Fall Overnight Paddling Trip on the Little Miami River

Written by Dan S. / Great Miami Outfitters
Photos by Krista S.

The Little Miami River earned the distinction of becoming Ohio’s first designated State Scenic River in April 1969. From its headwaters in Clark County, the Little Miami flows southwesterly for more than 100 miles, traversing five counties before arriving at its confluence with the Ohio River. The Little Miami River was the first Ohio stream to also be designated as a National Scenic River. It’s noted for breathtaking vistas and scenery, the Little Miami River supports rich and abundant aquatic life. More than 87 species of fish, 36 species of mussels (including five state endangered species) and numerous species of breeding birds reside within the river valley.

I started planning for an overnight fall paddling trip last spring and wanted to paddle a stretch of a nearby river that I had not paddled before for a group of 5 to ten paddlers! Since I have paddled sections of the Little Miami River for years, I researched areas that fit my criteria. A few of the important considerations when choosing the route was finding relatively easy put-in and take-out access points, camping sites, and a stretch with little or no other paddlers.

Online research helped me tremendously and led me to a 23.5 mile stretch just above Caesars Creek and down to Maineville, Ohio. Both the put-in and take-out locations are ODNR canoe/kayak launch sites with ample parking. Morgan’s Riverside Campground looked ideal for an overnight stay since it was ten miles from the starting point, and there are campsites right at the river’s edge. Just to ensure that this section of the river would be suitable, I hopped in the car and checked out the locations.

Everything checked out great, so I picked a date in September and got it on the calendar. Fast-forward to two days before the planned trip and we had torrential rains and flood warnings… okay, so I can’t control the weather. No problem. Rescheduled for mid-October.

Our original group size for the first date was going to consist of nine paddlers – some kayakers, some canoeists – but when the date got postponed to a later date there were some date conflicts, so the group size shrunk to five paddlers.

We met at the Caesar Creek Access just north of Middletown Road. After dropping off boats and gear, shuttling to the take-out access to park a few vehicles, and returning to the put-in site, we were able to get on the water at 11:00 AM. Weather started out cloudy, with temperature in the mid-40s with sunshine forecast for the afternoon and a high in the mid-50s.

Floating under the Corwin W. Nixon covered bridge.

The first bridge we floated under was the old Corwin W. Nixon covered bridge just south of Waynesville, Ohio. Since I was the lead canoe, I flushed out the first blue heron as we chased him down the river all day. The confluence of Caesar Creek into the Little Miami River was just around the corner. Be sure to check before starting this stretch to make sure that Caesar Creek Lake is not discharging, as this can make some hazardous river conditions.

Who knew we would pass Hooterville?
We knew once we saw this cairn that we were going the right way.

The rest of the day we enjoyed partly sunny skies with sightings of a bald eagle and ospreys as we floated down this beautiful stretch of river, passing under only 3 more bridges. We stopped for a quick lunch on a rocky shoal just south of the I-71 bridge. Our campsite was ten miles down the river just before the Strout Road bridge in Morrow, Ohio. We arrived about 3:00 PM, giving us plenty of time to set up camp, start a campfire, and prepare a jambalaya dinner. The overnight forecast called for a low of 37, and there was some debate, depending on the source, as to whether it would rain or not.

Preparing a hearty jambalaya dinner at camp.

Fortunately the temperature only went down to about 45, but we did get light rain from about 4 to 7 AM. Rain had stopped in the morning giving us time to enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast before breaking down camp.

The second day we would paddle about 13.5 miles to our take-out access in Maineville. We began paddling about 10:00 AM and saw more houses on this day along the river as we floated through or near Morrow, South Lebanon and Kings Mill, Ohio. The skies remained cloudy and when we stopped for lunch it seemed to be cooler than when we started.

A blue heron waiting to be chased down the river.

We passed a few people fishing and paddled through various riffles. The day was relaxing as we once again chased blue herons down the river, and spotted a few more ospreys. About 3:00 PM it started to drizzle a light mist until we finally arrived at the take-out about 4:00 PM. After loading the boats, we headed around the corner to the Monkey Bar Grill to dry out and grab a quick drink to warm us up.

If you’d like more detailed information about this trip, email me at dan@greatmiamioutfitters and I’d be happy to answer your questions.



6 thoughts on “Fall Overnight Paddling Trip on the Little Miami River

    1. There were two solo canoes. The red one is a 2017 Northstar Phoenix at 14′-6″ and the green one is a 2012 Wenonah Wilderness at 14′-6.” Hope that helps!


    2. There were two solo canoes. The red one is a 2017 Northstar Phoenix at 14′-6″ and the green one is a 2012 Wenonah Wilderness at 14′-6.” Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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