Crooked River Adventures: Making the Cuyahoga River a place of excursion


Clouds reflect off of the Cuyahoga River as a man fishes into on Feb. 24, 2017. The temperature reached into the seventies, unusually warm for February in Ohio.

Catrell Simpson

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Imagine having America’s 2019 River of the Year right in your backyard.

The Cuyahoga River runs almost 85 miles through Northeast Ohio. Part of that 85 miles runs in the city of Kent through Tannery Park.

Many people fish, walk and run by the river, while some just sit, enjoying the weather and scenery of the park

Tannery Park is filled with many different activities for the community to interact with. One of the activities the park offers is a kayaking adventure that goes through Kent State called Crooked River Adventures. This group coasts up and down the river every weekend during the spring, summer and fall months.

Group supervisor Sadie Norton is one of the main people responsible for organizing trips.

“Crooked River Adventures combines downtown Kent and the Cuyahoga River with things that we offer at the adventure center and at Kent State. So that intersection kind of forms between Kent State and Crooked River Adventures.”

With the weather finally starting to warm up, this is the prime time for the organization to coast down the river.

Crooked River specialist Jason Schall explained what it’s like being in a kayak on the river.

“So we start here at Tannery, and we shove you guys in the water. And there’s a little curve down here that’s a little difficult to get past,” Schall said. “So we walk down and make sure everyone makes it down. And then we send you guys on your way. You can get a guide if you want to but most people don’t. It’s a pretty tame river.”

The Cuyahoga River is normally pretty tame, but Norton said the measurements that go into seeing if the river calm enough for kayaking differs from time to time.

“So our river usually sits when it’s dryer at 200 (water flow cubic feet per second), but when it gets up there, it’s about 800 and so we’ll cancel programs if it’s around 800 or 100. But when it’s a lower CFS, it’s really calm to just go out with your friends and we call it a float,” Norton said. “We also have a few staff that go white water rafting. It’s fun going out and challenging yourself like that. And then our max is 750; If it is above 800, you need a guide. That and temperature because the water could be particularly cold in the spring and in the fall.”

The group typically gets out on the water over the weekend. This adventure also goes out to assists others in surrounding cities.

“So we have organizations that go out on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those are our main days for Crooked River Adventures. So we have three  trips that run on Friday, sometimes four on Saturday and Sunday. Those can go from like two-hour trips to a six-and-a-half hour trip. But then we also offer up a custom trips in addition to that. So we will also go out and work with Cuyahoga Valley National Park and like help train some of their group facilitators. We also go to hudson and help teach paddling lessons that they have there.”

Although it’s the same river, each trip down it could be completely different.

“In the fall there’s usually a lot of wildlife,” Schall said. “I would say that’s the coolest part. And it’s just peaceful in general. If you go with someone, I wouldn’t go alone.”

All these perspectives make everything about this adventure different, but that may not be the most impressive thing about the organization.

“In general, Crooked River Adventure student run. In fact, this summer, we lost our senior members.”

The group will be kayaking down the river every weekend from now until the end of November.

Catrell Simpson is a Kent State journalism student. Contact him at [email protected].