Once the weather warms up employees of Mad River Adventures will clean out flood debris and log jams to make the river navigable again. DERON CASTLE/CONTRIBUTED

Clark County canoe livery voted best in Ohio

Last month as online shoppers anxiously awaited delivery of presents, an unexpected UPS package from the Treasurer of the State of Ohio was delivered to Mad River Adventures, 5605 Old Lower Valley Pike. Opening it made the owners Deron and Kendle Castle a bit nervous, until they realized it was very good news.

Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague had sent a certificate officially congratulating Mad River Adventures for being selected by readers of Ohio Magazine as the best canoe and kayak livery in the state for 2020.

“This award came as a total surprise to us. We were completely unaware that we were even in the running. It truly is an honor to be named best canoeing and kayaking in Ohio, especially because we had such a rough start and a rough end to the season.”

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Farmers, gardeners, and outdoorsmen will indeed remember 2019 for its excessively wet muddy spring. Memorial Day is the normal opening of the canoe season but this year canoe trips didn’t start until almost July. The business also rose above another challenge.

“This year was very trying for us because we lost our founder, Roger Leasure, in September…” said Maggie Yowler, an employee of Mad River Adventures. “Being named best canoeing is definitely a testament to Roger and Deron’s dedication to excelling in the river business, and I hope we continue to make him (Leasure) proud.”

I asked what she felt had made this Clark County business stand out in the voting.

“I think we were chosen because we genuinely value our customers, not to mention having the best river in the state, that’s probably the main reason,” said Yowler.

“We strive to educate our customers about all the things our river has to offer, including its history and natural offerings. In our business, it’s truly not about the destination, but the memories you’ll make during the trip. The Mad River is a native trout stream so you can go fishing, find million year-old fossils, and see all kinds of wildlife. We even have a 100 year-old sunken trolley wreck from the old interurban line that ran from Dayton to Urbana which you can see when the water is low.”

Throughout the year employees and customers of this livery and other river enthusiasts spend many hours on the river clearing out debris from flooding and log jams. Maintaining navigation of this scenic river and keeping it natural are priorities for water enthusiasts, hikers, and cliff climbers.

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This caring for the environment was also noted by Sprague when he recognized their “commitment to preserving nature and providing a unique experience for visitors.”

Mad River Adventures was the only Clark County venue to make the magazine’s annual list. The next nearest selection on the list was Lincoln and Main Restaurant, 624 N Main St, Urbana which was selected by the readers as best Outdoor Dining/Patio.

The complete list of Ohio Magazine’s Best of Ohio Readers Ballot for 2020 can be found in the January issue or online at ohiomagazine.com.

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