Skip to site content
Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader Group Travel Leader

Ohio: Floating on the river

The ancient Hopewell people, also known as the Mound Builders, picked a spot for one of their major towns at the top of a steep gorge on the Little Miami River, north of present day Cincinnati.

“They picked it because it was so steep, it is the highest place in the whole region,” said Gary Morgan, whose family owns and operates Morgan’s Outdoor Adventures.

Morgan’s company offers raft trips that are a combination of scenery and history down the Little Miami, a state and national designated scenic river.

“It is a class I river, which means it is not whitewater,” said Morgan. “It has a nice, clear flow to it.”
The trips in 10-person, noncapsizable rafts pass large growths of virgin sycamores. “They are giant sycamores, big white towering trees that have never been logged,” said Morgan. “They have reached their mature growth; some are 300 years old.

“The hills come right down to the river. In the spring they are littered with trillium and phlox and flowering redbuds and dogwoods. It is a beautiful river, and you will see a lot of wildlife.”

The float trips go through the steep gorge beneath the Hopewell site, which is preserved at Fort Ancient State Historic Site.

“We work in conjunction with the park, and a lot of times a group will tour the museum at Fort Ancient before our trip,” said Morgan.

The Fort Ancient site preserves 18,000 feet of earthen walls built 2,000 years ago. The museum has several interactive exhibits that focus on 15,000 years of American Indian history in the Ohio Valley.

Groups can get guided tours of the museum and step-on guided tours of the site, including a 200-foot-diameter circle made from wooden posts that is undergoing extensive archaeological study.

The tour includes a stop at an overlook that provides a sweeping view of more than 3.5 miles of the Little Miami River Valley. The education continues as groups proceed to Morgan’s and float through the valley they have just seen from above.

“We take examples of artifacts with us and stop along the way and discuss how arrowheads are made, for example,” said Morgan. “We talk about the interesting aspects of their culture, which dates to the time of the Mayans.

“We are the only people who have this product. We specialize in bringing out the history of the valley and the Native Americans.”

The three-hour trips, which run April through October, include lunch. Although Morgan’s company also runs canoe and kayak tours on the river, he said the rafts are best suited to large groups and the history and archaeological talks.