Great Miami River Watershed Water Trails
The Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail is the largest water trail system in Ohio and the state's only nationally designated water trail system. The trail collectively offers 291 miles of waterway accessible to recreational boaters, fishermen and wildlife watchers.
What is a water trail?
A Water Trail is a network of publicly accessible facilities that provide opportunities to fish; launch canoes, kayaks, and other craft; and explore the natural and cultural heritage along the river.
The Miami Conservancy District distributes water trail maps for the Great Miami, Mad and Stillwater rivers. Download PDF versions of the maps at right or plan a river trip with our interactive map.
Water Trail Maps
The maps feature:
- Public access points along the rivers.
- Amenities at each of the public access points.
- Locations of low dams.
- Safety information including river hazards, hypothermia, boating etiquette and more.
Play It Safe!
Before starting any river trip, be prepared by reading the safety side of the water trail map.
Play It Safe videos
(large version 3.7MB)
(small version 796KB)
There are more than 60 low dams on the rivers and streams in the Great Miami River Watershed. The low dams create a pool of water upstream of the dam for recreation including boating and fishing. The locations of all the low dams are marked on the water trail maps. Six of them were built by MCD at the request of communities. Of the six low dams owned by MCD, only Two Mile Dam in Hamilton is part of the flood protection system. In 2009, the low dam just above the Englewood flood protection dam was removed.
Low dams can be deceptively calm and incredibly dangerous. Low dams may range from a 25-foot drop-off to a mere 6-inch drop-off. The MCD low dams range from 5 to 9 feet. Water flowing over the dam forms currents that can trap objects as well as boaters.
Low dam safety tips
- Know the location of all low dams and waterfalls on the river you plan to boat. (See water trail maps)
- Never attempt to boat over a dam or waterfall.
- Carry your boat around the low dam and launch at a safe distance, well downstream of the backwash of the low dam, which can pull you back into the dam.
- Watch for a smooth line connecting the banks. This may be the top of a low dam.
- Listen for the splashing sounds of turbulence and the dangerous currents at dams.
- Scout the river and know the location of all river hazards not just low dams.
- Boat with experienced, responsible boaters and learn from them.
- Look for concrete retaining walls, which some dams have at each bank, making the dams easier to spot.
- Unless you are trained in low-dam rescues, never enter the water in an attempt to rescue someone trapped by the low dam. Immediately call for help; then, throw a line from shore to the trapped person.
Surviving a low dam
It is nearly impossible to escape the force of a low dam’s currents. When trapped, your best hope for survival is to tuck your chin down, draw your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your knees. With luck, the current will push you beyond the backwash and release you into the river.
Great fishing abounds in the Great Miami River Watershed. In fact, the Mad River is one of the best trout streams in the state.
For additional information on fishing in the Great Miami River Watershed, contact ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources).
A Guide to Ohio Streams is available at:
To ensure that our rivers are clean for everyone to enjoy, it's important to remember to "leave it as you found it." So be sure to follow these guidelines.
Displose of litter properly
— pack it out
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Never throw any garbage into the water.
- Plastics are dangerous to wildlife
— baggies, sixpack rings and other clear plastics float on the water.
Display courtesy and respect to riverfront landowners
- Many access points are located on public property, but most of the shoreline — and river bottom are privately owned.
- Many landowners enjoy the stream's peace and solitude from their property. Share the same courtesy that you would want.
Leave what you find
- Leave artifacts and natural objects undisturbed.
- Avoid introducing non-native species, including live bait, by cleaning equipment between trips.
- Never feed wildlife. It damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife by storing food and trash securely.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times -- mating, nesting or when food is scarce.
For more information, go to Leave No Trace, the Center for Outdoor Ethics at www.lnt.org.