White River (East Fork) in Indiana
The East Fork of the White River begins in Columbus, Indiana and meanders 200 miles before joining the West Fork of the White near Petersburg to complete the remaining 50 miles to the Wabash River. Actually, the East Fork is formed well above Columbus by the Driftwood and Flatrock Rivers and further north by the Big Blue and Sugar Creek.
The East Fork often narrows as it fights its way south and west through unglaciated, rocky terrain. This is in marked contrast with the West Fork which flows through the glaciated section of Indiana accounting for a more broad and less rugged valley. The river traveler is treated to a great many sandbars, picturesque islands and interesting wildlife, not to mention the good fishing available. A river of more that 200 miles cannot be described in a paragraph, however. The river and its valley go through subtle as well as drastic changes in its journey to meet the sister fork.
Marshall Motors Co. adds that paddlers can expect to find some rapids, in addition to areas of calm waters. Much of the river is lined with sandstone bluffs, some of which extend to the water's edge. Paddlers will also enjoy the abundance of wildlife, including blue heron, deer, eagles and ducks, to name a few. In addition, the river's feeder creeks, including Indiana Creek and Beaver Creek, make for nice side trips.
Twelve day-long trips have been outlined below to help you adequately explore this beautiful river.
Columbus to Rockford
The White River between Columbus and Rockford provides a six-hour float of 22 miles of slow, meandering stream between heavily vegetated banks. Along the river's corridor the canoeist will find primarily willow, cottonwood, maples and sycamore. Also wood ducks, songbirds, gray and fox squirrels, muskrats and groundhogs are seen along the banks.
In this section of the river fishing for catfish and sunfish is good, especially below the access ramp at Rockford. The canoeist who so desires can camp at the Cypress Lake State Fishing Area located south of Little Acres on Highway 31A.
The Columbus access is 1/4 mile southeast of Highway 31A and State Road 46 intersection. Lindsay Street will take you past the Goodyear store to the old railroad depot where the put-in is a state maintained ramp with parking for ten cars.
The car shuttle moves south on 31 A to the main intersection in Rockford. Follow the signs west 1/2 mile to the state access ramp The Rockford take-out is locate 1/2 mile west of Rockford and is a state maintained ramp with ample parking for ten cars.
Medical assistance is available in Columbus and at the Seymour hospitals.
Rockford To Brownstown
The Rockford to Brownstown section is 21.2 miles, approximately 6 1/2 hours on the slow, meandering stream. The White River flows between heavily vegetated banks and adjacent to agricultural land in this section.
Camping is available at Jackson-Washington State Forest three miles southeast of Brownstown on State Road 250. Campgrounds are also located in the Starve Hollow State Beach three miles southeast on State Road 135. Along the stream fishing for catfish and sunfish is good, especially below the access ramp at Rockford. Doctors are located in Brownstown and hospital assistance may be obtained in Seymour.
The Rockford put-in is a state maintained ramp with a parking area for ten cars. It is located 1/2 mile west of Rockford on County Road 725 N. The falls below the ramp requite a portage to the right. The take-out is at a public access site on the southeast corner of the U.S. 50 bridge west of Brownstown.
Your car shuttle from the take-out site should follow US 50 east to Seymour to the intersection with US 31 A. Turn left and head north into Rockford, turning left on County Road 725 N. to the put-in site.
Brownstown to Sparksville
The Brownstown to Sparksville section of the White River is a 23.5 mile, 6 1/2 hour float. While floating this river section the canoeist may want to take time to see the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. Camping is available at Jackson-Washington State Forest, three miles southeast of Brownstown on State Road 250 and Starve Hollow State Beach, three miles southeast of Vallonia on State Road 135.
The trees in the heavily vegetated corridor are primarily willow, cottonwood, maples and sycamore. Along the banks one can also find wildlife including wood ducks, green and great blue herons, kingfishers, songbirds, and groundhogs. Doctors are located in Brownstown.
The put-in is at a public access site off US 50 just west of Brownstown. Take-out is on Medora Pike east of Sparksville. The car shuttle from the take-out should go north on Medora Pike to Medora, then take State Road 235 north (left). State Road 235 ends at US 50 which you should follow east to the bridge over the White River East Fork.
The Sparksville access area has a wooden dock and launching ramp. The owner of the access is unknown, but it is commonly used for fishing and boat launching. A public access site is also located on the west side of the river and north of State Road 235 near Medora. An additional public access is at the confluence of the East Fork of White River and the Muscatatuck River. To find this access turn west off of SR 135 on the first County Road south of the Muscatatuck River. Go west 5 miles. Using this public access shortens the float to 17.5 miles.
Sparksville to Lawrenceport
The 12 1/2-mile section between Sparksville and Lawrence port is a 5 1/2-hour float. Camping is available in Spring Mill State Park east of Mitchell on State Road 60.
In the river fishing is good as one can catch catfish, flatheads, freshwater drum, carp, bluegill, largemouth bass and spotted bass. Along the banks there are wood ducks, foxes, gray squirrels, white-tail deer, raccoons, opossum and groundhogs. Many of the species may be seen during the float downstream. Medical assistance from doctors and hospitals may be obtained in Bedford.
The Sparksville put-in is located 1/4 mile east of town on Medora Pike. Access to the river is easy because the river parallels the road, but the canoe must be carried down the gradual slope of the river bank approximately 25-30 feet. Parking is only available along the roadside. The Lawrenceport Dam located about five hours downstream from the put-in requires a portage on the right.
