Mad River - Southwest Ohio

Thomas P. Martin, Ph.D., FACSM
Health, Fitness and Sport Department
Wittenberg University
P.O. Box 720
Springfield, OH 45501
(937) 327-6470 (work)

Link to Tom Martin's Web Page

Mad River Map - if you have difficulty viewing with Internet Explorer - try Netscape
The vast majority of information on this map is correct, however, it does not yet include the August 2006 updates.

A 2x3 foot (poster size) color map of the Mad River is available from the author.

Link to Little Miami State and National Scenic River (Ohio) Web Site

Waypoints Updated August 2006 - Waypoints were revisited and their descriptions updated as of August 2006. This was done in order to update the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft, pamphlet/maps titled "Boating on Ohio's Streams: Northwest & Southwest Regions" 05/06.

The access points highlighted in this report are located on public property. However, be aware that most of the shoreline - and the river bottom - are privately owned. Therefore, only exit your boat in places that are known to be public property.



During July of 2001, Tom Martin, an Ohio Division of Watercraft Volunteer and professor at Wittenberg University in Springfield Ohio, collected information, canoed, and drove to bridges and access points along the Mad River in southwest Ohio. Tom and Tom Stafford took three days to canoe the 50.7 miles from West Liberty to the confluence with the Great Miami River in Dayton Ohio.

Tom Stafford     Tom Martin

The purpose of this project was to correct and update the information on the Mad River contained in the Ohio Division of Watercraft pamphlet "Boating on Ohio’s Streams: 2 Southwest Section," which was last published in 10/95. The project was expanded to include additional information on river miles, Global Positioning System (GPS) data, access points, and canoe liveries.

The river miles used in this report are those established by the Miami Conservancy District, 38 E. Monument Ave., Dayton Ohio 45402, (937) 223-1271. They were obtained from the following two maps: Dayton – Springfield #30588 and Springfield – Zanesfield #30589, dated 8-24-84. The river miles begin at the point where the Mad River enters the Great Miami River and proceed upstream. River miles for access points and dams are presented in red. River miles for other waypoints (e.g. bridges with no access, creeks entering river, etc.) are presented in blue.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) data in this report was collected with a Garmin GPS 12 Personal Navigator. This unit used WGS 84 map datum. Bridge measurements were taken in the middle of the upstream side of each bridge. Launch site measurements were taken at the launch site at river’s edge. Ninety five percent of the site measurements were checked on a second or third day to insure accuracy.

Canoe liveries paddle from river mile 45.8 (Lippincott Road Access) to river mile 20.1 (Aaron’s Canoe & Kayak Center, formerly Morgan’s). The liveries attempt to keep this segment of the river clear of dangerous strainers, however, there is no guarantee that the river will be clear. Each storm can add or remove strainers from the river.

Tree Across River

Blow Down
Trees Across River

River miles 50.7 (West Liberty) to 45.8 (Lippincott Road Access) and 20.1 (Aaron’s Canoe & Kayak Center) to 0.0 (Deeds Park in Dayton) are not cleared by liveries. Therefore, scouting and additional precautions should be used when paddling these segments of the river. There are strainers and debris build up on these sections of the river (particularly on curves and against bridge abutments) and paddling skills are necessary to negotiate passageways and/or move to the riverbank for portage.

The recreational canoeist should read related literature, check with liveries, and personally check the section of river to be paddled before embarking on a canoe trip. River level should be checked and the weather forecast taken into consideration before embarking on a river trip. Extended rain and storms can raise the river to a dangerous level. One river livery will not rent canoes/kayaks when the flow rate exceeds 500 cfs (cubic feet per second). Also, keep in mind that each storm can add or remove strainers (i.e. logs/trees across river) from the river. Strainers are dangerous and should be avoided. A float plan including put-in and take-out points should be left with a responsible person along with an estimated time of return.

Ohio boating law requires that there be a properly maintained Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. The PFD must fit the person for whom it is intended and children under 10 MUST wear their PFDs at all times. It is recommended that all paddlers wear their PFDs whenever on or near the water.

