We envision two segments of the Ohio River Recreation Trail covering 274 miles from Portsmouth, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky.

Section A:  115 miles from Portsmouth (Ohio River Mile 356) to Cincinnati (Ohio River Mile 471) including the Meldahl and Markland U.S. Army Corps pools

Section B:   159 miles from Cincinnati (Ohio River Mile 471) to Louisville (Ohio River Mile 630) including the Markland, McAlpine and Cannelton pools

This initiative is being spearheaded by two organizations which have been involved with Ohio River recreation, education and community engagement.  In Cincinnati, committee members organize the annual Ohio River Paddlefest, the largest paddling event in the United States sponsored by Adventure Crew, Outdoors for All.  In Louisville, the River City Paddle Sports staff based at the Louisville Community Boat House host river and creek education and adventure programs and the Mayors Hike Bike and Paddle.

Our all-volunteer planning team has been invited by the U.S. National Park Service to apply for a technical assistance partnership to help us plan and build out the Trail following standards as identified in the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. We are expanding our team to include representatives from river communities, boating, cycling and paddling organizations/businesses, travel and tourism bureaus, river-based businesses, federal, state and local agencies, economic development officials, entertainment venues, etc.

The Ohio River Recreation Trail will…

  1. Promote tourism, safety, respect for private lands, and Leave No Trace (TM) ethics while facilitating both long distance and local paddling, sailing, power boating, fishing, and cycling along the Ohio River.
  2. Provide increased access to the Ohio River by collaborating with local governments, recreation organizations, and commercial user groups.
  3. Coordinate with county and municipal travel and tourism entities to ensure the largest possible impact on retail, lodging and food sales while providing a high-quality experience for paddlers, cyclists, anglers, and boaters. 
  4. Work with the state wildlife and natural resources agencies in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio to promote Ohio River fishing, boating, hunting, cycling, bird watching, and nature appreciation.

Current initiatives

There are two initiatives underway to promote the Ohio River Recreational Trail:

  1. The development of a digital guide for the Ohio River, which you can view here: The digital guide to the Ohio River. The original digital guide was developed for the Ohio River Paddlefest and focuses on the 9 miles of the Ohio River near Cincinnati. It is our intent to expand and enhance the digital guide for 250 miles from Cincinnati to Louisville.
  2. Recently, a group completed a collaborative paddle from Portsmouth Ohio to Louisville on 250 miles of the Ohio River. The Ohio River Voyageur Canoe trip was from June 1-9, 2019, where the group was able to interact with and document river towns, historical sites, and ecological features.

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