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Ohio's Scenic Rivers Program
Ohio's Scenic Rivers Program

The mission of the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program is to work cooperatively with local governments, businesses, landowners, non-profit organizations and other state and federal agencies to protect the aquatic resources and terrestrial communities dependent on healthy riparian habitats. Ohio currently has 15 designated Wild, Scenic and/or Recreational rivers comprising 27 stream segments. More than 830 river miles are protected in the Ohio scenic river system. Three state-designated streams the Little Miami River, Big and Little Darby Creeks, and Little Beaver Creek are also designated as National Scenic Rivers.

List of Ohio's Scenic Rivers

ASHTABULA RIVER

Designated Scenic on October 30, 2008.

  • Ashtabula River from the confluence of the East Branch and West Branch of the Ashtabula River at river mile 27.54, downstream to the East 24th Street Bridge crossing at river mile 2.3.
  • East Branch of the Ashtabula River from Pennline Fen at river mile 12.0, downstream to the mouth of the East Branch.
  • West Branch of the Ashtabula River from the North Richmond Road (County Road 302) bridge crossing at river mile 9.05, downstream to the mouth of the West Branch.

Miles designated (approximate): 46

BIG AND LITTLE DARBY CREEKS

Designated Scenic on June 22, 1984 and October 3, 1994.

  • Big Darby Creek from the Champaign-Union County line downstream to the US Route 40 Bridge, from the northern boundary of Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park to the confluence with the Little Darby Creek downstream to the Scioto River.
  • Little Darby Creek from the Lafayette-Plain City Road Bridge downstream to the confluence with Big Darby Creek.

Miles designated (approximate): 84

In March 1994, the Big and Little Darby Creeks were designated a component of the National Wild and Scenic River System:

  • Big Darby Creek from the Champaign-Union County line downstream to the Conrail railroad trestle and from the confluence with the Little Darby Creek downstream to the Scioto River.
  • Little Darby Creek from the Lafayette-Plain City Road Bridge downstream to within .8 mile from the confluence with Big Darby Creek.

Total national designation is approximately 82 miles.

CHAGRIN RIVER

Designated on two occasions.

July 2, 1979 – 49 river miles designated as Scenic:

  • Aurora Branch from the State Route 82 bridge crossing for a distance of 12 miles downstream to the confluence with the main stem of the Chagrin River.
  • East Branch from the Heath Road bridge crossing for a distance of 23 miles downstream to the confluence with the main stem of the Chagrin River.
  • Chagrin River from the confluence with the Aurora Branch for a distance of 15 miles downstream to the US Route 6 bridge crossing.

November 10, 2002 – 22 river miles designated as Scenic:

  • Chagrin River headwaters from the Woodiebrook Road bridge for a distance of 22 miles downstream to the confluence with the Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River in Bentleyville.

Miles designated: 71

CONNEAUT CREEK

Designated on October 6, 2005.

Wild segment

  • a total distance of 16.44 miles from the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line at river mile 23.93 downstream to the Creek Road bridge crossing at river mile 7.39.

Scenic segment

  • a total distance of 5.39 miles from the Creek Road bridge crossing at river mile 7.39, downstream to the Penn Central Railroad bridge crossing (known locally as “The Arches”) at river mile 2.0.

Miles designated: Wild – 16.44; Scenic – 5.39

GRAND RIVER

Designated Wild and Scenic on January 17, 1974.

Wild segment

  • Harpersfield covered bridge downstream to Norfolk and Western Railroad trestle south of Painesville.

Scenic segment

  • State Route 322 bridge in Ashtabula County downstream to Harpersfield covered bridge.

Miles designated (approximate): Wild – 23; Scenic - 33

KOKOSING RIVER

Designated Scenic on November 4, 1997.

  • Knox/Morrow County line to confluence with Mohican River.
  • North Branch of Kokosing from confluence with East Branch downstream to confluence with main stem.

Miles designated (approximate): 48

LITTLE BEAVER CREEK

Designated Wild and Scenic on January 15, 1974.

Wild segments

  • West Fork from 1/4 mile downstream from Township Road 914 to confluence with Middle Fork.
  • North Fork from Township Road 952 to confluence with Little Beaver Creek.
  • Little Beaver Creek from confluence of West and Middle Forks downstream to 3/4 mile north of Grimm's Bridge.

Scenic segments

  • North Fork from Ohio-Pennsylvania line downstream to Jackman Road.
  • Middle Fork from Elkton Road (Township Road 901) downstream to confluence with West Fork.
  • Little Beaver Creek from 3/4 mile north of Grimm's Bridge downstream to the Ohio-Pennsylvania line.

