How Deep Is Ohio’s Maumee River?

Written by Telea Dodge
Published: September 25, 2023
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According to the Duke Nicholas Institute, there are over 250,000 rivers flowing through the United States. That’s a whole lot of rivers, and some of them are impressive enough to claim international fame. The Mississippi River, for example, is the second-longest river in the United States and is the largest watershed in all of North America. Its length is only bested by one mile, and the Missouri River claims the title of the longest river in the United States. A river doesn’t have to be large to be mighty. Several small rivers populate the nation and still get a lot of attention. The Willamette River in Oregon, for example, is the lifeblood of the Willamette Valley, including cities such as Portland and Salem. Today, we’ll look at another small but mighty river. The Maumee River, which flows through Toledo, Ohio, drains into Lake Erie. How deep is the Maumee River? What’s so special about it? We’ll answer these questions – and more – as we explore the Maumee River, so read on!

About the Maumee River

Infographic of Maumee River
Check out these quick facts about the Maumee River.

The Maumee River is a 137-mile river that flows northeast. It begins its journey at the confluence of two other rivers – the St. Marys and the St. Joseph Rivers. These rivers converge in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and help to create the largest watershed drainage basin in the Great Lakes Watershed. We said “small but mighty”, and we meant it. The river has an 8,316 square-mile drainage basin. The river officially ends at its merging point with Maumee Bay. This bay is the entrance to Lake Erie through the waterways of Toledo, Ohio.

The river was not always called the Maumee. “Maumee” is an anglicized spelling of the Ottawa name for the Miami Indians, and the river transitioned from being named “The Miami River” to the “Maumee River”. The original name proved to be too confusing – there was already a Miami river flowing through southern Ohio. Attempts to reduce confusion began poorly – the Miami River in southern Ohio became “the Miami of Ohio” while the Miami River in the north was “the Miami of the Lake”. Eventually, the northern Miami River was renamed the Maumee River.

The Maumee River flows through the eastern edge of Indiana into Ohio. It continues northwest through Defiance, Ohio, until it widens and reaches the southeastern corner of Toledo. Then, it empties into Lake Erie. The River has a few tributaries, including the Tiffin River. The Tiffin runs nearly 55 miles in a northerly direction.

How Deep is the Maumee River?

Sunrise over the Maumee River

The Maumee River is an important habitat for many animal species in Indiana and Ohio.

©Jules Shoots/

Like all other rivers, the average depth of the Maumee is dependent on a lot of external factors, such as precipitation and location. Some areas of the Maumee River are only a couple of inches deep, while other portions are several feet deep. Despite being the largest Great Lakes watershed, the average depth of the river is actually quite shallow. We spent some time studying depth maps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey for the Maumee River to find its maximum depth.

From this research, we found a maximum depth of 30 feet in downtown Toledo, Ohio. We suspect that the river reaches its maximum depth here due to its proximity to Maumee Bay. Maumee Bay is very shallow and so is the mouth of the Maumee River, sometimes reaching as little as one foot deep. The average depth of the Maumee River greatly depends on location. In some areas, the average depth is less than two feet, while in others it is about 10-12 feet.

Where is the Maumee River on a Map?

We explained the path of the Maumee River in a previous section, but it’s still great to have access to a visual. We wanted to be sure to show an accurate depiction of the river, so we’ve included three interactive maps of where it flows. The first is in Toledo, Ohio, where it widens before it meets Lake Erie. This area is where the river is the deepest.

Next, we’ll look at Defiance, Ohio.

There she is again, giving life to a city. Many towns and cities are built by rivers for the same reason that a larger number of animals often exists by them – water gives life to us all. Without clean, fresh water, we wouldn’t be able to survive. Early settlers of North America already knew this, and you’ll find most of the major cities in the country have water flowing through them.

Finally, let’s take a look at where the Maumee River begins – Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Zoom in near downtown Fort Wayne to see the conflunece of rivers and the beginning of the Maumee River. Fort Wayne is rich in waterways and boasts the headwaters of the Maumee.


white-tailed deer

White-tailed deer are one of the many species that can be spotted along the banks of the Maumee River.

©Tom Reichner/

As we know, riparian areas are prime habitats for a large variety of creatures. The Maumee River gives extra life to this area of Ohio and grants sanctuary for many fish and amphibious species. The city of Toledo sees a lot of urban wildlife, such as squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and rabbits. In the waters of the Maumee, a variety of fish swim. Now, it’s good to note that a shallow river has much less room for fish to thrive. Shallow water faces water quality issues that fish cannot escape from. Thankfully, cleanup efforts are being made and the Maumee River has plenty of room for fish such as smallmouth bass, white bass, walleye, and flathead catfish. Turtles swim in the shallow water. In fact, there are twelve species of turtle in Ohio and many of them find their way to the Maumee.

Red-backed salamanders, snakes, and other sneaky animals make their homes around the river, too. Small animals aren’t the only residents of the area. The Maumee River is a great home for otters, and white-tail deer and the occassional coyote find their way to the banks. What about birds? An incredible number of birds spend their time in the area. Bald eagles, lark sparrows, warblers, wild turkeys, and ducks are just some of the species you might spot. According to Metroparks Toledo, over 300 species of migratory birds find their way to the Maumee River and the surrounding areas to join a whole host of local animals.

You might also catch a glipse of the crititally endangered Karner blue butterfly. All in all, the area is a great place to stop and watch local and migratory wildlife.

Recreation on the Maumee River

There is plenty to do along the Maumee River, particularly in Toledo. The American Rivers project claims that the Maumee River is on the brink of a recreational renaissance. This is, in part, because Metroparks Toledo has made enormous efforts to highlight the beauty and importance of the river. This includes the developments of the Maumee River Water Trail. This incredible trail stretches for 107 miles. It begins at Maumee Bay and runs all the way to the Ohio-Indiana border. The trail serves to connect several parks and offer several river access points.

Five of Toledo’s Metroparks rest along or near the river trail, including Side Cut Metropark and Middlegrounds Metro Park. Three wildlife areas and three state parks are also connected to the trail, including Mary Jane Thurston State Park and the North Turkeyfoot Wildlife Area. 15 additional public parks are also connected to this trail. In fact, you can access the trail in 39 difference places, each with its own set of amenities and wonders. Havre a picnic, find a place to boat or kayak, or go fishing. Take a hike along the banks of the river and check out some pristine wildlife viewing and birdwatching.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/

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About the Author

Telea Dodge is an animal enthusiast and nature fiend with a particular interest in teaching a sense of community and compassion through interactions with the world at large. Carrying a passion for wild foraging, animal behaviorism, traveling, and music, Telea spends their free time practicing their hobbies while exploring with their companion dog, Spectre.

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