Mad River Run

In-river feature combines recreation and conservation

Updated Oct. 6, 2023Mad River Run Logo

This spring-fed river is known as a premier paddling spot for the region — in part because of the Mad River Run. This human-built structure spans the waterway and includes two passageways. It improves access to the river for recreational purposes and to the aquatic habitat and safety characteristics of the Mad River.

The Class II Mad River Run passageways contain fast-moving water with easily avoided rocks, holes and waves. Many paddlers access the Mad River at Eastwood MetroPark and travel four miles of uninterrupted flow to RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton.

The Mad River Run shifted in spring 2023, which changed the wave feature. However, the river remains navigable. The change in the paddling feature has lowered the water level approximately 20 yards upstream from the Mad River Run feature, exposing a water pipe across the river. The pipe can be paddled over at most water levels or paddlers can portage on river right.

MetroParks currently is assessing the condition of the feature, and a consultant has been engaged to develop a plan for the best course of action. The consultant also will address bank stabilization around the Mad River Run as part of the long-term solution. In addition, MetroParks closed some of the stone steps surrounding the Mad River Run for assessment and maintenance.

Because of the nature of the river environment, the evaluation process will take some time. At this point, MetroParks can’t guess the outcome of the assessment but will provide updates as they’re available. MetroParks does understand the Mad River Run is a popular feature with paddlers and anglers, as well as with river rescue groups that use the feature for training.

For now, MetroParks hopes visitors will continue to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Mad River, and enjoy paddling on and fishing in the Mad River. MetroParks recommends paddlers read this river info before embarking on their trip and use the play waves at the RiverScape River Run whitewater feature downtown.

The human-built Mad River Run opened in 2013. A generous $100,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Dayton funded part of the construction.

The Mad River is vital to Five Rivers MetroParks’ commitment to outdoor recreation and conservation leadership efforts to protect the region’s natural resources. Protection of river corridors provides critical habitat for wildlife to thrive and for the community to discover the wonders of nature.

Your regional recreation destination

Recreational Paddling

Kayakers and canoeists who are interested in recreational paddling can put in at Eastwood’s Harshman Road put in and take out near RiverScape MetroPark, just below the Riverside Drive bridge or the Interstate 75 bridge — passing through the RiverScape River Run along the way.


Those interested in fishing will benefit from deep water holes, where fish tend to concentrate to stay out of the river current as well as over-winter. It’s a place for anglers to seek fish pooled above and below the run and enables fly anglers to hone their skills with the calmness of the waters.

Learn more about paddling paddling opportunities in the MetroParks.

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