Big Pine Creek, Indiana, US
|Usual Difficulty||II+(III) (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||13 fpm|
|Max Gradient||39 fpm|
|BIG PINE CREEK AT PINE VILLAGE, IN|
|usgs-033356848||250 - 5000 cfs||II-III+||00h58m||2080 cfs (running)|
|High-moderate flows. (Perhaps 2' to 3' on Rainsville gauge.) Gauge (172 sq.mi.drainage) is 6.6 miles upstream, so should be fairly accurate (at least for the early part of this run).|
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 Nature.org, or by Email: Indiana@tnc.org.
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.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|3.5||All Day Wave||II|
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.
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.
A bedrock ledge/intrusion creates a sweet wave here. Boaters exclaim "You could surf all day on this," hence the name.
At high water, this area contains some wild wonderful waves.