A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Ohio: Licking River

Two kayaks paddle on a river past a large rock wall

The Licking River in Blackhand Gorge. Photo by Denise Natoli Brooks

Licking River
Main Branch

Location: The Licking River is a part of the Mississippi River watershed and is located in central Ohio near Newark.
How to access: The Riverview Reserve, a 110-acre nature preserve, has an accessible boat launch. From here, paddlers can access the easier section that goes through Blackhand Gorge. The whitewater section runs from Ridgely Tract Road to Dillon Falls.
Difficulty: The Licking River section that runs through Blackhand Gorge is primarily flatwater, with at most a Class I designation. The river’s whitewater section is considered easily navigable and is usually Class I to II, though Dillon Falls can be Class III with heavy rain.
Fun Facts: Jonathan Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, planted some of his first apple seeds and orchards in Licking County near the Licking River, according to an 1867 account.
Local Champion: The Licking County River Roundup is an annual river cleanup event started in 1988. The event temporarily ended in 2003, but was brought back in 2011 by city and county agencies and involves hundreds of volunteers. Visit their Facebook page to learn more about the upcoming cleanup in September!
More info: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources provides maps, directions and details at tinyurl.com/licking-river-ohio. Paddlers can also learn more at riverfacts.com. — Sam Kepple


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2019 — June/July

2019 — June/July