Paddling on the Great Miami River in the Spring - Safely!

Paddling on the Great Miami River in the spring can be tempting - especially after a long, cold winter when we are looking to get back on the river. But you need to consider a few more things before you head out.

To help you keep paddling through colder temperatures, we’ve put together our top 10 tips and things to think about before you decide to pack up and head out.

Our cold weather paddling top ten tips

  1. Clothing. Let’s start with what you wear. In winter, you need to cover the places you lose heat. Wear a hat, pogies and/or gloves, and insulated wet boots. Avoid cotton and choose high-wicking sports fabrics, wool, or fleece instead. *Don’t forget your life jacket – never leave home without it – and WEAR IT!*
  2. Make your boat as watertight as possible. Repair cracks. Double check the bolts to see if any are loose, and tighten them. You want to keep as much water out as possible. Carry a sponge around so you can get rid of any excess water.
  3. Carry a dry bag. It’s a great place to store keys and your phone, but also snacks for the paddle and a spare set of clothes, just in case!
  4. File a Float Plan. Tell someone where you are going, when you are leaving, and when you will be back.
  5. Take a Buddy. Don’t boat alone – especially when the conditions are colder or the water levels are up. Paddling is more fun with a friend anyway.
  6. Warm up. Get the blood pumping and the muscles warm. It will help prevent injury and also make the paddle a little more pleasant all round!
  7. Fuel up. Pack energy bars, fruits and/or nuts. Bring a thermos with a warm drink.
  8. Check the weather before you leave. Fall and winter are notoriously unpredictable. Always check the flow before heading out on a river. Heavy rainfall can change river patterns quickly.
  9. Always carry a phone or other way to call for help. Important for every paddle. A phone in your dry bag should be enough, but if you plan on trips in less developed places, a GPS transmitter might be a good investment.
  10. For more safety tips, see the Great Miami River Water Trail Map.

Before you head off, just one more thing. Cold water shock can happen at any time of the year (not just when it’s freezing cold!) and is the body’s reaction to a sudden change in temperature. Read up on cold water safety before heading out on the water, especially if you’re new to paddling

Stay safe and have fun!

Find your way – to cold weather fun on the Great Miami Riverway!