Many aren’t aware that northeast Ohio is a haven for water recreation opportunities, and it’s only going to improve in the near future! Let’s take a look at the many great options for kayaking and canoeing in Youngstown – for visitors and residents alike!
The Mahoning River
At one time, the Mahoning River corridor was the original highway through Mahoning County, utilized by steel companies throughout the Valley. Multiple low-head dams once dotted the course of the river, providing water to the steel mills, which interrupted the river’s natural flow.
But now, with the ongoing dam removal project, new economic development and recreational opportunities are opening up on the Mahoning River!
Two of those dams, located in Struthers and Lowellville, have been removed and there is now an unobstructed three-mile stretch of the Mahoning River that’s perfect for kayakers and canoers!
In Lowellville, a new Water Front Park and Livery on West Water Street includes a launch ramp, parking and restrooms. Meanwhile, in Struthers, city officials recently cut the ribbon on the new boat launch area. From Poland Ave. in Struthers, turn onto the Walton St. bridge, then turn right on Casey Dr. Turn right onto Bob Cene Way, cross the bridge over the river and the parking and river access area will be immediately on your right.
The Mahoning River Dam Removal Project
The dam removal project has its origins in the mid-1990s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) first undertook a dredging project that removed contaminated sediment from a 31-mile stretch of the lower Mahoning River, from Warren to the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line.
Today’s dam removals are coordinated with the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, securing sponsorship and funding from Ohio government agencies, such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Mill Creek MetroParks
Long considered to be the green jewel of the Mahoning Valley, Mill Creek Park is a longtime favorite of local kayakers.
It’s important to note that not all waterways and lakes in Mill Creek Park allow boats – watercraft are only permitted on Lake Newport and Lake Glacier. The lakes are open to boating from March 1 – November 30, and all boats must be ashore by 6:30 p.m. Boaters can take advantage of the newly remodeled boat launch area at Lake Newport, located off of East Newport Drive.
*Currently, the Lake Newport Boathouse is temporarily closed so boaters will have to supply their own canoes or kayaks. The Lake Glacier Boathouse is open Saturdays & Sundays from 10am-5pm through Labor Day weekend. Pedal boats and kayaks are available for rent. For more information, call 330-740-7114 ext. 289.
Lake Milton has enjoyed the designation of being a state park since 1988, but the 1,685-acre lake has existed since 1913 when a dam was completed on the Mahoning River to provide water for the city of Youngstown.
In addition to kayaks and canoes, watercraft such as pontoon boats and jet skis are permitted on Lake Milton, with no horsepower limit. Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has also become increasingly popular at Lake Milton. Three boat launch areas are available: Mahoning Ave. at the causeway over the lake, Pointview Rd. and Jersey St. In-season rentals are offered at the Meshel Park area on the east side of the lake, 16897 Milton Ave. Call 330-654-4991 for rental information and reservations, or visit the West Branch Marina website.
The Berlin Lake project was completed in 1943 as part of flood control measures for the Mahoning River Valley, creating the fifth-largest inland lake in Ohio.
Due to its large size, Berlin Lake has plenty of calm, no-wake zones accessible to kayakers and canoers. There are boat launch areas on both the northeast and southwest shores of the lake.
Mahoning County Kayak & Canoe Rentals
Want to take a trip out onto the water but don’t have your own kayak, canoe or paddle board? Don’t worry, because there are several local businesses that have kayak rentals covered.
Mahoning Paddle & Pedal
Mahoning Paddle & Pedal is located in Lowellville – perfect for getting right over to the new Water Front Park. They offer single kayaks, bicycles, and even a shuttle service if you own your own kayak or canoe and want it transported to a boat launch area!
The KayaKing is located in Struthers, and offers kayak rentals, as well as kayak tours of Lake Glacier, Lake Newport, and the Mahoning River. There is also a kayak storage service to house your kayak during the winter months!
Bare Feet Kayak Rentals
Also located in Struthers, Bare Feet Kayak Rentals offers both kayak rentals and a kayak drop-off and pick-up service at the launch spot of your choice.
*Note that these services do not transport individuals, only the watercraft. It’s up to you to transport yourself and your party to the arranged location!
Get On the Water
Mahoning County has many great spots for paddlers, and it’s only going to get better! More dams are slated for removal along the Mahoning River, so as the dam removal project progresses, there will be even more of the river open for unobstructed paddling! Get out on the water this summer and have some fun kayaking or canoeing in Youngstown!
*When partaking in any water sports, safety is paramount. Always be sure to follow relevant laws and regulations, and never paddle alone–always bring a partner! For specific information and questions, you can reference the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website. Most importantly, have a thorough understanding of your skill level, and plan your canoe or kayak adventure accordingly. For example, some sections of the lower Mahoning River are not currently recommended for beginners.
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