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Metro Parks offering naturalist-led kayak, canoe trips on Cuyahoga River

8/1/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County is offering a new program that includes kayak and canoe trips along sections of the Cuyahoga River.
Photo courtesy of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County
GREATER AKRON — Metro Parks, Serving Summit County is offering a new program that includes naturalist-led kayak and canoe trips along local sections of the restored Cuyahoga River.

“The river is a great asset to our area. We want the public to enjoy it as a resource and to experience something new and exciting. It’s relaxing, great exercise, beautiful and educational. It’s a unique way to enjoy our Metro Parks and natural resources,” said Christine Hockman, interpretive services manager for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County. “These are the first Cuyahoga River programs for us. We also offer canoe programs on our Silver Creek Lake in Norton, but nothing on the river.”

Hockman said the goal of the program is “to immerse visitors in a fun experience that’s both recreational and educational.”

“Water-quality improvements have made the river more accessible for recreational users,” she said.

With “more and more people” becoming involved in kayaking and canoeing, Hockman said the timing was right to start the program.

“We created this program in partnership with Crooked River Adventures, run through Kent State University, because they have the equipment and [American Canoe Association]-certified instructors, and we have the naturalists and Metro Parks knowledge,” she said. “It’s a good example of two agencies working together to combine resources and provide opportunities for our local residents.”

The program allows participants to either “Paddle the Parks” or “Paddle the Gorge.” Hockman said the Paddle the Parks program starts at the river in Kent at Tannery Park, 100 Stow St., and “follows it as it meanders along, either to Brust Park or Waterworks Park.” Paddle the Gorge follows the expanse of river above the dam at Gorge Metro Park, located at 1160 Front St. in Cuyahoga Falls, she noted.

“American Canoe Association-certified instructors will provide training and supervision, while naturalists will offer information about the river’s unique natural features,” Hockman said.

Some features along the river that might be of interest, she said, include great blue herons, green herons, bald eagles, turtles, fish, dragonflies and damselflies, along with “neat geology, plant life and beaver activity.”

“And the water is a feature in itself,” Hockman stated. “For the Gorge paddles, the geology there is spectacular. Looking up to towering ledges around you from the water will be fantastic and very memorable. [Participants will] see the Gorge in a way that few have experienced — from a boat.”

Hockman said beginners are welcome to sign up for the Paddle the Parks program, which will take place: Aug. 10 from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Sept. 6 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Sept. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Oct. 4 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and Oct. 5 from 2:30 to 6 p.m.

“Be confident — we’ll help you,” she said. “No experience is needed. Expect an introduction to get you comfortable with operating the canoe or kayak. We’ll be going down river. You will be paddling for a few hours, so bring water, a snack and the appropriate clothing. Point out sightings and get answers to your questions.”

Participants in the Paddle the Parks program can be ages 3 and older.

“Age 13 and over can ride in their own boat, but must be accompanied by an adult who is also registered in another boat,” Hockman said. “Smaller children 3 and over may ride in a canoe with two parents/legal guardians.”

For the Paddle the Parks programs, registration is open now. Those interested in taking part should call Crooked River Adventures at 330-541-7467. The cost varies with each date, but ranges from $20 to $25 to kayak and $30 to $40 to canoe.

Only experienced kayakers should sign up for the Paddle the Gorge programs, however. The minimum age is 13, and all 13- to 17-year-olds must attend with an adult.

The free Paddle the Gorge program will take place Aug. 11 and Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon. Visitors can register for the Aug. 11 program now by calling Metro Parks at 330-865-8065. For the Sept. 7 program, visitors can start registering Aug. 14.

According to Hockman, participants do not need to bring along any equipment for either of the programs.

“We’ll provide all of the equipment,” she said. “They can bring their own life jacket if they prefer, but we have those, too. We’ll give them a packing list when they register for other items, such as water, snack, sunscreen, no flip flops, etc. We recommend bringing binoculars, if you have them.”

For more information about the programs, visit www.summitmetroparks.org or call 330-865-8065.

“Registration is required, to ensure there’s enough equipment for all, so please check the program descriptions for information,” Hockman stated.

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