While I know summer is winding down the opportunities for outdoor fun in Findlay and Hancock County don’t have to stop. In fact, they may even get better!
A couple months ago my family hit the river and kayaked a portion of the Blanchard River Water Trail. Our group ranged in kayak skills from very experienced (my parents and brother) to third time kayaking solo (my 9 year old son). Also along for the ride was my 6 year old son who loves kayaking because you, in his words, “relax, eat snacks, and squirt people with water guns”.
We put our kayaks in at Eastpoint Area, located near the corner of Bright and Main Cross. I cannot put in to words how easy this was! Hancock Parks has put in a floating dock that even has notches for your paddles. So, you simply sit the kayak in the chute, get in, and propel yourself forward to enter the water. Besides being practical, my sons thought this was so much fun. So fun that my 6 year old convinced my mom to do it several times while we unloaded the kayaks.
Once we were all in the water we started paddling towards Downtown. We made our way through the Findlay Country Club, waving at some golfers as we wound through the course.
As we got closer to Riverside Park we knew that we had to portage to get past the dam. There are a few portages along the Blanchard River Water Trail, but for our route this was the only time we had to do so. There are plenty of warnings as you get close and directing you to where to exit on the right side of the river. This can be a little difficult, especially if paddling solo, so keep this in mind! Once we all exited the kayaks and pulled them out of the river we took them a little down the road, past the dam, and put them back in the water. This was a good time for my 6 year old to change riding partners, for us all to fuel up on snacks, and to take a little break.
Shortly after we made it back in the water after portaging we did hit a few spots of low water that created very small rapids. Use common sense here by aiming for the calmest and deepest water and you won’t have a problem. Worst case – you may have to scoot forward a little or possibly get out and move the kayak forward. My boys loved every section we came upon and treated them like a waterslide.
We started paddling again and my boys started noticing familiar sites as we got closer to Downtown Findlay. They pointed out a few bridges, familiar billboards, and, of course, the first peek of John Hancock atop the courthouse. Once we made it to Downtown we waved to Alissa who snapped our photo from the Civitan Park pedestrian bridge!
We continued past Swale Park and Rawson Park, and under I-75. We saw quite a few turtles and a few deer. I’m sure we would have seen more wildlife but my dad and sons were too busy having water fights with the squirt guns smuggled on to kayaks to notice! We ended our paddle at Liberty Landing, about 5 miles from where we started. As you can see from the glee in his eyes – this was just right distance for our oldest!
In all, it took us about 3 hours with many breaks for little arms (okay, some grown up arms too!). I’d guess the time would be close to half that for experienced paddlers. Getting out at Liberty Landing was very easy. There wasn’t a floating dock (yet!), but the steps made it simple enough. I’d definitely recommend water shoes as my choice of flip flops was not a good one and did make things much more difficult than it should have been!
Overall, we’re already looking forward to tackling another section of the Blanchard River Water Trail soon! We definitely want to start further up river to paddle through Riverbend Recreation Area (and under the bald eagles nest!), and hopefully catch the low water section that starts at the Blanchard River Nature Preserve near Mt. Blanchard in the Spring. Besides the Blanchard River Water Trail, there are so many opportunities to paddle in Hancock County including, of course, Van Buren State Park! We will see you on the water soon.