Paddle Powered

Want an up-close look at Ohio in its natural state? All you need is a friend, a sunny afternoon and our advice. 
Canoeing Ohio's rivers means coming face to face with long stretches of wild. It'll make you forget about your hybrid car and your morning cup of Starbucks. Setting out on a quiet river is a way to leave the modern world behind for a while.

And because canoeing these days is leisure and not transportation, you have options: It can be a social affair with friends filled with laughter, water fights and picnic lunches. Or it can be an isolated experience — just you, a paddling buddy and nature.

For those who prefer the latter, a portion of the 90-mile Grand River is tough to beat for tranquility. "Sometimes you'll be the only ones out on the river, even during peak season," says Bob Bellas, owner of Grand River Canoe Livery, about an hour's drive east of Cleveland.

That doesn't mean you won't have company. We saw turtles sunning themselves on rocks and a mother duck with her ducklings lounging in the shade — all kinds of nature, tucked away and uninterrupted.

Trips range from two-mile excursions to overnight outings. Really, any distance feels like an adventure. That's the beauty of a river — hop in a canoe, grab a paddle, and see where it takes you. 3825 Fobes Road, Rock Creek, 440-813-0413,

The Cuyahoga, Tuscarawas and Mohican rivers also offer great canoeing. Here are three liveries that can get you out on the water:

Camp Hi Canoe Livery
Trek along the scenic part of the Upper Cuyahoga River on either a seven-mile or 10-mile trip. This section of the river is also great for swimming and fishing. 12274 Abbott Road, Hiram, 330-569-7621,

Canal Fulton Canoe Livery
Trips of five or 11 miles on the Tuscarawas River will take you past the southern portion of the Towpath Trail. While most liveries charge you per person, this one charges per canoe. 219 W. Cherry St., Canal Fulton, 330-854-4008,

Mohican Adventures
Take the seven-mile trip to Frye's Landing on the Mohican River, which was named in honor of the founding father of canoeing in Ohio. Or for the more adventurous, try the two-day trip that pairs the seven-mile trip one day with a 15-miler the next. State Route 3 South (visit website for directions), Loudonville, 888-909-7400,
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