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).
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.
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
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.
S-Curve 1.5 ft 10-14-14
@Big Pine Creek Rainsville to Twin Bridges (0.5-6.7 miles), IN(158.88KB .jpeg)
As of January, 2015, a USGS gauge now lies not far upstream of our put-in, giving very accurate info for this section. We are leaving the following info in place in case the gauge is only exists for a short time. (Often gauges are emplaced only to gather data for a few years, then go unfunded.)
The best indicator is to watch weather patterns, 'live' weather radar, and rainfall totals for the LaFayette, IN area. A boater's gauge is painted on the downstream end of the middle bridge pier in Rainsville. When there is rain there, the Hoosier Canoe Club Message Board has a board where actual readings of the painted gauge are posted. Some boaters report reasonable runs (and fun) at readings of 6" (usually skipping the first half-mile or so, which will be very boney). A reading of 1' gives a more enjoyable float trip with decent (tame) play possible. Two feet makes pretty good play, 3' is sweet. Above that is great, but gets pushy, and some of the features on the lower part of the run wash out (though some build to be very nice).
*The cited gauge is for the N.Fk.Vermilion in Illinois, which is the immediately adjacent watershed to the west of the Mud Pine / Big Pine. It is a relatively similar sized stream, and usually provides a pretty good indication of runnability here. Obviously, much will depend upon the track (and the overall width and size) of storms, so correlation is not assured. (I.E., cited gauge may imply river is too low when it may be runnable or vice versa.)
Boaters who frequent this reach have been reporting a pretty fair 'rule of thumb' is that each 1000cfs on the cited gauge equates to (roughly) a foot on the boaters gauge. Again, this correlation will not always be 100% 'on', but shouldn't be too far off most of the time.
Using this rule-of-thumb, the listed 'minimum' reflects this 6" level on the boater's gauge. While it is no doubt possible to float the stream less than this, it would be more of a bump-and-scrape swiftwater/flatwater trip than real whitewater.
The listed 'maximum' is only an indication of higher, pushier levels. Many boaters love these levels, and will look for this run to 'go purple'. In truth, with the requisite skill and knowledge of the river and the concerns any river in flood can pose, this reach should be boatable at virtually any high level.