Sugar Creek - Darlington (1.2 miles)

Sugar Creek, Indiana, US


Darlington (1.2 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II (varies with level)
Length 1.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 10 fpm
Max Gradient 10 fpm

Josh Struble 1700 cfs 6-4-14

Josh Struble 1700 cfs 6-4-14
Photo by Jason Struble taken 06/04/14 @ 1700 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03339500 500 - 3000 cfs I 01h08m 554 cfs (running)
You will scrape in many areas, but the river may be paddled. Likely to find only very lame/tame whitewater. Gauge (509 sq.mi. drainage) is 10-15 mi. downstream, and a few large tribs intervene, thus gauge will not reflect actual flow at Darlington.

River Description

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-01-29 17:19:56


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0County Line Road / County Road 1200WN/AAccess
1.7County Road 950EN/A
3.8Railroad BridgeIIAccess Playspot
5.1County Road N 700EN/AAccess
6.8County Road E 500NN/AAccess
6.9Covered Bridge: Drainage: ~320 sq.mi.N/AAccess
9.2County Road N 425EN/AAccess
12.1County Road 275EN/A
13.2County Road 175EN/AAccess
14.5Interstate 74N/A
17.0USGS gauge: 509 sq.mi.N/A
17.1Low Head Dam (Portage)N/APortage Hazard
17.5Lafayette AvenueN/A

Rapid Descriptions

Railroad Bridge (Class II, Mile 3.8)

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.

County Road E 500N (Class N/A, Mile 6.8)

(Probably don't want to take out here ... a nice bit of gradient lies between here and next access at a scenic covered bridge.)

Covered Bridge: Drainage: ~320 sq.mi. (Class N/A, Mile 6.9)

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.

County Road 275E (Class N/A, Mile 12.1)

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.

Interstate 74 (Class N/A, Mile 14.5)

(NOT an access point, just a progress-marker/waypoint.)

USGS gauge: 509 sq.mi. (Class N/A, Mile 17.0)

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'.

Low Head Dam (Portage) (Class N/A, Mile 17.1)

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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 29 2009 (3554 days ago)
Craig NyquistDetails
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).