Many access points are in secluded areas. Be sure to lock all valuables in your trunk or take your vehicle to a secure area before launching your boat. There have been many documented vehicle break-ins at access points along the river - so take reasonable precautions.

This report describes waypoints as of August 2006. Keep in mind that, over time, bridges, dams and/or access points will be constructed as well as removed from the river.

Note - River Miles are given for each waypoint, that is, water distance from the mouth of the Mad River to that waypoint. River Miles to each Access Point and Dam are given in red. River Miles to other waypoints are given in blue (e.g. bridges with no access, creeks, etc.).

River Waypoints

    51.2  West Liberty Park Access, entrance 0.5 mile east of US 68 on SR 245 (Baird St), enter park, go to west side of baseball fields, access river left where Onion Creek enters Mad River
    GPS – N 40o 15.260   W 83o 44.861
    Parking Lot

    51.1  SR 245 (Baird St) bridge in West Liberty, roadside access river left
    GPS – N 40o 15.134   W 83o 44.963
    Roadside Parking

    50.7  US 68 bridge in West Liberty, roadside access, river right
    GPS – N 40o 14.950   W 83o 45.309
    Parking Lot

    50.0  Pimtown Road bridge, roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 14.610   W 83o 45.865
    Parking Lot (small)

    49.4  Old farm road bridge
    GPS – N 40o 14.186   W 83o 45.601

    48.9  Farm road bridge
    GPS – N 40o 13.776   W 83o 45.762

    48.8  ConRail railroad bridge
    GPS – N 40o 13.736   W 83o 45.829

    48.2  Sullivan Road/Mennonite Church Road (Upper Valley Pike), roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 13.359   W 83o 46.391
    Roadside Parking

    47.9  Upper Valley Pike, roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 13.185   W 83o 46.670
    Roadside Parking

    45.8  Lippincott Road Access, access river right
    GPS – N 40o 11.683   W 83o 47.803
    Roadside Parking

    45.2  Macochee Ditch enters river left
    GPS – N 40o 11.206   W 83o 47.662

    44.2  DAM (2 ft) - farm road through river, approach with caution, portage on either side
    Also, old farm road bridge across river immediately downstream
    GPS – N 40o 10.380   W 83o 47.743

    Dam/Road Across River

    Glady Creek enters river right just below dam

    43.8  Old farm road bridge
    GPS – N 40o 10.121   W 83o 47.726

    43.4  Old farm road bridge
    GPS - N 40o 09.760   W 83o 47.425

    43.0  Kings Creek enters river left
    GPS - N 40o 09.419   W 83o 47.216

    42.8  SR 29/SR 296 bridge northwest of Urbana, roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 09.310   W 83o 47.304
    Roadside Parking

    40.9  Birch Bark Canoe Livery Ltd. just N of Millerstown Road on River Road northwest of Urbana, access river right with permission. Muddy Creek enters river right at canoe livery
    GPS – N 40o 07.908   W 83o 48.587
    Canoe Rentals
    Camping, primitive (fee)

    Birch Bark Canoe Livery Ltd., 1455 River Road, Urbana, OH 43078, (937) 652-2663

    40.7  Millerstown Road bridge and River Road northwest of Urbana, access river right
    GPS – N 40o 07.810   W 83o 48.577
    Roadside Parking

    39.1  US 36 bridge Access, west of Urbana, river right
    GPS - N 40o 06.441   W 83o 47.951
    Parking Lot

    39.0   DAM (2-3 ft) – just downstream from US 36 bridge, portage river right, ramp to put in is 10 yards downstream of dam
    GPS – N 40o 06.408   W 83o 47.956
    Parking Lot

    Dam Downstream of US 36 Bridge

    38.6  Abandoned railroad (Penn Central) bridge
    GPS – N 40o 06.062   W 83o 47.904

    38.6  Dugan Run enters river left just below RR bridge
    GPS – N 40o 06.039   W 83o 47.903

    37.5  Old Troy Pike bridge, roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 05.156   W 83o 48.074
    Roadside Parking

