Paddlefest 2018 Registration is Open!


Join us for the nation’s largest paddling celebration on

Saturday, August 4, 2018


Give the Gift of Paddlefest!
Memories made at the river last a lifetime


Skip on the ties and pajamas this holiday season and give someone you love an experience they’ll always remember – paddling the Ohio River! Paddlefest 2018* is scheduled for Saturday, August 4 and features a 9 mile float down the Ohio River through downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. 

*This gift certificate is for a Paddlefest 2018 registration only. Boat rental, if needed, can be purchased when the Paddlefest 2018 registration gift is redeemed online, while boat supplies last.

Paddlefest 2018 is Presented by

Prefer to Register via Mail?  

Download, complete, and mail-in your Paddlefest registration, postmarked by July 31.

Mail-In Registration Form

Paddlefest 2017 Photos

Thanks to Byrn Weller Photography and our photography team!

Check Out Our Digital Guide to the Ohio Riverside 

Learn about local and historical points of interest along our 9 mile paddling course.  

Thanks to our friends at OKI for their collaboration on this project!

Link to the Guide!

Paddlefest 2018 Information


Registration for Paddlefest 2018 will open in January, with online and mail-in options. For the best deal on our registration rates and selection of rental boats, REGISTER EARLY!

Registration fee includes t-shirt (guaranteed to those who register by July 31), parking, insurance, optional guided paddling tour of Mill Creek, Finish Line Celebration and shuttle bus ride back to Schmidt Recreation Complex.

Packet Pick Up
There are three opportunities for you to pick up your paddler’s packet (goodie bag, t-shirt, wristbands).
Thursday, August 2 – Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford, 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Friday, August 3 – Paddler’s Party at Schmidt Recreation Complex, 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, August 4 – Paddlefest put-in at Schmidt Recreation Complex, 6:00 – 8:30 am 


Rental kayaks, canoes, tandems, and stand up paddle boards are available for participants who don’t own a boat, thanks to our rental livery partners.  Rental fees include boat/board, life vest, and paddles.  Rental boats go quickly!  Reserve yours early!
Rental Boat/Board Rates
Single Kayak (seats one person) – $40
Tandem Kayak (seats two people) – $45
Canoe (seats two people) – $45
Stand Up Paddle Board (stands one person) – $40
Some Notes for Boat/Board Renters
If you are renting a canoe or kayak, you must complete your registration and claim your boat at the registration booth at the Schmidt Recreation Complex NO LATER than 8:00 a.m. on Paddlefest morning, August 4.
Please arrive earlier to be sure you do not miss the deadline. Rental boats not claimed by the 8:00 a.m. deadline will be rented to waiting list paddlers. Rental boats need to arrive at the Finish Line Festival take-out no later than 12:00 p.m. (so they can be loaded and returned by truck to our canoe livery partners for reuse that afternoon).


Boat Drop Off: You can drop off your canoe or kayak and complete your registration on Friday, August 3 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, August 4 from 6:00-8:30 a.m. at the Schmidt Recreation Complex (2944 Humbert Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226) in Cincinnati’s East End. Parking at Schmidt is FREE

We encourage you to drop off your boat and complete your registration on Friday to avoid the rush Saturday morning. Please be sure to put your “Boat Check” tag (which you will receive at registration) on your boat and the matching one on your wrist (along with your registration wristband).

Outdoor Adventure Clubs volunteers will help you unload your boat and place it on the edge of the parking lot in a secure area close to the boat ramp. The boat storage area will be patrolled Friday evening and overnight by an off duty law enforcement officer. Paddlefest is not responsible for any damage to boats left overnight on site.

Boat Pick Up: Outdoor Adventure Clubs volunteers will help you take your canoe or kayak out of the Ohio at the boat ramp at Gilday Riverside Park (3540 Southside Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45204) and place it in our “boat security” close to the parking lot for pick up.

Volunteers will also be available to help load your boat onto your vehicle- and will check your “boat check” tags to be sure they match before you leave the parking lot. Deadline to pick up your boat from the take-out is 2:30 p.m.  


Friday Night Parking
On-site parking for the Friday Paddler’s Party will be available with reserved spots for overnight campers. Parking spaces at Schmidt Recreation Complex are limited but additional parking can be found on adjacent streets and at Riverview East Academy.  Friday’s party is just a quick walk from Riverview East down the bike trail. Volunteers will be on-site to direct and assist with parking.
Optional Early Morning Shuttle
We have a limited number of pre-positioned parking spots at the Paddlefest take-out at Gilday Riverside Park. These parking spots are offered on a first come, first served basis on Saturday morning and include a Paddlefest Shuttle Bus back to the put-in at the Schmidt Recreation Complex. Parking at Gilday Riverside Park is FREE. Shuttles run from 6:00 – 7:30 a.m. to Schmidt and take about 20 minutes, so plan accordingly. Shuttles will not be offered after 7:30 am.

You will need to drop off your boat and complete your registration at Schmidt on Friday, August 3. The Shuttle bus will NOT be able to transport your canoe or kayak.

