|Canoeing & Boating|
Paddlers have a choice of four waterways to canoe: the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers and the Wildcat and Deer Creeks. Wildcat Creek is one of only three Natural and Scenic Waterways in the State, and the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers are on the list of Indiana’s Outstanding Rivers and Streams. Many historical sites—some listed on the National Register of Historic Places—are on or near these waterways.
A small creek, little known to those outside the county, is Deer Creek. Its 23-mile floatable portion in Carroll County begins just south of the town of Deer Creek in northeast Carroll County at the SR 29 bridge. There is no Indiana DNR Public Access Site at this or any other location along Deer Creek, so access is from private property—usually fields at some distance from residences—along state or county roads near bridges. The one exception is Sycamore Row, an abandoned, quarter-mile state highway department-owned segment of old SR 29, just south of the intersection with SR 218. The Creek is accessible via a steep slope down from the northern terminus of the Row. There is parking along the berm of the single lane, but turning around at the terminus is difficult.
The most popular launch site for Deer Creek is at the SR 75 bridge south of Camden, 11.1 miles downstream from Sycamore Row. Downstream 6.9 miles from there, paddlers will pass under the 1897 Wilson Bridge. The Pratt through-truss iron structure was restored in 2008 and is on the National Register. At 1.4 miles further downstream is the 1891 wooden railroad trestle local residents call “High Bridge.” At 852 feet long and 65 feet above the creek, High Bridge is the second highest and third longest railroad trestle in Indiana. This grand structure is eligible for listing in the National Register.
Deer Creek winds through Delphi’s Riley Park, 2.1 miles downstream from High Bridge. The Park is about a quarter-mile south of the City’s Historic Courthouse Square, on U.S. 421/SR 39 S. Access to the Creek is via the road and footpaths through the Park. Paddlers can obtain food and other necessities at the many retailers around Courthouse Square. SR 75 to Riley Park is a total of 10.5 stream miles. The confluence of the Creek and the Wabash River is 1.3 miles downstream, near the site where the first Carroll County settlers constructed their log cabins in 1826.
The Tippecanoe River, with a reputation as one of the most scenic in the state, has few roads that cross its meandering route along the western border of the County. The Indiana DNR maintains a Public Access Site at the southern extremity of Lake Freeman., below the Oakdale Dam. Travel north of Delphi’s Courthouse Square on U.S. 421/SR 39/SR18 for 7.2 miles and turn west (left) on CR 700 N. Then proceed 0.6 miles and turn right on CR 1150 W. Within 0.2 miles, turn west (left) on CR 725 N and proceed 0.6 miles to CR 1200 W. The entrance is on the left to the Oakdale PAS, and parking is available for up to 20 vehicles. Dining is available near the dam at the Oakdale Dam Inn.
The Jefferson Township Conservation Club, Inc. maintains a picnic/camping area at the base of Oakdale Dam on the west side of the river, about 100 yards upstream of the Oakdale PAS. Users of the facilities must be members or accompanied by a member. The Club's website has photos of muskies, walleye, bass, and other fish--some very large--caught in the river. The Conservation Club is presently closed because of construction at the Oakdale Dam.
Another very popular launch site is on private property, 9.9 miles downstream from the Oakdale PAS. This site, known locally as Springboro Bridge, carries SR 18 from Delphi over the Tippecanoe River to Brookston. The traveler would follow the U.S. 421/SR 39/SR 18 highway north from Delphi’s Courthouse Square for 3.4 miles where SR 18 continues to Brookston. The Springboro Bridge is 2 miles from this junction. Access to the river is from the west and north side of the bridge. Though it’s private property, it has accommodated canoe and boat launches for many years, without problems of trespass being reported. The terrain at the top of the area and leading to the river is unimproved. Parking for 15-20 vehicles is available, but, long-term parking on private property should be avoided.
Hodges Canoe Trips is located below Springboro at 2761 N 1275 W, a half mile off SR 18. They are a full-service canoe and kayak livery. Their website provides service details.
The confluence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers is about 9 miles downstream from the Springboro Bridge, in Americus, a small town on SR 25 midway between Lafayette and Delphi. A private, fee-based livery is located there as well as restaurants, campgrounds, and other serivces.
Cool off on a warm summer's day in Lake Freeman located along the northwestern county line. Fill your days with fishing, boating, swimming, and skiing. Lake Freeman is a popular spot just below Monticello that offers recreational activities for local residents as well as many visitors.
Boating and boating services, including a ramp, are provided above Oakdale Dam in Lake Freeman by Pearson's Marina.
The Madam Carroll is a 135-foot boat that cruises Lake Freeman, offering dinners, drinks, entertainment, and a dance floor. It is also available for private charters.
The eastern-most access to the 16.4 miles of Wabash River in Carroll County is the Indiana DNR Public Access Site leased from Carroll County at its French Post Park in northwestern Carroll County. The Park is most easily accessed from SR 25, the main highway between Delphi and Logansport. At 11.3 miles north of Delphi’s Courthouse Square is the town of Burrows. Travelers should proceed west on CR 900N, beginning immediately north of the Burrows Presbyterian Church on the west side of the highway at the PAS sign, and continue for 3.7 miles to the “T” intersection with CR 275 W. A DNR PAS direction sign (brown arrow on white background) is at this intersection. Continue in a northeasterly direction for 1 mile, and the Park will be on the left. The paved boat ramp is directly ahead, and numerous vehicles can be accommodated in the parking lot.
