Licking River

August 13,14th 2004




         I had never canoed the Licking, so when Jock e-mailed and said he had a free Saturday I asked if he wanted to do the Licking River. OHCRA member Ron Mills lives in the area and offered us a place to stay Friday night. After finally finding Ron’s house (I was 30 minutes late meeting Jock), we learned that Ron had to work until midnight. The good news was he was off Saturday and could go with us. Now we had an unofficial OHCRA canoe outing!! Jock introduced me to our hostess for the evening, Ron’s longtime girlfriend Terri. She was great and basically opened the house to us. We sat around and chatted until bedtime. Jock slept on the deck and I stayed in my truck.


                    Saturday morning we ate breakfast at Frisch’s then headed to the put-in spot. We drove east on St. Rt. 16 to the east end of Newark, Ohio. If you go past the giant Longaberger Basket building, and I mean Giant, you’ve gone to far. Take county road 315 down to the river. Ron and I took my truck down to county road 408, the take out point, which is 11 miles by river. Then we drove his car back upstream where we launched the canoes around 10:00 a.m.


                    Now this wasn’t just your average OHCRA canoe trip. We planned on “FISHING” for smallmouth bass. Yep, fishing! The water was at its summer level, warm and clear. We got the poles ready and starting casting. It wasn’t long until I landed the first fish. Then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. it was all luck on my part, but man were Jock and Ron grumbling. I ended the day with 9 smallmouth, 1 crappie, and 1 good-sized bluegill. Jock and Ron both got 2 smallies a piece.


        We saw lots of wildlife, 1 deer, 2 muskrats, 3 water snakes, 1 black snake, geese, and ducks. Lots of shad darted around and under our canoes. The shoreline was rolling with corn and soybean fields on both sides. You could see where some animal had been dragging cornstalks down to the river, I assumed beaver.


                    All of a sudden the river doubled back on its self and I could see some hills. A ½ mile further and we were entering the Blackhand Gorge. I’ve seen pictures of the gorge, but it sure looks different in person. It was so quiet and peaceful. We drifted past boulders bigger than cars. There is a bike or rails to trails path that parallels the river for a ways. We heard a few people riding by and everyone sounded like they were having fun.


                    I could see lots of evidence of the old canal system that ran through this part of the state. Check out a couple links on the area:


                   When we pasted under the next to the last bridge Ron hollered, “We take out at the next bridge.” When we arrived at the county road 408 bridge, Jock was paddling ahead of Ron and I, and he just kept paddling downstream. If we had not stopped him, I think he would have been well on his way to the Ohio River. We threw the canoes on the truck and headed for town and the nearest drive thru. It was a great relaxing trip, no hurry at all. I think we were on the water close to 8 hours.


           I have had the honor of canoeing with close to 20 OHCRA members and everyone has been friendly, helpful, and just plain fun to be with. I can hardly wait for the Little Muskingum River trip in September.

Until then, Stroke and glide…. Stroke and glide….

View All Pictures of the Licking River Trip