Access is presently restricted at McCormick's Creek!!!
McCormick's Creek is located in McCormick's Creek State Park in Owen County a few miles east of Spencer, Indiana on State Road 46. This run is a prime example of Indiana "creekin'". This run caters to all skill levels (sans the "Falls"), and can be run at any level above approximately 1.5'. It offers a variety of features: surfable waves, holes, and two waterfalls ("McCormick's Creek Falls" and "One Man's Mountain is Another Man's Molehill Falls"). The creek flows through a narrow gorge lined with limestone cliffs, reaching up to 40'+ in height.
McCormick's Creek State Park has much to offer; its history, forest, wildlife, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hotel, restaurant, and Karst topography make it a unique treasure of Indiana. Couple these traits with convenient roads, trails, and parking for accessibility; a short reach offering multiple runs; and an Indiana canyon with a unique creeking opportunity you won't find anywhere else in state, and you're looking at run that's well worth your time to check out.
As mentioned earlier, McCormick's creek is chocked full of play features, while providing steady current with small eddies giving it that "creeky" feel. The creek flows from the farmland surrounding the park, winds and drops through the "canyon" area, and then levels out before flowing into the West Fork of the White River. Despite its many features, only four rapids will be addressed (these names are subject to change) and they are easily identifiable and scoutable. They are:
"Timothy's Hole" (I-III): This 1-2' river wide ledge is located just below the second bridge ~.2 miles from the put-in on Bridle Trail. It is a fun surf at lower levels, but at 3' and above it can become sticky. At higher levels it's possible to do some flat-spinning and maybe even end throwing, but be aware it's shallow and sticky.
"Where's the Falls Hole" (I-II): This is a similar 1-2' river wide ledge, though not quite as intense as Timothy's Hole. It is located ~.1 miles downstream, and is at the beginning of the last straight stretch before the falls. It seems to be pretty friendly, even at higher levels, but is still a great play feature. Flat spins definitely possible when conditions are right.
It's recommended to take-out directly after on river left, catch the trail, and scout or portage McCormick's Creek Falls directly downstream (as the Falls are not visible until the canyon closes in, making portage or scouting nearly impossible).
"McCormick's Creek Falls" (V-V+): This ~10' waterfall features a challenging set-up with reactionary waves coming from river left (as the now sheer canyon makes a significant right-hand bend). A 10' freefall onto a limestone rock pad, a nice big pool at the end, riverside access at the pool via a stairwell (river left), and a scenic overlook for hikers directly above the falls (have your buddy snap a picture if you have the stuff to run this one!) Given the challenging set-up, the potential to piton from 10' onto a shallow rock shelf, and the nasty looking hole that forms a high water levels, it would be wise to reserve this one FOR EXPERTS ONLY! Prior scouting of the falls, speed, a strong boof stroke, and safety boaters on the bank are strongly recommended if you're to attempt it. The falls mark the end of the steeper "Canyon" section.
"One Man's Mountain is Another Man's Molehill Falls" (II-III): One final rapid awaits ~0.2 miles downstream of McCormick's Creek Falls. This 4' sheer, riverwide ledge is a straight-forward drop (beginners may want to get out and scout). Directly downstream, Trail 10 intersects the creek making it a great place to take-out river left and hike back to the put-in to start another run.
ACCESS: ACCESS TO McCORMICK'S CREEK IS PRESENTLY CLOSED TO KAYAKING!!!!! DO NOT ENTER THE PARK ON THE CREEK FROM OUTSIDE THE PARK BOUNDARY, IT IS CONSIDERED CRIMINAL TRESPASSING!
If/when the boating ban is lifted, access to the creek is as follows: Enter the main park entrance off of S.R. 46. There is no fee to enter the park from October 1-February 28. From March 1-September 31 there is a $4 daily use fee, or one can purchase a season pass for $14. Stay on the main road in the park.
The put-in is accessed via Bridle Trail; put-in anywhere the trail crosses the creek or where any other trail connects to the creek. DO NOT LEAVE THE TRAILS TO ACCESS THE CREEK. Recreational use in the park should be limited to the creekbed or the trails only, as cited by the DNR park managers. The take-out proper is located at the intersection of the creek and Trails 3 or 10, located just below "One Man's Mountain is Another Man's Molehill Falls". AGAIN, PLEASE TRAVEL BY TRAIL OR CREEK ONLY! Parking for access is readily available throughout the park, so do so at your own discretion.
HAZARDS AND PORTAGES:
Usual creek hazards exist on this run (i.e. possible strainers, shallow/sticky holes, limited visibility downstream, and a Class V waterfall). Portage at your own discretion. Also, know and pay special attention to landmarks indicating "McCormick's Creek Falls" is close. Portaging is strongly reccommended unless the paddler is confident in his/her ability and safety precautions have been taken. Portaging and scouting of these falls is possible by the trail on river left.
Gauge is located on the S.R. 46 bridge crossing McCormick's Creek ~ 1.5 miles east of the park entrance. Gauge is painted numbers, measured in feet, on the eastern aspect of the middle concrete pillar of the bridge. Less than 1' is too low. 2' offers surfable waves and holes. 3'+ offers larger wave trains and playable, sticky holes.
Permits are not required for this reach.
See River Info tab for details.
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Upper Bridge Wave
One Man's Mountain is Another Man's Molehill Falls
McCormick's Creek Falls
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