In this video, my wife and I kayak the St. Joseph River in Pioneer, Ohio. This is one of two rivers by the same name in this same area. This one eventually flows into Lake Erie, the other, into Lake Michigan. Both start in Hillsdale County, Michigan about 18 miles north of Pioneer.
We put in at County Road R and pulled out at Oliver’s Bridge probably 200-300 yards north of the Ohio turnpike. The total trip took us just shy of 4 hours.
This wasn’t my favorite river in my kayaking career, but it did offer some unique features compared to other rivers in this same area. One of which was the really cool root structures that sort of loom above you on the banks as you paddle by.
It did have some of the features I have grown to love about rivers in this region. For the most part, they are unknown to the general population, so if you want a paddle experience away from people, this is a great place for that. It is also not uncommon to stumble across various wildlife as you paddle quietly down the river. Sandhill cranes, leather-back turtles, eagles, and all kinds of other birds can be seen and heard throughout the trip.
Also, I was very pleased to discover recently that there is a livery that is servicing the river quite faithfully, so obstructions should be taken care of for the most part. In talking to the livery owner, I was informed that he cleaned out most of the river the week before we paddled it. There were only two spots we had to portage, but for a paddle 3 weeks before the regular “season” opening (Memorial Day weekend), that’s not bad at all. Since then the livery owner let us know that he was going down to finish up before the season hit.
They offer various livery services at very reasonable rates, so please hit them up if you need transportation. They also service the river. (https://www.facebook.com/BRocksCanoeKayakRental)
The only two “issues” I had with this river were….
1) the mosquitoes! We didn’t prepare for them adequately, so we were swarmed. Wear bug spray and bring extra or plan accordingly.
2) Because this is in the middle of farm country, the river tends to be a bit silty. This means that if you have to get out of the boat for any reason, chances are you are going to get muddy. Bring appropriate footwear.
See you outdoors!