    36.4  Combined Nettle and Anderson Creeks enter river right
    GPS – N 40o 04.214   W 83o 48.606

    36.2  SR 55 bridge Access, southwest of Urbana, river right
    GPS – N 40o 04.110   W 83o 48.624
    Parking Lot

    35.1  Dallas Road bridge, roadside access
    GPS – N 40o 03.172   W 83o 48.900
    Roadside Parking

    34.3  Stony Creek enters river right
    GPS – N 40o 02.459   W 83o 49.213

    34.2  Bogles Run enters river left

    33.4  Cedar Run enters river left just upstream from County Line Road
    GPS – N 40o 01.738   W 83o 49.271

    33.4  County Line Road bridge (Champaign and Clark counties) north of Tremont City, roadside access river left
    GPS – N 40o 01.694   W 83o 49.271
    Roadside Parking

    33.1  Storms Creek enters river right
    GPS – N 40o 01.462   W 83o 49.393

    31.9  Tremont City Road bridge east of Tremont City, roadside access river left
    GPS – N 40o 00.443   W 83o 49.393
    Roadside Parking

    31.8  Chapman Creek enters river right
    GPS – N 40o 00.356   W 83o 49.418

    30.0  Moore Run enters river left
    GPS – N 39o 58.741   W 83o 49.213

    29.7  Eagle City Road bridge Access, east of Eagle City, river left
    GPS – N 39o 58.588   W 83o 49.337
    Parking Lot

    Typical Strainer Against Bridge Abutment - CAUTION
    Flood Stage - DO NOT ENTER RIVER

    28.8  St. Paris Pike bridge south of Eagle City, steep access river left
    GPS – N 39o 57.854   W 83o 49.894
    Roadside Parking

    27.9  Pondy Creek enters river right
    GPS – N 39o 57.221   W 83o 50.404

    27.4  Railroad bridge (ConRail)
    GPS – N 39o 56.823   W 83o 50.739

    27.1  SR 41 (First Street) bridge west of Springfield
    GPS – N 39o 56.659   W 83o 50.949

    27.0   Launch site below SR 41 bridge, river left. Take US 68 S entrance ramp off of SR 41 and immediately turn right onto Universal Dr. and then turn left onto W First St. and continue to parking area near river.
    Forever Sports Mad River Canoe Rental is located Ό mile E of river.
    GPS – N 39o 56.620   W 83o 50.949
    Parking Lot
    Canoe Rentals
    Picnicking (with permission)
    Food – Snacks

    Forever Sports Mad River Canoe Rental, 2237 W. First Street, Springfield, OH 45504, (937) 325-0115

    26.3  Forest Lake Road bridge (emergency access)
    GPS – N39o 56.038   W 83o 51.092

    25.8  US 68 bridges and ConRail railroad bridge
    GPS – N 39o 55.775   W 83o 51.281

    25.6  US 40 bridges (3)
    GPS – N 39o 55.547   W 83o 51.240

    25.5  Buck Creek enters river left (Ohio Edison plant)
    GPS – N 39o 55.465   W 83o 51.105

    25.4  ConRail railroad bridge
    GPS – N 39o 55.383   W 83o 51.063

    24.7  Mill Creek enters river left
    GPS - N 39o 54.925   W 83o 51.106

    24.6  US 68 bridges
    GPS – N 39o 54.917   W 83o 51.190

    23.9  ConRail railroad bridge
    GPS – N 39o 55.038   W 83o 51.993

    23.5  Lower Valley Pike bridge (emergency access), Rock Run enters river right
    GPS – N 39o 55.341   W 83o 52.163

    23.1  Old Mill Road bridge
    GPS - N 39o 55.138   W 83o 52.569

    22.7  Lower Valley Pike bridge access river right
    GPS – N 39o 54.927   W 83o 52.837
    Roadside Parking

    21.6  Erie-Lackawanna railroad bridge
    GPS – N 39o 54.451   W 83o 53.761

    20.8  Abandoned railroad bridge
    GPS - N 39o 54.327   W 83o 54.585

    20.1  Aaron’s Canoe & Kayak Center (formerly Morgan’s) on Old Lower Valley Pike east of Springfield, access river right with permission
    GPS – N 39o 54.011   W 83o 55.198
    Canoe Rentals
    Camping - fee
    Picnicking - with permission
    Food – Snacks