End of Event Shuttle Buses 
If you park Saturday morning at the put-in, you can take our free afternoon shuttle. Shuttle buses will take you back to your vehicle at the Schmidt Recreation Complex starting at 9:30 a.m. The LAST bus will leave from Gilday Riverside Park at 2:00 p.m. Paddlers must show their Paddlefest registration wristband to ride the shuttle bus.


Paddlers, grab your friends and family and join us for a great night by the river on the evening before Paddlefest!  Starting at 4:00 pm at Schmidt Recreation Complex, paddlers can complete their registration and pick up their goodie bag with Paddlefest t-shirt.  If you have your own boat, drop it off in our secure boat staging area.

Then stick around and enjoy all the fun our Friday Night Paddler’s Party has to offer
Live Music – Food Trucks – Local Craft Beer – Exhibitors – Gear Swap – Raffle
Camping: Camp alongside the river on the eve of Paddlefest, following our Friday Night Paddler’s party. Reserve your site online as part of your Paddlefest registration process. If space permits, camping sites can be purchased on Friday night.  

Each camping reservation permits one vehicle to park overnight at Schmidt Recreation Complex. Reserve accordingly. NO WATER OR ELECTRICAL HOOKUPS FOR RVS.



After finishing our 9.0 mile float, enjoy our Finish Line Festival, complete with live music, food trucks, craft beer, refreshments, and vendors!  Shuttle buses back to Schmidt Recreation Complex will be waiting to transport you back to your car and volunteer teams will be on site to help you portage your boat from the water to your car.  The Festival runs until 2:00 pm, when the last shuttle departs.



Friday, August 3 – Paddler’s Party and Boat Drop Off at Schmidt Recreation Complex

4:00-8:00 pm – On-site registration, packet pickup, camping check-in & boat drop off 

4:00-9:00 pm – Paddler’s Party for a Cause: including live music, food trucks & craft beer.  Plus exhibitors, gear swap, and raffle.

Saturday, August 4 – Paddle the Ohio

6:00-7:30 a.m. – FREE Parking and optional early shuttle from take-out at Gilday Riverside Park (free parking) to Schmidt Recreation Complex put-in (NO shuttle service after 7:30 am from Gilday Riverside Park to Schmidt).

6:00-8:30 a.m. – On-site registration, packet pick-up, and boat drop off at Schmidt (free parking)

6:45 a.m. – Racers enter water

7:00-8:30 a.m. – Paddlers put-in and depart

8:00 a.m. – Deadline to claim rental boats

8:30 a.m. – Put-in closes

8:30-10:45 a.m. – Mill Creek Mile (30 min. round trip paddle, including the Barrier Dam and the MSD plant). Check out this preview of the trip!

9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. – Finish Line Festival at Gilday Riverside Park (music, food trucks, vendors/exhibitors, & craft beer)

9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. – Shuttle buses run back to Schmidt put-in

9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. – Boat pick-up at Gilday Riverside Park

11:00 a.m. – Presentation of race awards at Gilday Riverside Park

12:00 p.m. – Deadline for all boats to take-out at Gilday Riverside Park

12:00 p.m. – Ohio River reopens to barge and power boat traffic

2:00 p.m. – Last shuttle bus leaves Gilday Riverside Park for Schmidt put-in

2:00 p.m. – Deadline to pick up boats at Gilday Riverside Park take-out



Restrooms and Water: Restrooms and port-o-lets will be available at the put-in at the Schmidt Recreation Complex and at the take-out at Gilday Riverside Park. Water and port-o-lets will be available at the Half Way Celebration on the Covington shore at the confluence of the Licking and the Ohio. The Half Way Celebration with live music, refreshments and exhibits will be open from 8:00-10:30 a.m.

What to Bring: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses with a strap, water, cash for food and refreshments, shoes, waterproof camera, and an extra shirt. Please make sure you use sunscreen before you get into your boat. Water bottle refills will be available at the  Half Way Celebration and at the Finish Line Festival at Gilday Riverside Park.

What not to Bring: No alcohol and drugs, weapons, valuables you cannot afford to lose in the Ohio River!

Participate in America’s largest paddling trip!
Paddlefest 2017 brought a record number of paddlers to the Ohio.  We’re excited to set a new record in 2018!  We will start at Schmidt Recreation Complex in Cincinnati’s East End and take out at the Gilday Riverside Park.  Special thanks to our partners at the Cincinnati Recreation Commission who manage both sites.
Enjoy the FREE parking, easy boat drop off & pick up and the speedy shuttle bus ride back to your vehicle.
Along the paddling course you can explore the historic Mill Creek, paddle under 7 bridges, take in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky skylines, and enjoy the live music  on the water with “Rhythm on the River”.  Then relax at our Finish Line Festival (craft beer, food trucks, vendors & exhibits) before returning by shuttle to your vehicle.

On-line Registration Opens in January 2018!
If the Coast Guard deems the waters unsafe on August 4, Paddlefest will be rescheduled for the following Saturday, August 11.
The Ohio River Paddlefest is being sponsored and managed this year by Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, a non-profit organization connecting inner city teens to nature and the outdoors year round.  Paddlefest proceeds will support the work of OACGC in 20 area high schools in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  For more information about Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, go to and visit us on Facebook.


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!