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I want to travel by canoe from Pittsburgh Pa to Wheeling, West Virginia on the Ohio river.

What are the navigation considerations? Also I will have a bike and trailer for the canoe, will be interested in bike trails paralleling or intersecting the river.

  • Locks and Dams
  • Camping/accommodations
  • Launches
  • River side services (away from large cities)

Hypothetically the trip would be completed, with only muscle power, rowing or pedaling. In either a single trip or by pedaling upstream and rowing down stream, in one or more outings.

Related (downstream) What are the navigation considerations on the Ohio River between Wheeling WV and Parkersburg WV?
Related (upstream) What are the navigation considerations on the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers between Ohiopyle State Park (PA) and Pittsburgh PA?

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This answer is focused to a bike and canoe combination. Camping areas appear to be appropriate but I have not contacted or visited them. It is the result of several hours searching the internet, I have not been to any of these locations in person. No warranty is made about the accuracy of the information but all appears to be correct.

The Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh PA at the junction of Allegheny River and Monongahela River

The river distance from Pittsburgh, PA to Wheeling, WV is 87.4 miles. Going downstream major points are

  • Point Pittsburgh, PA (0 mile)
  • Emsworth Dam (6.2 miles)
  • Dashelds Dam (13.3 miles)
  • Aliquippa (16.8 miles)
  • Beaver River (25.5 miles)
  • Montgomery Dam (31.7 miles)
  • East Liverpool, Oh (43.5 miles)
  • New Cumberland Dam (54.4 miles)
  • Steubenville, OH 68.0 (miles)
  • Pike Island L/D (84.2 miles)
  • Wheeling, WV (87.4 miles)

Distance Grid

Source Page 111 of; Ohio River Navigation Charts: New Martinsville, West Virginia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Bicentennial Commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, 2003-2006

There are more than 20 Launch points in the Pittsburgh Area, the four closest to the point all are on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail (bike path)

  • Mon Wharf Launch (17) - Access near the Smithfield St. Bridge. Pay parking lot is closed on weekends. Ramp Launch, Right bank of the Monongahela about 3,000 feet up from the Point
  • Station Square Marina (16) - Take out at the marina’s high docks for access to Station Square. (40.4350˚N, -80.0050˚W). Dock left bank of the Monongahela about 3,000 feet up from the Point
  • Clemente (6th Street) Bridge Launch (6) - Along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, hidden under Roberto Clemente (6th St.) Bridge next to PNC Park. Concrete ramp is home to Kayak Pittsburgh rentals and Venture Outdoors guided trips. Long carry down stairs or walkways. Limited on-street metered parking. (40.4466˚N, -80.0037˚W) Right bank of the Allegheny about 2,800 feet up from the Point
  • Heinz Quay Launch (1) - Along North Shore Riverfront Park at Heinz Field. Take out for North Shore attractions. Long carry from stadium parking lots. (40.4448˚N, -80.0151˚W) Right bank of the Ohio Just below the Point

enter image description here

Source Three Rivers Guide

Davis Island (small) & Neville Island (large) begin about 4.5 miles down from Pittsburgh, The Emsworth Dam and Lock will be on the right fork, the lock is on the right bank 6.2 miles down from Pittsburgh. The left fork has a Dam without a lock.

Emsworth Locks & Dams (lock on right bank)– Contacted November 28, 2014 – No direct portage available, civilians not allowed on walk. They expect you can lock through faster than a portage in any case.
0 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15202-1708
412-766-6213
Source http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/EmsworthLocksDams.aspx

Neville Island continues until Mile 9.5, after which there is one bridge (Sewickley) and two launches on the right bank a few hundred feet up and downstream from the bridge

  • Chestnut Street Launch (ramp) - Near the Sewickley Bridge, Chestnut Street ends in the Ohio River. 0.5 mi walk to the Beaver St. business district. (40.5338˚N, -80.1854˚W)
  • Walnut Street Launch (beach) - Access to Sewickley Riverfront Park. A 400’ carry leads to a dock and pebble beach. 0.5 mi walk to the Beaver St. business district. (40.5354˚N, -80.1884˚W)

Source Three Rivers Guide

Dashields Locks & Dam (lock on Left bank) – 13 miles from Pittsburgh, 1.5 miles from Sewickley bridge
100 Dashields Lock Road
Coraopolis, PA 15108-5417
724-457-8430
Source http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/DashieldsLocksDam.aspx

Leetsdale Boat Ramp (right bank) – 1.5 miles down from Dashields lock (local fee use area $100 fine http://ecode360.com/11198327 )

Rochester Boat Ramp – Right bank, 1,500 feet up from Beaver River. In Rochester PA, it intersects the Ohio River Trail which at this point is a mostly a vision http://ohiorivertrail.org

Montgomery Locks and Dam – (lock on left bank – 6 miles from Beaver River)
100 Montgomery Dam Road
Monaca, PA 15061-2221
724-643-8400
Source http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/MontgomeryLocksDam.aspx

