One testament to the popularity of this river is the fact that a number of canoe liveries and campgrounds are scattered along the river. Another testament is the various conflicting assertions we've received regarding where put-in and take-out 'should be', and where whitewater boaters might find the 'best' features or run to focus on. As a result, we have laid out a wide variety of access points, allowing for trips of various lengths, to suit a wide variety of paddler preferences.
Gradient is never really more than 10-15 feet per mile (and generally less than that). By virtually all reports, the rapids are pretty much wide-open wave trains (at least, at good flows ... at lower flows there may be some rock-dodge areas). The biggest hazard is likely to be deadfall and snags (trees and branches) in the river, as well as occasional bridge piers (which may also accumulate wood from time to time). The combination of this data (and input we have received) suggests the river is runnable though a wide range of flows, depending upon boater's experience and awareness of the increased power of higher flows and the attendant increased risk.
Paddlers often opt for a put in above this old RR trestle (from the river left side). There are several excellent play waves just downstream from the trestle at levels above 3' (or above 1000 cfs) on the USGS gauge.
(Probably don't want to take out here ... a nice bit of gradient lies between here and next access at a scenic covered bridge.)
Drainage area at this location is approximately 320 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software). This is about 5/8ths the drainage at the listed gauge, thus flow in the upper portion of the river (on average) could be on the order of 0.6 times the gauge reading.
A fine short run (~1 mile) is just putting in here, taking out at CR175E.
At 4 ft (2820 cfs) on the Crawfordsville gage, this is one long (approximately 1/2 mile) wave train with 3 ft standing waves.
At 2.3 ft (616 cfs) on the gage, expect to scrape (there won't really be much to surf).
Look for a minimum of 2.8 ft (1090 cfs) on the gage.
(NOT an access point, just a progress-marker/waypoint.)
Gauge is just above dam upstream of Hwy.231 in Crawfordsville. It lists 509 square miles drainage at that point, and shows elevation of 657.34'.
This is dam (at the coal power plant, just upstream of the Hwy.43/231/Washington Street bridge) is a 'drowning machine'. Portage on river right.
My buddy James & I had a great day on Sugar creek near Darlington on Sat. The level was around 800cfs. This is a good mid to low class 1 level with very nice surfing. We put in at County line Rd. between Darlington and Thorntown and took out at the covered bridge just west of Darlington. The upper part of this reach has some flat parts with riffles and some small rapids. The "good stuff" kicks in at the RR Bridge, with some other class 1 stuff later. If you just want to surf and play then just put in at the RR Bridge and maybe look for higher levels (above 1000cfs).
Gauge/flow analysis based on data from the gauge through 2009-05-31:
Drainage area at gauge: 509 sq.mi.
Minimum mean daily flow during stated period: 2.4 cfs (1941.09.24-27)
90% of time flow exceeds: 29 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 1,190 cfs
Maximum mean daily flow during stated period: 20,100 cfs (1957.06.29)
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 41 (under 3 is fairly steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Jacob Struble 1700 cfs 6-4-14
Josh Struble 1700 cfs 6-4-14
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