St. Joseph (L.Michigan trib) - East Race Whitewater Course (0.35 mile)

St. Joseph (L.Michigan trib), Indiana, US


East Race Whitewater Course (0.35 mile)

Usual Difficulty II+ (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 12 fpm
Max Gradient 30 fpm

Brian out of his kayak and in Dan's canoe?

Brian out of his kayak and in Dan's canoe?
Photo of Brian by Dan Koontz taken 7-?-00

River Description

A cement-lined whitewater course (run by South Bend Parks & Recreation) built in the old millrace on the east bank of the St.Joseph river at a large dam (hence the name, the East Race). There is just about 12 feet of drop down its 1900' length, which (if it went a mile) would be around 30 foot per mile of drop. Various partial-dams, fiberglass pylons and stop-blocks bolted to the cement bottom help create a series of whitewater features. The drops are generally not large, and width stays quite uniform, so current stays pretty fast all the way down. The best play spots all have eddy service, though most eddies are small and pulsating. Sidewalks and bridges all along the race allow spectators to walk the whole course as well as providing boaters an easy walk to the top for repeat runs. Its a good place to learn and practice skills for when you get a chance to hit real rivers. During the summer hours, just show up and pay your money (cash only!) to paddle one of the few places you can go and have rescue people ready to help you if you need it. There are lots of good paddlers at the race and most are more than willing to help out the new boaters if they want it.

The Race is open to the public weekends only during the summer months.
2017 Schedule: Open through August 27th, Saturdays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sundays 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., plus Sunday, September 3: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday, September 10: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Rafting Fee: $5.00 per person, per ride. (Using park's provided rafts and paddles.)
Kayaking Fee: $15.00 per day (MUST SUPPLY ALL OWN EQUIPMENT)

Times listed are Eastern Daylight Time. Paddlers coming from Wisconsin and Illinois need to recognize this is a one-hour shift from Central Time.

Go to South Bend Parks - East Race for the current details.

There is also a club in town that can get access to the course a couple days midweek, as well as weekends during the 'offseason'. See for more info. You need to register as a member of the Yahoo!Group to read messages or see photos. There is no cost to do so. However, if you wish to actually join the club (not just the message board) and paddle the course with them (when it's not open to the public), there will be dues to pay and a waiver to sign. For 2015, these dues are $45, which include membership in ACA (for insurance purposes), which includes a subscription to Paddler magazine.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-08-04 13:53:31


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Drainage: ~3,587 sq.mi.N/A

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: ~3,587 sq.mi. (Class N/A)

Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 3,587 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software). This assures adequate flow for releases every weekend all summer, plus available water for the local club to have a couple 'private' releases every week.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
October 11 2009 (3389 days ago)
Brennan StinebuckDetails
This is a great place to go if you want to do some first time whitewater. The first wave is the
biggest, you can do some surfing in it. The second wave is the wave that everyone plays at. There
are two other waves at the end of the course that are good to surf. The Dam is a place to learn
your spins and surf, it is only about a foot deep. So if you just wanna paddle for a few hours or
even go down in an inflatable kayak, I recommend that you go to the East Race. It is only opened at
a certain time.