Miles designated (approximate): Wild – 20; Scenic -16

In October, 1975, Little Beaver Creek was designated a component of the National Wild and Scenic River System:

  • Little Beaver Creek main stem, from confluence of West Fork with Middle Fork near Williamsport to mouth;
  • North Fork from confluence of Brush Run and North Fork to confluence of North Fork with main stem at Fredericktown;
  • Middle Fork from vicinity of Township Road 901 (Elkton Road) bridge crossing to confluence of Middle Fork with West Fork near Williamsport;
  • West Fork from vicinity of Township Road 914 (Y-Camp Road) bridge crossing east to confluence of West Fork with Middle Fork near Williamsport.

Total national designation is approximately 33 miles.

LITTLE MIAMI RIVER

Designated Scenic on 3 separate dates:

  • April 23, 1969 - Clermont County line at Loveland to headwaters, including North Fork.
  • September 19, 1969 - Clermont County line at Loveland to confluence with East Fork.
  • October 27, 1971 - from confluence with East Fork to Ohio River.

Miles designated (approximate): 105

In August 1973, the Little Miami was designated a Scenic component of the National System from Clifton to Foster. In January 1980, the portion from Foster to the Ohio River was designated a Recreational component of the National system. Total national designation is 92 miles.

MAUMEE RIVER

Designated Scenic and Recreational on July 18, 1974.

Scenic segment

  • Ohio-Indiana line to State Route 24 bridge west of Defiance.

Recreational segment

  • State Route 24 bridge west of Defiance to US Route 25 bridge near Perrysburg.

Miles designated (approximate): Scenic – 43; Recreational – 53

MOHICAN RIVER

Two segments of the Mohican River were designated as Scenic in December 2006

  • The Clear Fork of the Mohican River from the base of the Pleasant Hill Dam to the confluence with the Black Fork of the Mohican River - 4.8 river miles.
  • The entire main stem of the Mohican River from the confluence of the Clear Fork to the confluence with the Kokosing State Scenic River - 27.5 miles

Miles designated (approximate): 32

OLENTANGY RIVER

Designated Scenic on August 24, 1973.

  • Delaware Dam to Old Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington.

Miles designated (approximate): 22

PYMATUNING CREEK

Designated December 17, 2018.

Wild segment

  • Ayers Road in Ashtabula County downstream to river mile 4.7 in Trumbull County for 27.9 river miles.

Scenic segment

  • From river mile 4.7 downstream to the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line for 2.76 river miles.

Miles designated: 30.66 river miles.

SANDUSKY RIVER

Designated Scenic on January 5, 1970.

  • US Route 30 in Upper Sandusky to Roger Young Memorial Park in Fremont.

Miles designated (approximate): 65

STILLWATER RIVER SYSTEM

Designated Recreational July 1, 1975; designated Scenic October 14, 1980 and April 27, 1982.

Recreational segment

  • Englewood dam to confluence with Great Miami River.

Scenic segments

  • Stillwater River from Riffle Road bridge in Darke County to Englewood dam.
  • Greenville Creek from the Ohio-Indiana state line to the confluence with the Stillwater.

Miles designated (approximate): Scenic – 83; Recreational – 10

UPPER CUYAHOGA RIVER

Designated Scenic on June 26, 1974.

  • Troy-Burton Township line in Geauga County to US Route 14.

Miles designated (approximate): 25

What the Classifications Mean

The three different classifications  Wild, Scenic, and Recreational  are a means to recognize the unique characteristics of a stream so that river preservation activities among diverse state and local governments, organizations, and individuals can be coordinated. When combined with statutory authority to review and approve publicly funded projects on designated rivers, designation helps ensure that decisions and activities that may impact a river are conducted in an environmentally sensitive and responsible manner.

Wild: Wild rivers are generally inaccessible, the flood plain is undeveloped, the river is free flowing, and 75 percent of the adjacent corridor is forested to a depth of at least 300 feet.

Scenic: Scenic river designation is representative of a waterway that retains much of its natural character for the majority of its length. Shorelines are, for the most part, undeveloped, but the river may exhibit signs of disturbance by human activities. The adjacent corridor must be forested to a minimum depth of 300 feet for 25 percent of the stream’s length.

Recreational: Recreational rivers do not possess the same degree of natural qualities found in wild or scenic rivers, yet warrant protection due to unique cultural and/or important historical attributes. The influence of human activities is much more apparent on rivers with this classification.

Advisory Councils

Upon designation of a river as wild, scenic or recreational, the director of ODNR appoints a 10-member Scenic River Advisory Council that represents local interests within the watershed. Members often include private citizens, local government officials, conservation organizations and property owners. Scenic River advisory councils advise ODNR on local attitudes, interests, and areas of concern related to the preservation of a designated river.

Stream Quality Monitoring

Rivers and streams in the Ohio Scenic Rivers program are monitored regularly to ensure that the water quality remains high. Learn more about stream quality monitoring (SQM) and how you can volunteer to become a SQM Monitor!

Scenic Rivers is a program within the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.