Big Pine Creek - Rainsville to Twin Bridges (0.5-6.7 miles)

Big Pine Creek, Indiana, US


Rainsville to Twin Bridges (0.5-6.7 miles)

Usual Difficulty II+(III) (varies with level)
Length 6.7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 13 fpm
Max Gradient 39 fpm

IN, Big Pine, S-Curve

IN, Big Pine, S-Curve
Photo taken 01/09/05 @ 1ft Rainsville bridg

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-033356848 250 - 5000 cfs II+(III) 00h55m 110 cfs (too low)
Almost certainly too low for reasonable whitewater. (Flatwater may be paddled at almost any flow.) Gauge (172 sq.mi.drainage) is 6.6 miles upstream, so should be fairly accurate (at least for the early part of this run).

River Description

In what most folks think of as the 'flatlands' in Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis, this run has considerable merit for its play potential and its scenery.

The run begins less than a mile southeast of Rainsville, where a gravel 'ford' (to cross thru the river at low water) exists. The creek is quite uniformly wide, and trips across a bedrock base in the next quarter-mile to create numerous playable waves. In general there is a lack of eddy service, so most features tend to be catch-on-the-fly, one-shot play, or a fight to regain, or a carry-up to re-play.

After the opening sequence, a few more playable waves (strung out a bit more than the first series) lead to S-curve. The river turns left, where it encounters a bedrock ledge extending at least halfway across the stream from river-right. At low water (under 2.5') the ledge will be dry, funneling all the water to the left, creating a playable wave/hole followed by good current through the large pool below, heading toward a wall of rock (the left bank) where it is diverted back to the right to proceed downstream. At high water (somewhere above 4'?) water will pour over the ledge on river right to create a potentially nasty, uniform hole. Beware!

The gradient then dies down for an extremely scenic float until the next features. The stream is regularly flanked on one or both sides by rocky bluffs (I believe mostly sandstone and shale). The presence of mostly deciduous trees make this an extraordinarily beautiful reach to paddle in fall.

Eventually one encounters a few more playable features in the lower stretch. The best of these are All Day Wave and Hawaii 5-0.

Many local boaters just do the initial 0.6 mile of river as a 'park-and-play', carrying up the country road which parallels this part of the river. However, the scenery of the rest of the run and the good eddy service for the playspots on the lower river make it worthwhile to do the full run.

Additionally, at the take-out at Twin Bridge, a side stream (Fall Creek) flows through a Nature Conservancy preserve. It has cut a very interesting gorge filled with potholes in the bedrock, and makes an enjoyable side hike at the end of your trip.
Note: While it may appear tempting (if it has enough water) to carry up and boat this reach, be aware that all the best legal opinion suggests it is illegal to do so. There is a specific 'no swimming or wading' provision in force (subject to a fine, reportedly $90 per violation), as well as the fact that the stream is deemed "not navigable" according to state law.
For more information, check out the Natural Resources Commission - Navigability webpage.
Additional information about The Nature Conservancy, and this preserve, can be obtained at, or by Email:

The following slide-show presentation (of an April 2007 outing, from 'BoilerBlues', via YouTube) gives a fine feel for the features and the beauty of the run.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-01-28 13:01:35


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1Rocky FordIIPlayspot Photo
0.6S-CurveII+Playspot Photo
3.5All Day WaveIIPlayspot
6.3Hawaii Five-OhPlayspot

Rapid Descriptions

Rocky Ford (Class II, Mile 0.1)

IN, Big Pine, Rocky ford flat spin

IN, Big Pine, Rocky ford flat spin
Photo of Chris Clark by whth20

The put-in is at a 'ford' (low-water crossing) in the river. Immediately the boater encounters a fine series of ledges, waves, and holes. Many are playable (at good flows), but few have any eddy service, meaning most will be 'catch-on-the-fly', 'one-and-done' play. Not a problem, because the next wave/hole is always just downstream.

S-Curve (Class II+, Mile 0.6)

IN, Big Pine, S-Curve

IN, Big Pine, S-Curve
Photo taken 01/09/05 @ 1ft Rainsville bridg

At most levels, this is the biggest and best playable feature on the run. A bedrock ridge extends from the right shore. At low-to-moderate flows, it diverts all water into a couple good waves and a wave/hole. Downstream current pushes through a large eddy and heads into the river-left wall/bank. At higher flows, water will spill over the ledge, and may form a bigger wave/hole.

All Day Wave (Class II, Mile 3.5)

A bedrock ledge/intrusion creates a sweet wave here. Boaters exclaim "You could surf all day on this," hence the name.

Hawaii Five-Oh

At high water, this area contains some wild wonderful waves.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
January 22 2017 (730 days ago)
DavidET (158404)
On 1/22/2017, 12.1 ft/1940 cfs at Pine Village was just over 4' on Rainsville Bridge. A correlation
from Ed R. Pine V. = Rainsville Br. (ft = ft): 13' = 4.5'; 12' = 4'; 11' = 3'; 10' = 2'.5'; 9' =
1.75 to 2.0'; 8' = 1'; 7' = 0.5'
March 27 2015 (1397 days ago)
circuitmonkey (151431)
New Gauge: Correlation to old gauge:
May 11 2014 (1717 days ago)
tstrohmeyer (156478)
I ran this 5/10/14 (@173 cfs) out of desperation for some swift water, being based out of the
flatlands of Champaign, IL. Just ran a 'PnP' from the twin bridges take-out and attained a 1/4 mile
or so until the last three sets of ledges, there was just enough water to dig a blade in and ferry
across the little waves. With the beautiful weather it was certainly worth the drive! Especially if
you were coaching a beginner or for someone like me trying to get comfortable with eddy turns and
ferrying in an open boat (recently traded in my LL playboat for a canoe when I moved to Illinois).
The last ledge I was able to surf with my dagger impulse! This was the bare minimum level, but I'd
go back at 200 cfs for sure. Looking for new paddlers to meet up with since I'm new to the area,
let me know if anyone's going there in the future!
April 6 2010 (3213 days ago)
According to a post on the HCC message board: "the cliffs on river right between All Day Wave & the
1850 Rock were more undercut than we had noticed before. ...the "cave" ... just before the left
hand turn that leads into the 1850 rock was severely undercut & at higher levels would easily trap
& keep someone under water. ... If someone were to take a very long swim off of All Day Wave this
has some potential to cause problems as well since the current would push you into these rocks."
February 18 2008 (3991 days ago)
Craig NyquistDetails
The lower WW section of the Big Pine from the Harrison Bridge (Below the confluence of the Mud Pine
and Big Pine) to Twin Bridges, can be run at much lower levels than the Rocky Ford S-curve section.
Down to around 200cfs on the Vermillion gage. It offer some fun class 1 Rapids and ledges with good
easy surfing and is a very scenic paddle. In fact this section is excelent when the upper section
is getting too low to run. Around 0.5? on the Chuck Weis (Rainsville Bridge) gage.