Saturday June 28 Scott and I kayaked the Grand River from Mason’s Landing to Grand River Landing through Painesville, Ohio. There are three distinct personalities to the river through Painesville. The first section from Mason’s Landing to Helen Hazen Wyman park has a remote wilderness feel with shale bluffs towering over the river, little development and no road crossings. The second section through the route 2 bridge has a more urban feel with bridges, houses and general urban noise. And the third section is a slow moving through flat fields as it widens and slows in its final approach to Lake Erie.
Several days of storms passed through the area earlier in the week and the water level was at 3.6 feet at the route 84 water gauge for this trip. At this level the Grand River flowed pretty much bank to bank and resulted in a few areas with good rapids. In my opinion they are probably class 2 rapids at this level but I’m not an expert at grading rivers. This first set of rapids being about a minute or two after launching. There were a couple sets around Helen Hazen Wyman Park, along with the Madison Avenue and route 20 bridges. There are many other smaller rapids throughout the trip but no portaging was required at this water level. The water is typically discolored after rains as seem in the photos below. At lower water levels the water runs clear but typically requires some exitting the boat to navigate the riffles.
There are actually four access points along this stretch of the river. The two easiest are the two we used, Mason’s Landing and Grand River Landing. Both have an established boat launch with Grand River Landing’s being an actual ramp for trailered power boats. It took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes to paddle between the two.
You could also pull out at Helen Hazen Wyman park. Landing here would require a portage up Big Creek to reach the parking area. Maybe a quarter mile or so walk total.
Kiwanis Recreation Park in downtown Painesville is also an option to pull out. At the 3.5 foot water level there was not much of an area to land. At lower water levels it is much easier. The landing is on the right side just passed the Madison Avenue bridge but the main stream channel is on the left side of the river. There were considerable rapids under this bridge at the time.
By far the best and most scenic section of the river for this paddle is from Mason’s Landing to Helen Hazen Wyman park. This section feels remote and is very scenic with wooded flood plains, sandstone cliffs, a Bald Eagle nest and if conditions are right, a water fall or two.
With water levels at 3.6 feet I would recommend experienced beginner paddlers or better. You well need to have the skills to maneuver your boat through rapids and be able to read the water to determine the best route. At lower levels the river is appropriate for first time paddlers.
Overall it was a great trip and I would highly recommend it.