Firefighter on bridge watching river
©2021 Loveland Local News. Photo by Joe Wessels/LLN. A Miami Township firefighter stands on Bridge Street bridge over the Little Miami River on June 19, 2021 keeping an eye out for a reported distressed kayaker. The boater was never found and officials believe it may have been reported erroneously.

Thinking about going out on the Little Miami River around Loveland, Ohio? Great! Whether you’re in a canoe, kayak, innertube or just you and your life jacket floating along, it’s a beautiful way to enjoy (and beat!) those hot and humid summer months in southwestern Ohio.

But the river can be dangerous, though, and the best way to ruin an expected and otherwise pleasant day on the water is fast-moving – and therefore deceptively dangerous – water. It’s also not a lot of fun to go out on a river that is too low. Canoes and kayaks “bottom out” causing boats to need to be portaged or carried across land or over rocks and shallows river portions. While this latter scenario isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can make an otherwise exciting river trek into a bit of a nightmare.

According to “A Paddler’s Guide to the Little Miami River” by Dan and Alex Kaufman, the United States Geological Survey, or USGS, has four river gauges along the Little Miami, all located in pooled-water areas which provide more stable readings. Check these gauges out before going out – especially if it has rained recently – or if you want to make sure you won’t be dragging your boat most of the way to the take-out.

In their book, the Kaufmans recommend checking the river gauge directly north of where you intend to start your river paddling journey. Good luck – and stay safe!

More about the Little Miami River

Southwestern Ohio’s Little Miami River, an Ohio River tributary, headwaters form from its own tributary – the North Fork – and several confluent creeks and streams in Greene County, Ohio near the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio. The river formed the Clifton Gorge and runs through John Bryan State Park, a popular gathering spot loaded with hiking trails and opportunities to explore and wade in the river.

The Little Miami continues south near (or through) towns like Xenia, Bellbrook, Spring Valley, and Waynesville – very close to Warren County’s Caesar Creek State Park. The park’s lake was formed when Ceasar Creek, itself a Little Miami tributary, was dammed in 1978 under the Flood Control Act of 1938 to help prevent flooding downstream during potentially heavy spring rainfall. Dam releases after heavy rainfall or when the lake’s pool is too high can cause unsafe boating conditions downstream – and seem to happen with little or no warning.

The river continues its southerly flow past the hills of Fort Ancient, the towns of Morrow, South Lebanon, Kings Mills (the home of Kings Island amusement park), Foster and, of course, Loveland, Ohio. Continuing on, it passes the Kelley Preserve (part of the Clermont County Park District, and home to a canoe launch point), Hamilton County Park District’s Lake Isabella (with a canoe access point) and historical Camp Dennison (a Civil War military hospital, recruitment and training facility).

Past the Civil War outpost, the Little Miami passes next to the Village of Indian Hill on one side and the city of Milford, Ohio on the other. Milford is a mid-sized town, home to Jim Terrell park and its own canoe take-out spot, and replete with several dining options, an excellent brewery (with river access) and other shops – including the superb Roads, Rivers and Trails outdoor outfitter. Floating further south, the Little Miami passes by Mariemont, Fairfax, Otto Armleder Park (another canoe put-in or take-out access point), the Cincinnati city-owned Lunken Airport (where American Airlines was founded, among other aviation firsts), before spilling out into the Ohio River at California, Cincinnati’s easternmost neighborhood (and home to an excellent nature preserve). Next stop: The mighty Mississippi!

The Little Miami River is a national and state scenic river and it got that designation through the hard work and efforts mainly through one organization, the Little Miami River Conservancy. Check them out for excellent river history, maps, other area information – or to make a donation to this worthy organization.