Ohioville Borough Boat Ramp – A few hundred feet up Little Beaver Creek (right inlet), about 8 miles down from Montgomery dam, will have passed one bridge and a couple of small islands. 2,000 feet down from Little Beaver creek is the PA Stateline, right Bank is Ohio, Left bank is West Virginia

No camping near the Ohio River is found in PA

Chester City (WV) Park (ramp), left bank & Broadway Wharf (East Liverpool OH) (ramp), right bank (4 miles down from Little Beaver Creek) – The Ohio one appears to be public, The WV one is Public http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/public_access.asp?county=Hancock&type=Public+Access+Sites&point=P22 Smith’s Landing Campground is 2,000 feet down stream (left bank), but does not offer tent camping or restrooms

Kennedy Marina Park – Campground and Marina (left bank) 7 miles down from Little Beaver Creek) http://www.kennedymarinapark.com/ 304 387 3063

New Cumberland Locks & Dam – (lock on right bank – 7.5 miles down from Kennedy Marina Park)
P.O. Box 159
Stratton, OH 43961-0159
740-537-2571
Source http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/NewCumberlandLocksDam.aspx

Empire Ohio right bank 1 mile down from New Cumberland Dam, begins first large sections of bike friendly roads and trails since Pittsburgh. (Toronto Empire Rd/Old State Hwy 7) – No clear public boat launch or beaches in the area (via Google Satellite)

New Cumberland WV Ramp – (left bank – 2 miles down from Dam) Public boat launch http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/public_access.asp?county=Hancock&type=Public+Access+Sites&point=P21 Is about 5 road miles from Tomlinson Run offers a 54-site campground 304-564-3787. The campground office is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. http://www.tomlinsonrunsp.com/accommodations.html

Browns Island marks the end of Toronto Ohio (right bank) as well as the Google marked section of bike friendly areas, it stretches 2.5 miles nearly to Steubenville Ohio (right fork is more scenic) Weirton WV is on the left bank, there should be a public ramp “City of Weirton 1/2 mile north of old U.S. Rt. 22 bridge” but I am not finding it on Google http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/public_access.asp?county=Brooke&type=Public+Access+Sites&point=P23 offer the potential for exiting the Ohio River and Google bike maps, imply the potential to return by bicycle to Pittsburgh (39 road miles)

Wellsburg West Virginia (left bank) is the beginning of the Yankee Trail, where it becomes the Brooke Pioneer Trail and then to the Wheeling Heritage Trails, running all the way to Wheeling WV. There is public ramp at the Wellsburg, water plant http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/public_access.asp?county=Brooke&type=Public+Access+Sites&point=P24

Pike Island Locks & Dam (lock on left bank – 30 miles down from New Cumberland Locks & Dam) Google did not indicate any public launches or ramps between these two dams.
RR #1, Box 33
Wheeling, WV 26003-9701
304-277-2127
Source http://www.lrp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/PikeIslandLocksDam.aspx

Wheeling WV & Wheeling Island. There is a public park on the left bank of the left fork of the river, shortly after passing under the I-70 Bridge (via Google Satellite). There are docks and gravelly beaches implying a take location. West Virginia DNR says there is a boat ramp with Ohio River access but I am not seeing it on Google or finding an address. http://www.wvdnr.gov/fishing/public_access.asp?county=Ohio&type=Public+Access+Sites&point=P25 this may be the “Wheeling Island Marina” that is on the right fork of the river, left bank of the island (island north west side) it is not clear if the Virginia St/10th st bridge is bike/pedestrian friendly.

Notes: Up and down, right and left Downstream always points to the end of a river, or its “mouth.” “Upstream” always points to the river’s source, or “headwaters.” As you look downstream, your right hand corresponds to “River Right.” Your left hand corresponds to “River Left.”
Source http://www.americanrivers.org/rivers/about/

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This Interactive Map Tool pinpoints all locks and dams, as well as paddling access and amenities, including boat launches on the Ohio River:

enter image description here

There are at least two tenting campgrounds by the water about halfway between Pittsburg and Wheeling near East Liverpool: Smiths Landing Campground & Yellow Creek. Then another just past Wheeling: DC Ventures. There are also a few trailer and RV parks along the way.

I would recommend acquiring the appropriate river charts, these charts identify all docks on the river, which would be your best bet for finding services on the banks of the river: Ohio River Navigation Charts: New Martinsville, West Virginia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Bicentennial Commemoration of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, 2003-2006

enter image description here enter image description here

Considering your proximity to civilization on the Ohio River, you could probably take advantage of a maps app on your smartphone or on a vehicle GPS device to find amenities when you need them.

  • Thank you for your answer, it got me started. The interactive link you start with takes a long time to load, and did not add any value. The Ohio River Navigation chart is very neat, but focused more on heavy commercial motorized usage, so was of limited value. The Yellow Creek Camp Ground, did not look very attractive and there were others in the area so I did not include it in my answer. – James Jenkins Nov 28 '14 at 18:21
  • I can't speak for your internet connection, but the page only takes 3 seconds to load for me, and it pinpoints every Dam you have listed in your answer, as well as every single dam in the USA. You could use that tool to locate every dam you'll encounter on your 3000+ mile trip. – ShemSeger Nov 28 '14 at 18:44

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