Canoe City MetroPark
75 N Leavitt Road, Leavittsburg, OH 44430
Canoe City MetroPark, situated near unincorporated downtown Leavittsburg, is the largest park in Warren Township, featuring 13.25 acres of woods along the Mahoning River. Visitors to the site can enjoy the view of the water from one of the park’s benches, fish from the riverbank or floating dock, host a cookout using one of the many grills and picnic tables scattered throughout the park, walk along paved walkways or rest under the generous shade of deciduous trees. The site offers a 22-car parking lot along with spaces for four boat trailers, an information kiosk, and a paved canoe launch.
Surrounding land uses include moderate-intensity residential, undeveloped woodland, and commercial retail. Ohio Cross State Bicycle Route J, which passes by Foster MetroPark further south, also runs by Canoe City MetroPark along N. Leavitt Road. With its proximity to the river and relatively flat land, most of Canoe City MetroPark is prone to seasonal flooding. Also, a small wetland area exists alongside N. Leavitt Road between the park’s main entrance and the Ohio Edison electrical substation service road.
The park has also been the annual site of the Mahoning River Run and the Mahoning Chili Run, each sponsored by Trumbull County Canoe Trails.
Canoe City has a long history of recreation. Early on, the park served as the site of Mahoning Park, a regionally-popular amusement park. Eventually, the amusement park closed and its structures dwindled away. Over time, however, the area became popular with canoeists. In part because of the need to portage around the Leavittsburg Dam, canoeists routinely attained permission from Ohio Edison to use the area as a stopping point along their treks up and down the Mahoning River. In 1984, a business person secured a lease from Ohio Edison to establish a private canoe livery on the northern section of the park. The operator referred to the establishment as Canoe City and constructed a wooden building to house the canoes where the business operated for some time. In June of 1993, Ohio Edison donated its N. Leavitt Road property to MetroParks and retained an easement for its substation facility.
Two dams were constructed at the park in the early 1900’s, the first being a small low-head dam placed along the north-to-south midpoint of the park. Years later, a larger low-head dam was built at the southern end of the park, raising the water levels high enough to submerge the upstream dam. The newer dam, today known as the Leavittsburg Dam, served to raise water levels in order to support an electric generation facility, remnants of which still exist and comprise part of the dam’s abutments. Eventually, the electric generation facility fell into obsolescence and was replaced with an electrical substation, which remains today. Though only around six-to-seven-feet high when the river is low, the dam is routinely submerged during seasonal floods.
The existing structures on the property are in good condition aside from the lack of potable water. Nearly all of the work required to maintain the existing park is performed by the lessee of the park’s boathouse. Recent park improvements have included tree removal and the installation of a kiosk. Fishing is one of the park’s most popular activities along with canoeing. Visitors can also enjoy the park’s walking trails, and picnic areas.
Signage along the river clearly indicates that all watercraft should exit the river before reaching the warning buoys located near the southern edge of the park in order to avoid the Leavittsburg Dam. MetroParks installed the warning buoys in 2006, purchased through a grant from the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Natural Resources.
Canoe City is located entirely within a floodplain, and, therefore, any future development would have to consider the high potential for flooding. While the popular park already has much to offer visitors, future development could include additional services, such as a livery service to transport canoeists upstream. Furthermore, there are also opportunities to extend the current trail in order to accommodate an on-site portage, as no trail or pathway presently exists to take canoeists around the Leavittsburg Dam.