Paddling the Mill Creek

Paddling past Northside on the Mill CreekYesterday was a beautiful day to canoe down the Mill Creek.

You might be asking yourself if there is ever a day that is warm enough, beautiful enough and worth- the-possible-health-risks enough to ever go within 10 feet of Cincinnati’s most notorious waterway. And you’d be right, or at least partially correct. But I am a reporter, I’m a little crazy and I must sacrifice myself for the readers of The Post and Report This! so that the truth can be known.

And the truth? It’s beautiful, it’s pretty clean and it’s a hidden gem among the mostly industrial wasteland that it meanders through.

We got in at the Mitchell Avenue exit of Interstate 75 and paddled – more than six miles – all the way down to the Mill Creek Pumping Station, next to Spinney Field in Lower Price Hill.

I saw lots of things yesterday I never thought I would see on the Mill Creek. For example, hundreds of carp spawning as farYacht Club membership ceremony up as Northside. They were everywhere. A bird watcher in one canoe spotted 44 different species of birds, including Wood ducks, Mallard ducks, geese and several dozen goslings, herons, cardinals. We saw turtles, groundhogs, snakes swimming in the creek and lots of evidence of beavers who have chewed trees along the banks.

Sadly, there is a big pile of trash – so thick it could not be canoed through – near the mouth of the Mill Creek where it pours into the Ohio. Those photos are particularly amazing and disturbing. It also smelled awful from the dead animalMill Creek Yacht Clubs floating in the water. The photos tell visually that part of the story, so check them out. But, keep in mind, that was a tiny sliver of an otherwise beautiful stream.

I’ll save some for my story, which I hope to have in the paper tomorrow. But, as the handshake photo formally demonstrates , I am now officially a member of the Mill Creek Yacht Club – t-shirt and all (that photo is the long-and-short of their official induction ceremony). Special thanks to Bruce Koehler, shaking my hand in the photo above, for inviting me on the trip.
NOTE: To see images from the trip, click on either photo to be taken to a set.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

2 thoughts on “Paddling the Mill Creek”

  1. Thanks for the tour. I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do that.

    I once photographed a stream that ran off of the Mill Creek in Elmwood Place. The color was a radioactive green.

    The creek is particularly beautiful up above Elmwood Place, but south of there it’s just a nightmare.

  2. Kevin–

    I was expecting about the same as you experienced and saw nothing of the kind (aside from the trash heap near the mouth). It is a gorgeous waterway, getting better all the time.

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