Here's a thought that makes the world smaller: An Ohioan with a boat can go from Cleveland to Cape Town or, for a shorter trip, from Clintonville to Cancun. Water has always been our outlet to the world -- and one of the best ways into the state's lovely interior.
That's the case on the Kokosing River Water Trail, a river mapped and improved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The 28-mile stretch running from Mt. Vernon to the Mohican River is a great way to christen your new boat. [Water trail story]
Kokosing River Water Trail Knox and Coshocton counties 614-265-6484 Homepage
Along the way, you'll definitely see the ODNR improvements. There are easily accessible put-ins, marked hazards and bathrooms at key spots. If you're looking for a relaxing paddle with clean water and great bass fishing, this is your river.
Set up camp at Kokosing Valley Camp and Canoe. Friendly owners offer numerous campsites, a full camp store and plenty of river experience. They run trips for those with or without their own boats.
We got escorted up and down the river with our own canoe over two days for $35. Our primitive site was $22.
Here's more from our trip.
View larger image My roommate Daniel and I put in at Big Run Road, at the end of the water trail's first third. Part of the ODNR work is creating these easy access points. This one had a picnic area and bathrooms.
View larger image Here you see the lone paddler we saw on Friday. If you're used to big crowds on Big Darby Creek or the Mohican River, you won't find them here.
View larger image The river keeps a nice width the entire way through the water trail -- not scary big or bottom-out small. It's lined with sycamores, oaks, maples and bright white beeches.
View larger image Short riffles are common and rarely intimidating. Even in a 1968 Starcraft canoe, we were fine almost all the time.
View larger image Wide blue sky unfolds beneath a tract of good old-fashioned Ohio farmland. You'll definitely get some sun on a four-hour trip, and the scenery never gets old.
View larger image Some basic navigation skills are required in several sections. While it never gets over class II, the water trail includes two or three rapids that most people choose to portage. We ran them and were fine.
View larger image Numerous access points between Mt. Vernon and the Mohican River mean you can get to your favorite fishing hole without much trouble. Here a few guys hit bass and cats.
View larger image Random homesteads pop into view on the banks. This one looks really nice.