At 5.7 miles downstream from the Park is the restored 1927 Carrollton Bridge, a National Register-listed structure. The public access is at the north abutment, east side, on property owned by the Wabash & Erie Canal Association. DNR plans to install an official PAS ramp at the site in 2013. The most direct route to the Bridge is from SR 25 in Delphi. Turn North on Wilson St. just beyond the Public Library at the Carroll County Country Club sign. In 6 blocks, Wilson St. becomes Carrollton Road (CR 700 W). Follow Carrollton Road for 4 miles to the Bridge and the access site. Also at this spot is interpretive signage describing aspects of the Wabash & Erie Canal as well as the bridge.
The road that leads North away from the Bridge is Towpath Road, the “towpath” for the Wabash & Erie Canal which was constructed through this area in the 1840s. Towpath Road can be followed to the town of Lockport and crossing the bridge over the Wabash there on CR 300 W and turning west (right) will bring the traveler immediately to French Post Park, on the right. The Park, via this route, is 6.7 miles from Carrollton Bridge. Located in this scenic county park is a handicapped-accessible DNR boat ramp as well as a shelter house, water, and tent camping facilities.
About 6 miles downstream of the Carrollton Bridge is a small, County-owned right-of-way parcel on the downstream side of the west abutment of the concrete bridge on Bicycle Bridge Road, which intersects with U.S. 421/SR 39/SR 18 N at Delphi’s Pizza Hut restaurant. The site is unimproved, and canoes will have to be hauled up and over a large levee, but a short lane leading from the west to near the base of the levee provides parking for 3 vehicles. This location is intended as a temporary site until a better public access can be constructed. Those using this site are expected to restrict their activity to the County-owned parcel and not infringe on the owners of the adjoining properties.
The launch point for the 25-mile floatable portion of the North Fork of the Wildcat in Carroll County begins at the new Public Access Site (PAS) constructed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2007 at the north abutment of the State Route (SR) 29 bridge in Burlington in southeast Carroll County. Parking for 10-15 vehicles is available. Canoes must be carried via a path up and over a levee next to the bridge to the put-in.
The National Register-listed 1845 Adams Mill is 9.0 miles downstream from the SR 29 bridge. An Indiana DNR Public Fishing Area (PFA) access is across the county road from the Mill. The Mill and the PFA can be accessed from SR 75 into Cutler via County Roads (CR) 485E, 500S and 75E. The Mill, a National Register-listed property, serves as a museum and still has much of its flour grinding equipment displayed. The PFA parking lot and adjacent area will hold about 30 vehicles. The 9.4-acre site was acquired in 1986. About a half-mile downstream is the National Register-listed 1872 Adams Mill Covered Bridge.
Xenia Bridge, 7 miles downstream from Adams Mill, has a small, undeveloped access area on the northwest side of Prince William Road and CR 350, owned by the County. Only temporary parking for a single vehicle is available at that site.
The County’s only other remaining covered bridge, the 1870 Lancaster Bridge, is 2.7 miles downstream from Xenia Bridge. The property on both sides of the bridge is privately owned so no Creek access is available.
The Knop Lake PFA and Wildcat Creek PAS is 13.6 miles downstream from Adams Mill and can be accessed from U.S. 421/ SR 39 South via CR 550W across from Owasco (well marked with Knop Lake and PAS signs from both the north and south), which within a mile turns west on CR 650S. The entrance to Knop Lake is on the north side of CR 650S at 2.3 miles from the state highway. The access road to the PAS runs north from the Lake and down a steep, gravel road to the Creek. Parking is available at the Lake and in the large PAS parking area. This is the last PAS in Carroll County, a 49-acre secluded area. It is 23.8 miles from Knop Lake to Davis Ferry, the confluence of the Wildcat with the Wabash River in Tippecanoe County.
Knop Lake can also be accessed from SR 26. Just east of the Tippecanoe/Clinton County line, turn North on CR 900W (which becomes CR 800W at 1 mile) at the DNR boat ramp signs and proceed 2.4 miles to CR 650S, marked with a brown arrow directional sign. Turn East on 650S and proceed 0.6 miles to the Knop Lake entrance, well marked with a large DNR Public Fishing Area sign. The sign, which faces west, is not readily observed when traveling from the east.
A useful website for information about distances between sites and the segments of Wildcat Creek is: Wildcatcreek.net. Another that provides maps of the areas described is hosted by the Wildcat Guardians.
There are two canoe outfitters located in or near Carroll County:
Hodges Canoe Trips (on the Tippecanoe River)
2761 N 1275 W
Delphi, IN 46923
Wildcat Canoe and Kayak Too (on Wildcat Creek)
CR 725 E, south of the bridge, in Tippecanoe County
A popular guide for canoe trips throughout north-central Indiana, and especially on Wildcat Creek, is Garry Hill. Garry, known as “Muskrat” by his canoeing friends, organizes trips throughout the year, including winter months, and has an extensive email list announcing and describing these trips. Paddlers interested in these trips should contact Garry at GarryHill@aol.com.
Appreciation is also extended to Garry for his review of the above descriptions and for providing the mileage of stream segments.