Hitch up your boat and take a trip to the Ohio River! For our river cruise, we launched at Frontier Boat Launch, a free (and very nice) boat ramp maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. It is located within the Wayne National Forest in Ohio. It has clean, well-kept vault toilets and running water spigots right outside of the building! The park includes an area where you can park your vehicle & boat trailer. It is okay to leave your rig parked overnight, as the park doesn’t close. It’s all nicely paved and the ramp is concrete and in good condition, with an ideal slope of about 15°.
It was raining for a good part of our trip down, but when we arrived the rain quickly morphed into only a drizzle. We climbed up into the boat for a quick check of supplies and equipment. The first order of business was to make a small repair to the Bimini top where the wind had whipped at it on the journey.
The Ohio River has locks all along it, which slows down the flow of the river, and if you ask me (or not), I say this is probably not good for the natural ecosystem. But for better or worse, the locks are there and with them comes a lot of freight moving up and down the river. This freight is carried by barges, big flat-bottomed vessels, pushed along by two- or three-story tow boats. Sometimes you see them pushing barges up to 5 long and two or three wide. They move very slow, meandering along at (guessing) just under 5 knots. These barge “trains” have to wait outside the locks, so when one goes in from one side, another enters from the opposite direction; thus, when you see one go by, it’s a no-brainer that in a few minutes another will be back by in the opposite direction. These huge, slow moving crafts are not known for maneuverability, so they have the right-of-way. They move up and down the river at all hours of the day and night.
The Ohio River is Federal water and is monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard. As far as fishing goes, from your boat and on the river, your state fishing license is legal. Therefore, as long as you stay on the water or on the shore of your state of residence, you will be okay. We launched between Willow Island Locks & Dam to the south and Hannibal Locks & Dam to the north. There is roughly 40 or so miles of river between these two locks and Frontier Boat Launch is about halfway between them. We never got close to the locks; we stayed primarily on one side or other of the boat launch, by a few miles.
Once on the river, scenery took on a whole new perspective. What a way to see the shores of the Ohio River! There are private properties tucked here and there, where you might see a roughly-made stairway leading down to the banks and little wooden docks. How peaceful life must be to have that going on in your back yard!
On the West Virginia side, we saw some industry, but for the most part the river was totally scenic in this particular area. Here we floated, surrounded by beautiful views of the mountainous terrain of the Appalachian foothills. And it was quiet. Only three other boats launched during the three days we were there; arriving with fishful purposes and in their bass boats – going out and coming back a few hours later. I figure they must live somewhere close and that this – going out onto the river – was part of their “day off” routine. Cool!
Anyway, we tied up or anchored at night on the shore at the launch ramp and slept on the boat. For those who like to camp in a campground, Leith Run Recreation Area is close by. We did not visit the campground; however, we saw a glimpse of it from the river while boating by. According to the government website, there is a fee at this campground, but it has facilities and electric and water hookups.
This area along here within the Wayne National Forest is about as back-country as you can get in Ohio; there are many trails and primitive camping areas within the forest. You should check out the Athens Ranger District – Marietta Unit for more information (http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/wayne/about-forest/districts). We spent our time on the river and will have to plan another trip to explore the forest. National Forests are overseen by the federal government, and are not state parks; therefore, different camping rules may apply. It’s a good idea to check first.
It was a fun and relaxing three days! Have you ever been boating on the Ohio River, either on your own boat, or perhaps on one of the river boat cruises? If so, I’d love to hear all about it.
Here are a few more pics. Enjoy. As always, my opinions are my own . . . .see disclaimer