    Aaron’s Canoe & Kayak Center, 5605 Old Lower Valley Pike, Springfield, OH 45502, (937) 882-6925,

    19.0  Enon Road bridge, access river left
    GPS – N 39o 53.506   W 83o 56.125
    Roadside Parking

    18.8  SR 4 (Business I 70) bridges
    GPS - N 39o 53.515   W 83o 56.310

    18.7  Minich Ditch enters river right
    GPS - N 39o 53.560   W 83o 56.486

    17.8  Donnels Creek enters river right
    GPS - N 39o 53.228   W 83o 57.398

    16.9  Snider Road bridge, emergency access only
    GPS - N 39o 53.139   W 83o 57.992

    16.5  Jackson Creek enters river right

    14.9  Spangler Road bridge south of Medway, roadside access river right off Union Rd upstream of bridge
    GPS – N 39o 52.511   W 83o 59.703
    Parking Lot (across Union Rd)

    12.7  I 70 bridges
    GPS - N 39o 51.880   W 84o 01.160

    11.1  Osborn/Medway Road bridge, emergency access only
    Bridge is at Clark and Greene County line
    GPS – N 39o 50.976   W 84o 02.187

    10.7  Sign across river states STOP - DANGER DAM AHEAD Take Out Now On Right!

    STOP - Danger Dam Ahead

    10.6  DAM/ROAD – "Haul Road" in-water concrete road on top of culverts
    Road is 3-4 ft above normal summer flow level
    Road is for trucks working quarry/concrete plant
    Portage river right
    GPS - N 39o 50.784   W 84o 02.619

    View from Upstream
    View from Downstream

    Fatal rafting accident here on 7/29/01 when water level was 3 feet over top of road (i.e. 6 feet above normal summer flow level) due to over 3 inches of rain the previous day.

    10.2  Mud Creek enters river right
    GPS - N 39o 50.938   W 84o 02.921

    9.8  SR 235 bridge, emergency access river right
    GPS – N 39o 50.588   W 84o 03.037
    Roadside Parking

    U.S. Air Force Installation property; sign reads: "It is unlawful to enter this area without permission of the Installation Commander." Wright Patterson Air Force Base

    9.7  Mud Run enters river left
    GPS N 39o 50.536   W 84o 03.006

    6.5  Huffman MetroPark (Montgomery County Parks), SR 4 to Lower Valley Pike/Huffman Dam Road in Fairborn, take road into MetroPark, go to parking lot at end of road, access river right."
    GPS - N 39o 48.418   W 84o 05.234
    Parking Lot

    There is an inlet between the Mad River and the Huffman Park ponds just downstream. Therefore, you could also put-in or take-out on the bank of the pond. This is the last take-out before the Huffman Dam portage.
    GPS - N 39o 48.360   W 84o 05.246

    5.8  DAM (73 ft) – Huffman Dam in Fairborn (Miami Conservancy Flood Dam), portage river right. Dam is in Huffman Reserve MetroPark (Montgomery County Parks), Take-out river right well before dam. The portage over the dam is about 0.2 mile up a steep incline, over two guardrails, and down a steep incline.
    GPS – N 39o 47.841   W 84o 05.424

    There are three chutes (conduits) going through the bottom of the dam. It is illegal AND DANGEROUS to paddle through these chutes. All three of the chutes were clogged with logs/debris (August, 2006)

    View from Upstream
    Chutes Blocked with Strainers

    View from Downstream
    Flood Stage - DO NOT ENTER RIVER

    5.6  SR 444 bridges
    GPS – N 39o 47.778   W 84o 05.595

    5.2  DAM (8-10 ft) river right – stay far left, portage downstream side of dam
    GPS - N 39o 47.586   W 84o 06.052
    DO NOT continue straight (it is illegal to enter the Dayton Well Field)
    . Continuing straight leads to another DAM [GPS - N 39o 47.354   W 84o 06.684] and then a DANGEROUS SPILLWAY [GPS - N 39o 47.317   W 84o 07.311] with a 4 ft drop into a hydraulic.

