Loop Trail? No
Type: National Water Trails Syst
Agency: City, Town, or County
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Boating, non-motorized: Rafting
Boating, non-motorized: Sailing
Boating, non-motorized: Tubing
Heritage and History
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Location: The Ohio River and Little Kanawha River within Wood County, WV
State(s): West Virginia, Ohio
Counties: Wood County WV, Washington County OH
This Water Trail is accessible from the cities of Marietta OH, Williamstown WV, Parkersburg WV, and Belpre, OH. It is crossed by Interstate 77 and US Route 50.
The Ohio River Water Trail is exceptionally accessible to residents and visitors. The Water Trail borders the cities of Marietta OH, Williamstown WV, Vienna WV, Parkersburg WV, and Belpre OH. It is crossed by Interstate 77 and US Route 50.
There are multiple public trailer-ready boat ramps with ample parking along the Water Trail.
Half the Trail access sites have ADA compliant parking, ADA compliant restrooms and ADA compliant access to the water.
Although roads and railroads follow the river, they are generally not visible from the river below. Trees along the river bank often block out views of homes, farm fields, and industrial sites. Paddlers along the Ohio River can feel a sense of remoteness and natural beauty.
The island ‘chutes’ (the narrower, not commercially navigable, sections between an island and the shore) also offer remote natural settings.
The many ‘backwaters’ (tributary creeks, flooded by the elevated water levels caused by the Belleville Lock and Dam), offer different experiences, that of a narrow creek or perhaps a quiet pond or wetland, away from the commercial and recreational traffic of the river.
The Ohio River offers abundant wildlife to enjoy, the Water Trail is between two major bird migration routes, which results in high species diversity along the river. Nearly 200 species of birds visit the Ohio River each year, including osprey and bald eagles.
There are over 100 species of fish in the Ohio River, including spotted bass, sauger, freshwater drum, channel and flathead catfish. Both West Virginia and residential Ohio fishing licenses are honored on the Ohio River.
There are over 25 mammal species along the Ohio River and Little Kanawha River, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, muskrats, mink, cottontail rabbit and red fox. Frogs, toads, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and forty species of freshwater mussels add to the astonishing bio-diversity of these rivers.
Three of the islands on the Trail are part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors are welcome to pull their canoes and kayaks up onto the shore and explore these islands on foot during the day.
The rich engineering history of the Oho River can be best viewed and appreciated from the Water Trail, including:-
- Blennerhassett Island Bridge. Built in 2008, a Network Tied Arches bridge, the second of this type built in the US.
-CSX Ohio River Bridge. Through truss bridge, originally built 1870. The longest bridge in the world upon completion at 1.4 miles.
-Harmar Bridge. A Pratt through truss bridge with manual swing draw span over Muskingum River.
-Williamstown Bridge, a through truss bridge, built in 1992.
-I-77 Bridge. Through truss bridge, built in 1965.
-CSX Little Kanawha River Bridge. A Polygonal Warren through truss design
-5th Street Bridge. Rivet connected Polygonal Warren through truss, built in 1935, and refurbished in 1998. This bridge is historically significant for its association with the Works Progress Administration and features special plaques that appear on some Depression era bridges across the country.
-Parkersburg Flood Wall, completed in 1956.
Canoes, river transportation, and river transportation technology are integral to the history of the Mid-Ohio valley, and trail-users have an opportunity to share the experiences of the natives, the pioneers, the settlers and even the fugitive slaves who paddled these waters in the past.
Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: Water, slow moving
Grass or vegetation
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2020
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsBrochure: Brochure and map
Brochure: Ohio River Water Trail development and maintenance plan, 2019 Every March WCATC and Greater Parkersburg CVB (Trail co-managers) invite the various Water Trail partners to meet. This annual meeting focuses on evaluating our previous year's performance
Brochure: Water Trail Development Maintenance Plan - 2019
Brochure: Water Trail Development and Maintenance Plan - 2018
Brochure: Water trail plan status, end of year 2018
Brochure: Water Trail plan status,end of year 2017
Brochure: Water Trail Development and Maintenance Plan - 2017
Brochure: Water Trail Development and Maintenance Plan - 2016
Brochure: Water Trail designation application
Website: Ohio River Water Trail, Parkersburg WV
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Chair, Wood County Alt. Transportation Council
Wood County Commission
c/o Angi Graham, Administrative Assistant
Wood County Commission
#1 Court Square, Suite 203
Parkersburg, WV 26101
Greater Parkersburg CVB
350 7th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101
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