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Portage River Water Trail Designated as Ohio’s 17th State Water Trail

ODNR program promotes safe routes for paddlers, access to river communities, and recreational sites

OAK HARBOR, Ohio  – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz designated the Portage River Water Trail today as the 17th official water trail in the State of Ohio. This brings the total number of miles of designated water trails to more than 1,000.

“This trail provides even more exceptional opportunities for people to explore our state from the water,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Whether you’re looking for a scenic kayak trip down the trail, a perfect place to cast a line, or a spot to soak in the sights and sounds of nature; this trail offers all that and more.”

The 36-mile stretch of the Portage River winds through Wood, Ottawa, and Sandusky Counties. Paddlers, birders, anglers, and nature enthusiasts can connect with local parks and businesses by using one of the 12 access points between Pemberville and Port Clinton.

Efforts to obtain a “state water trail” designation for the Portage River began in 2019. With assistance from the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, stakeholders in the Portage River Watershed formed a partnership to work collaboratively on the project. The partnership included the City of Port Clinton, the Friends of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, the Oak Harbor Development Group, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores and Islands, the Ohio Sea Grant, the Ottawa County Commissioners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the village of Elmore, the village of Oak Harbor, the village of Pemberville, the village of Woodville, and the Wood County Park District.

“We're thrilled to be able to offer this new resource for people in our region," said Ottawa County Commissioner Mark Coppeler, chair of TMACOG's Portage River Basin Council. "The new water trail creates so many opportunities to experience everything the Portage River and the communities along its banks have to offer."

The Ohio Water Trails program was created to promote public awareness to paddling access while working with local communities to develop water trails throughout the state of Ohio. The trails are planned on the local level with ODNR partnering with communities, user groups, park districts, and others.

Ohio’s diverse system of water trails is statewide. Among others, it includes the Blanchard, Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Kokosing, Mahoning, Maumee, and Olentangy rivers. These water trails pass through a variety of surroundings including natural, rural, suburban, and urban areas. Here's a full list of Ohio’s designated water trails.

ODNR recommends that paddlers check weather conditions before getting on the water and always wear a life jacket. Learn more about how to keep yourself and others safe while paddling.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov