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Mohican River Valley - 10/26/2012

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Byron Scarbrough, Outdoors page writer

The sunshine cascades down upon me in bright streams reaching through the golden treetops. Drifting down the Mohican in my kayak this week, virtually alone, just my casting rod as a companion, the season settles in with me. I drift past a clump of red maple leaves fallen on the water, only the sounds of my paddling and the excited chattering of a squirrel on a limb overhead. Where has the summer gone, where are all the tourists, how could I be alone on this magnificent piece of water that supports so many summer liveries? It is autumn, no doubt. My jacket now wears its buttoned-in wool liner, the wind now brings a chill, and the Mohican River Valley is as beautiful a place as Nature has made.

I began to think about the word “lazy” as it relates to rivers. A river is a place full of sunshine and laughter, of teenagers swinging out on a rope over their swimming hole. A river is a place of canoes and camping and nature. Lazy doesn’t live here, lazy stayed home in his chair watching TV with potato chip crumbs all over his work shirt. When I’m thigh deep in my waders, just below Pleasant Hill Lake and I think of the passing mountain bikes, the canoes, the horseback riders, birdwatchers, the zip lines, the hikers, the hunters of mushrooms or deer…I haven’t seen lazy all day!

If I had two weeks with just one thing to do each day, I still couldn’t get bored here. At the heart of the area is covered bridge on Park Road. Looking downstream is what I consider the prime picnic spots for miles around, right along the river. In all Northern Ohio there is no more picturesque a place to grill out, sit in a covered Adirondack and enjoy a trail lunch.

I came upon a young family carving their jack-o-lanterns here this week, and I have to tell you, I thought it a stroke of genius. No mess at home, the squirrels get a tasty meal of pumpkin seeds, everyone gets to enjoy the fresh autumn air and, maybe best of all, no scrubbing the sticky kitchen table!

If you forgot your fishing pole, you’re missing out. Just in front of you is one of the best spots for catching Brown Trout that I know. Every October for the last 20 years the state has stocked this portion of the river with ten thousand fingerling trout. Wear your chest waders because there are some holes, but this stretch of the river has a gravel bottom and is generally shallow. Go upstream a little, catfish and suckers can be caught on the upstream side of the bridge just by sinking a night crawler or shad. Go a little farther upstream, just beneath the dam and you’re in a hotspot for saugeye and even the occasional striper.

But let’s say there’s something wrong with you and you don’t like to fish. Go back to the bridge and you’re on the loop of one of Northern Ohio’s great public mountain biking trails. If you run the entire rim it’s about 25 miles. It’s a woodsy trail, to be sure, so low branches and downed trees are sometimes part of the course but this trail is well maintained, scenic and a bit of a challenge for beginners.

When you talk about the Mohican, everyone thinks about canoeing and now’s the time you can enjoy a little quiet on the water. Most liveries are still open through the end of October so you still have a chance to get in a 12 mile cruise without the crowd. There is no better way to enjoy the colors of the season than from a view on the river. I’m a fisherman, I often want to get into a particular place and I find a kayak more maneuverable but if you’re a novice, if you have kids along, or you just want to drift you may find that a canoe is the way to go.

The sun goes down behind the hills long before it sets in the Mohican valley, but the season is short, the colors are stunning, and you’re out of excuses. Get Outdoors!

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