Burning River Tour

The Cuyahoga is Lit

Paddle the River where Cleveland was born, burned, and is rising from the ashes of its industrial past!   This tour departs from Rivergate Park, one of the few access points for kayaks and paddleboards along the Cuyahoga River and home to the Cleveland Rowing Foundation and Merwin’s Wharf.

Starting in the shadow of the Columbus Road bridge, we’ll paddle “downbound” on the Cuyahoga River, sharing this urban waterway with vessels big and small.   Along the way we’ll paddle under some of the Cuyahoga’s most iconic bridges–including the Center Street swing bridge–before heading into the Flats entertainment district.  From there, the tour heads into the Old River Channel, where you’ll paddle past the Great Lakes Towing dry docks and towering sand dunes left from Cleveland’s Cargill salt mine.

Paddle Distance

About 5 nautical miles


3 hours (approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes of paddling)

Guide to Participant Ratio


What You'll See

An urban waterway complete with ore boats, tugs, and other commercial ships; up close views of six of Cleveland’s bridges;  panoramic views of the Cleveland skyline, and close up views of the Lorenzo Carter cabin, Settler’s Landing, Nautica Pavilion, and the Flats, and Great Lakes Towing dry docks and the Cargill Salt Mines.  You’ll also a surprising amount of  wildlife including: Great Blue Heron, Double-Crested Cormorants, Arctic Terns, and Wood Ducks.

Conditions to Expect

This paddle stays on the Cuyahoga River, so conditions are always flat.   We will need to make way for large commercial vessels, however.

What's Included

Single or tandem sea kayak and equipment (paddle, life-jacket, whistle, spray skirt, and white safety light).

Meeting Location

This tour meets on the Cuyahoga River dock just behind Merwin’s Wharf restaurant in Cleveland Metropark’s Rivergate Park.


Skill Level

No experience necessary.  This tour is appropriate for beginners who are comfortable on the water and accustomed to moderate exercise.

Age Limits

14 and over only, please. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants ages 12 and over may participate as the front paddler in a tandem with an adult.

Height and Weight Limits

In order to ensure your comfort and safety, participants should be between 5′ and 6’4″ tall and 95 lbs to 235 lbs.

Non-Discriminatory Essential Eligibility Criteria

In order to participate in this program, each participant must satisfy the following essential eligibility criteria: 

  • Be able to independently participate in all individual skills and activities while also maintaining an appropriate and safe body position.
  • Be able to hold their breath while under water and, while in the water wearing a properly fitted lifejacket, be able to independently turn from a face down to a face up position keeping their head above water. 
  • Be able to effectively communicate with the instructor and other program participants. 
  • Be able to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a companion.
  • Be able to manage all personal mobility independently, or with the assistance of a companion.