    Portage Here

    Dam and Falls
    Spillway - DANGEROUS Hydraulic

    4.1  CAUTION - Large water pipe crosses river at water level, portage either side
    GPS - N 39o 47.586   W 84o 06.934

    Water Pipe Across River

    3.8  Harshman Road bridge Access river left from Eastwood MetroPark
    GPS - N 39o 47.318   W 84o 07.416
    Parking Lot (in Eastwood MetroPark)

    3.0  Eastwood MetroPark Lake Access river right
    Harshman Road entrance W of river - take park road 0.8 miles to barricade/parking. Sign states "Kayak Park and Play;" 0.1 mile trail to access. Rocks in play area produce 1-2 ft drop in water level
    GPS - N 39o 46.956   W 84o 08.285
    Parking Lot
    Restrooms (0.25 mile)
    Water (0.25 mile)

    Kayak Play Area

    Additional access in Eastwood MetroPark - Harshman Road entrance E of river - take park road 1.0 miles to parking lot. Access to river is by Buckeye Trail or steep access from shelter house.

    2.6  Old Baltimore & Ohio railroad bridge abutments
    Creek enters river left
    GPS - N 39o 46.822   W 84o 08.562

    1.6  Findlay St bridge, access river left under bridge
    GPS – N 39o 46.511   W 84o 09.597
    Parking Lot

    Parking lot is at corner of Findlay St and Monument Ave, 0.1 mile from bridge

    0.6  Old North Dayton mini park Access, river right just upstream from Keowee St bridge; stairs to water fountain, Valley St and a Veterans Memorial; Whitewater Warehouse is located here
    GPS – N 39o 46.154   W 84o 10.552
    Parking Lot
    Canoe Rentals

    Whitewater Warehouse, 104 Valley St, Dayton, OH 45404, (937) 222-7020

    0.6  Keowee St bridge
    GPS – N 39o 46.130   W 84o 10.616

    0.5  Baltimore & Ohio railroad bridge
    GPS – N 39o 46.126   W 84o 10.709

    0.2  Webster St bridge
    GPS – N 39o 46.109   W 84o 11.000

    0.0  Mouth of Mad River, it empties into Great Miami River in Dayton
    GPS – N 39o 46.011   W 84o 11.250

    Mad River Empties into Great Miami River in Dayton

    Deeds Park (Dayton Park District) confluence of the Mad River and the Great Miami River (located off Webster St), roadside access off Deeds Park Road. Pedestrian/Bike bridge crosses Mad at mouth of river.
    GPS – N 39o 46.033   W 84o 11.240
    Parking Lot
    Street Parking

    Steep embankment to Deeds Park Road at confluence, easier access at maintenance road about 0.2 mile upstream (right) on Great Miami River. Street parking is from 8am – 10pm.

    Celebration after Canoeing 50.7 Miles

    Additional Information:

    Downtown Dayton RiverScape (formerly Van Cleve Park) is located about 0.2 mile downstream (river left) on the Great Miami River. It is managed by Five Rivers MetroPark (Montgomery County). The five rivers are the (1) Great Miami, (2) Stillwater, (3) Mad, (4) Wolf Creek, and (5) Twin Creek. Paddleboat, Bike and Roller Blade rentals are available. The Miami Conservancy District offices are located right across the street at 38 E. Monument Ave.
    GPS - N 39o 45.906   W 84o 11.382
    Parking (pay lots and metered street parking, except for Sundays and Holidays)

    Check the MetroParks Web Site for RiverScape hours, but generally the gate is unlocked from dawn to dusk.