Trip Report for Wildcat Creek in Indiana
Saturday, June 16, 2001

I live approximately 1/2 mile from a public access point on the Wildcat Creek. Therefore many of my paddle trips are on this central Indiana waterway. In the past, I have kayaked this creek from Greentown IN to Lafayette IN. (Approximately 70 miles) One section of the stream is my favorite. Beginning at Adams Mill and ending at Knop Lake. This section holds much intrigue for me. It is very scenic and abounds in wild life. We saw 6 deer, herons, turtles, owls, and a species of lizard that was unrecognized on our most recent trip. This section of stream also is the home to two covered bridges and the longest railroad bridge in Indiana.

Our trip began in the rustic little town of 'Bolivar'. This is the location of Adams Mill. A dam is built across the creek so as to supply water to the inland mill. This first section is basically a large circle. It begins at the dam, in front of the mill, and circles around the rear of the mill. In this section of creek is the first covered bridge. This bridge was closed for many years. It was initially closed to auto travel, but allowed motorcycle and pedestrian crossings. Eventually, the bridge was closed to everyone. Crossing on foot was not even tolerated. Funds were finally raised so as to allow for the remodeling. Now the bridge is immaculate. It is suitable for automobile traffic again.

After the covered bridge is a short railroad bridge that is abandoned. Next is the 75 bridge, followed by 'no-bridge'. 'No bridge' is the location of a long since removed county bridge. All that remains is the concrete that supported the bridge across the wildcat. 'No bridge' is followed by a bridgeless section of creek. A 5-mile, very scenic stretch of central Indiana waterway separates 'No Bridge' & 'Prince William' bridge. Prince William Bridge can also be used as a public access point, although there are signs advising 'No Trespassing'! There is a decent place to leave a vehicle and access is very easy.

After Prince William Bridge, is the 2nd and last covered bridge remaining on the Wildcat. This bridge is known as Lancaster Covered Bridge. This bridge was better maintained than the first bridge, thus it remains more rustic and original. To the best of my knowledge, Lancaster covered bridge has never been closed to auto traffic for any extended periods of time.

The next bridge is the most fantastic sight on the entire trip. It is the longest railroad bridge in Indiana. Although the tracks have been totally removed, the bridge still majestically rules this section of Wildcat. I have never been able to find a date of construction on the structure, but would guess it to have been built in the early 1900s. This bridge is so amazing that I have never paddled under it without an extended stop. There is a rather steep climb from the Wildcat to bridge level. I would guess the bridge to be nearly 100 feet above the water. I am still astounded at the length of this semi-ancient structure. I'd guess its length to be 300+ yards!! It is rather intimidating to walk across this bridge. There are numerous balconies built on the sides of the bridge. I've always assumed that these were constructed for people on foot in the event of a train crossing. Most of the balconies appear unsafe, but I have 'decompressed' for extended periods of time on one. Some have completely fallen off the bridge. On my last stop, I noticed that someone had set fire to the bridge. One of the railroad ties had been completely burnt out of the bridge, thus damaging some of the neighboring ties. It is such a shame to damage the coolest landmark on the banks of the Wildcat.

Next is the IN 39 bridge, shortly followed by the 2nd ‘no bridge’. Next awaits the final leg of the journey. This section is 4 miles in length and relatively easy paddling.

Finally, we find ourselves at what used to be Knop Lake Public Access. This was a fantastic little park about 20-30 minutes east of Lafayette. (By car) There is a fishing lake with boat ramp, there used to be a men’s and ladies restroom, but they were torn down this season. I believe that this fantastic site is destined to become a housing addition. The access to the wildcat has been blocked this year. A canoe or kayak can still be transported to the creek, but someone has made it very difficult. For starters, 4 wooden posts were set in the roadway with a large road closed sign. Next is a metal gate with signs advising of trespassing. Next is a huge, purposely downed tree blocking the lower portion of the drive.Finally, a 100’ of metal cable has been stretched completely over the creek side access area with no trespassing signs. So, to the best of my knowledge and observations, Knop Lake Public access area in no longer for public access to the Wildcat creek. All of the access signs are still posted, but so are many, many no trespassing signs.

I whole-heartedly encourage anyone to try this section of the Wildcat. I have never seen this section of creek completely blocked by obstructions, nor is it shallow enough that getting out of your boat is necessary. It makes for a great day with many photo opportunities.

If anyone has additional information about the huge railroad bridge, I’d be very enthused to see it. Pictures of any section of the Wildcat would also be very welcome. Please e-mail me at


Nick Marshall

Outdoor Resources:
Other Information: - Indiana's Online Outdoor Recreation Guide