The removal of the 5th Avenue dam along the Olentangy River is giving rise to new business. Olentangy Paddle is offering kayak and canoe rentals for a 3.6 mile stroll down the Olentangy.
Filling what owner Lisa Daris describes as a pent-up demand, the company made its first run on Mother’s Day weekend.
“People have often said to me, ‘I’ve been waiting for somebody to start this business!’,” Daris says.
Olentangy Paddle provides kayak rentals for $30 for adults and $10 for children ages seven to 14, with plans to add canoes to their fleet soon. Paddlers travel from Broadmeadows Park in Worthington and head south to Northmoor Park in Clintonville. The company helps river-goers in and out of the boats and also provides some basic paddling instructions for a safe trip. From the river to the trail, Olentangy Paddle also offers bike rentals so paddlers can take the Olentangy Trail back up to their vehicles.
Olentangy Paddle does three runs a day during the week and four on the weekend, but can also accommodate special requests.
Changes on the Olentangy have helped make the kayaking route possible.
“One of the main things that happened last year was the state of Ohio designated the Olentangy as a state-designated water trail,” Daris says. This means the river is getting healthier and cleaner. It is also easier to get in the water. “The city, along with the help of FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed), has created access points along the river,” Daris says.
Daris says that from an environmental standpoint, the dams along the Olentangy have done more harm than good. Instead of stagnant pools of water, dam removal is allowing the water to flow as a river should, giving rise to a healthier ecosystem. However, the flow is still calm, making it a good choice for water activities like kayking.
Continued dam removal and restoration also provides expansion options for Olentangy Paddle. The company will explore routes downtown once restoration around the Main Street Dam on the Scioto is finished.
Daris, who has been an environmental advocate for many years, is excited by the changes taking place on the river. “Just that fact that we’re starting with the river is great,” she says. “Ohio has so much to offer in outdoor activities.”
Bringing attention back to a great, local outdoor resource people may often overlook, Daris wants Olentangy Paddle to be a a way that both adults and children can enjoy the outdoors.
For more information, olentangypaddle.com.