, particularly in the busy summer season.

There is a nature preserve at the north end of the island if you want to check out the local flora and fauna, or you can choose to paddle over to Gibraltar Island to checkout its limestone cliffs.

There are a number of spots where you can launch, including at Oak Point State Park and on the southwest side of the island at South Bass Island State Park. You can also rent kayaks at both of these locations.

4: West Branch State Park

West Branch State Park Kayaking  Cleveland

West Branch State Park is located about an hour’s drive southwest of Cleveland. The park surrounds the Michael J Kirwan Reservoir, which has lots of feeder creeks, coves and inlets that can be explored by kayak.

There are several spots where you can launch your kayak, including both the north and south shores just off of Rock Spring Road. You can even rent kayaks at the marina if you don’t have your own.

The lake has no motor limit, so there can be a lot of other boat traffic during the summer months. But if you’re looking for a more peaceful paddle, the west side of Rock Spring Road is a no-wake zone, so this area can be better if you’re new to kayaking.

The lake can also be good for fishing.

5: Edgewater Park

Edgewater Park Kayaking Cleveland
Courtesy: Erik Drost on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Edgewater Park can be a great spot if you want to launch your kayak into Lake Erie. This Cleveland park has plenty of parking and picnic areas. If you can launch from the beach or from the public boat ramp. You can also rent kayaks from the beach.

If you’re looking to explore the Cleveland coastline and get great views of the city, this can be a fantastic spot to launch. Paddling northeast from the park you can check out the Cleveland skyline, including the Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Remember, when you’re paddling on Lake Erie you need to follow the US Coast Guard regulations regarding PFDs, lights and Visual Distress Signals if you’re paddling before sunrise or after sunset.

What Are The Kayak Laws?

US Coast Guard

When kayaking in Cleveland you will need to follow Ohio state laws and particularly if you’re paddling on Lake Erie you will need to follow federal laws.

  • PFDs - a wearable PFD is required for every person on board a kayak. The PFD must be in good condition and be a suitable size for the wearer.
  • All children aged 9 and under must wear a correctly sized US Coast Guard approved PFD at all times while on a kayak.
  • All kayaks and canoes on Ohio waters must be registered.
  • It is against the law to operate a kayak while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol level limit is 0.08% if you’re 21 years or over and 0.02% if you’re underage.
  • It is illegal to drop or dispose of litter in any waterway in Ohio.
  • If kayaking at night remember to carry a flashlight or have a white light on your kayak
  • Visual Distress Signals will also be required if paddling on Lake Erie between sunset and sunrise. This can be an electric distress light.
  • A sound producing device, such as a whistle, is required to be carried on board your kayak.

Kayak Rentals And Tours Around Cleveland

Final Words

There are plenty of exciting places to go kayaking in Cleveland without having to travel too far. Remember, if you have your own kayak it needs to be registered before you take it out on the water.

Keep your PFD easily accessible (ideally wear it) and make sure you follow the regulations for where you choose to paddle.

Where is your favorite spot to paddle in Cleveland? Let us know, and if you found this helpful, share it.

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