Would you like to join one of the largest paddling fleets in the United States? This weekend is your big chance.
Ohio River Paddlefest is hosting two paddling adventures, the 9-mile Paddlefest Classic and the 4.5-mile Paddlefest Mini on Saturday, August 6th. The event features nearly 2,000 paddlers each year with a mix of rented watercraft and those bringing their own. But even if you’re not in the water, Paddlefest weekend has something for everyone who loves the great outdoors.
Paddlefest benefits and is organized by Adventure Crew, a local non-profit organization focused on connecting city-dwelling teens with the outdoors for free. The group works with schools to offer students from Cincinnati Public School, as well as students from other high schools across the area, one Saturday each month with a different outdoor adventure—from hiking to kayaking to rock climbing and more.
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“The majority of the students we serve are underrepresented in outdoor settings,” said Miriam Wise, Adventure Crew’s director of support and engagement.
Paddlefest was considered by the American Canoe Association to have the largest fleet of paddlers. Wise said that next year Paddlefest hopes to officially make it into the Guinness Book of Records for the largest gathering.
Here’s everything you need to know about Ohio River Paddlefest 2022.
When and where is Paddlefest?
- Paddlers must be in the water by 8:30 a.m. Saturday, August 6 at the Schmidt Recreation Complex, 2944 Humbert Ave., East End.
To paddle leisurely down the Ohio River as part of Paddlefest, the 9-mile course costs $75 and the 4.5-mile course costs $70. If you want to rent something to paddle in, single kayaks are still available. But signing up sooner or later to rent one is the safest bet.
Boats can be dropped off on Friday evenings from 4pm to 8pm or on the day of paddling. The journey for the 9-mile and 4.5-mile routes begins at the Schmidt Recreation Complex (2944 Humbert Ave., East End), and there are shuttles from both locations back to the complex at the end of the race, with some parking any place.
To register for recreational paddling, go to ohioriverpaddlefest.org/registration.
Want to race at Paddlefest?
- The race begins on Saturday, August 6th at 7am at the Schmidt Recreation Complex.
Run 4.2 miles from the start to Covington or ride the entire 9-mile route to the finish. Registration for the race is $75 for the 4.2-mile Roebling race and $80 for the 9-mile Seven Bridges race. On Friday at 18:30 there will be a skills session that can be added to the online registration for the race.
To register for the race, go to ohioriverpaddlefest.org/races.
What is the Outdoors for All Expo?
- Friday, August 5 from 4pm to 9:30pm at the Schmidt Recreation Complex.
Even if you’re not racing, there are still plenty of paddling-themed festivities to attend. Check out the Expo event at the Schmidt Recreation Complex on Friday, August 5 from 4pm to 9:30pm where you can find everything that interests those who love the great outdoors: adventure experts, outdoor gear swaps, representatives from environmental organizations and more. There will also be music, local beer, food trucks, sweepstakes and activities for “little explorers”.
The event is free for everyone. For parking, participants not returning boats for the next day should park on an adjacent street or at Riverview East Academy, where you can follow the Ohio River Trail directly into the recreation complex’s park.
And if you like fishing, you can join the new Paddlefest bass fishing event. You can arrive at lower Little Miami and the Ohio River from 6:00 a.m., and at 8:00 p.m. there will be weigh-ins and awards at the fair.
Music program of the Outdoor for All Expo:
- 4 p.m., Gabbard & Co.
- 5:30 p.m. Tracy Walker.
- 7:30 p.m., the Tillers.
Want to see Paddlefest go by?
- The best time is between 9:30am and 10:30am on Saturday 6th August.
If you’re not ready to paddle, you can still get up early, grab a coffee, and head down to the river to watch 1,500 boats make their way down the Ohio River. Wise recommends watching from the Serpentine Wall or the Downtown Bridges. The best time to watch is between 9:30am and 10:30am
Do you want to go to the Finish Line Festival?
- 9am-2pm Saturday, August 6, at the Gilday Recreation Complex, 3540 Southside Ave., Riverside.
If you make it to the Gilday Recreation Complex (3540 Southside Ave., Riverside) you can grab a MadTree beer, food truck and music from the Subburners to celebrate the end of another gathering of the largest paddling fleet in the United States.