The car shuttle starting at the put-in site moves west on Medora Pike to Sparksville. Turn right in town onto Sparksville Pike and go north about 1/2 mile to County Road 625 S, turning left. Go west to Fort Ritner then turn right on Lawrence County Road 1050 E, heading north. At the next intersection take Devils Backbone Road to the left and head west and south, winding around to Tunnelton Road, then left (south) to Tunnelton. As you leave Tunnelton cross the river, turn right and then bear right around to the west and follow the road to the take-out site 1/2 mile east of Lawrenceport. Take-out is a state-owned access point east of Lawrenceport.
Lawrenceport to US 50/SR 37 Bridge
The 12.6 mile section between Lawrenceport and the US 50, State Road 37 bridge is approximately a five-hour float. Beyond the heavy vegetation agricultural land predominates. Most of this section is wide and shallow, with large sandbars. Camping is available at Spring Mill State Park east of Mitchell on State Road 60. Medical assistance from doctors and a hospital may be found in Bedford.
To get to the put-in point take State Road 60 east from Mitchell past Spring Mill State Park to County Road 400 E as it heads into Lawrenceport. Continue on through Lawrenceport to the state-owned public access. The car shuttle moves west through Lawrenceport to County Road 400 E. Go south on County Road 400 E to State Road 60. Continue on State Road 60 west to State Road 37. Proceed north on State Road 37 to the bridge. The take-out site is a state-owned public access site at the US 50 and Indiana 37 bridge over the river, providing a boat ramp and ample parking.
US 50/State Road 37 Bridge to Williams Dam
This 15-mile section to Williams Dam is a five-hour float. The river meanders through a corridor of maples, willows and sycamore. Beyond the heavily vegetated banks in agricultural land. Camping is available at Williams Dam, the take-out. Spring Mill State Park, east of Mitchell, on State Road 60 provides camping, picnicking, fishing and other recreational facilities.
The US 50 State Road 37 bridge access site is located south of Bedford. It is a state-owned public access site on the southeast side of the bridge with facilities for launching a boat and ample parking. The take-out is at Williams Dam. As you approach the dam portage on the left, then paddle across the river to the State Fishing Area where camping is available. (Caution - care should be taken at this site as it can be a dangerous portage.) The car shuttle moves north on State Road 37 to State Road 450 in Bedford. Continue west on State Road 450 to the take-out south of Williams Dam. Medical assistance may be received from the doctors and hospital in Bedford.
Williams Dam to Shoals
White River Outfitters reported the section between Williams Dam and Shoals is now 22.8 miles. It is an approximate 8 hour float. Camping is available at the Martin State Forest 2 miles east of Shoals on US 50 and at Williams Dam, the put-in site.A local business noted that this section of the river passes by LaSalle Spring, a sulfur water spring. In addition, a large eagle's nest (approx. 6 feet in diameter) can be seen near the islands.
The put-in is located at the Williams Dam State Fishing Area on State Road 450. Put-in facilities include a concrete ramp, campgrounds and parking lots. The riffles below may necessitate a portage on the left in lower water. The car shuttle from the Williams Dam access point should proceed west on State Road 450 to Huron-Williams Road. Take Huron-Williams Road south to US 50 then go west on US 50 to Shoals. Turn right at the third street (1 1/2 blocks before the river) and bear left at the Y intersection on River Road as you leave town. Heading north on River Road, proceed about 1 1/2 miles to the river. The road runs adjacent to the river providing several steep but passable access sites. Permission must be gained before trespassing on private property and there is limited parking along the road. Doctor assistance may be obtained in Bedford and Shoals. Hospital services are available in Bedford and Loogootee.
Shoals to Hindostan FallsWhite River Outfitters reported the section between Shoals and Hindostan Falls is now 13.5 miles, and it takes most groups about 6 hours to paddle. They also note that there is a new eagle's nest about 12 miles from Shoals (2 adults and 1 young eagle were seen there on 7-12-2008). The river meanders between heavily vegetated banks lined with maples, willows, sycamores and cottonwood trees. Camping is available at Martin State Forest east of Shoals two miles on US 50. Hunting and fishing are permitted at Martin State Forest with fishing at Boggs Creek Recreation Area.
A local business notes that this section of the river passes along Beaver Bluffs, south of Shoals. Beaver Bluffs is a public area (owned by the Indiana Heritage Foundation) that is open to hiking.
From the put-in site as described in the previous section the car shuttle travels south on US 150 to State Road 550 and continue to Hindostan Road, then turn left and proceed to the river. Take-out is located at the ramp at the public access site at Hindostan Falls on Hindostan Road. If canoeing on through, the falls are quite dangerous and should be portaged between launching ramps.
Doctor and hospital services may be obtained in Shoals and Loogootee.
Hindostan Falls to Portersville
The twenty-mile section of White River between Hindostan Falls and Portersville is an enjoyable nine-hour float with two sections of rapids. The river flows slowly through farmland and wooded areas. Camping facilities are located at Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area southeast of Washington 12 miles on State Road 257, and in Martin State Forest east of shoals 2 miles on US 50. The fishing is good at Hindostan Falls for freshwater drum and in the river for trotline fishing. For the canoeist who also enjoys hiking, there are thousands of acres in the national forest near the river.
The put-in site is second ramp at Hindostan Falls State Fishing Area east of Loogootee. The take-out site is at the Portersville State Launch Ramp across the river northeast of Portersville. The car shuttle beginning at Hindostan Falls moves north on Hindostan Road then west on State Road 550 to Loogootee, then south on US 231. Turn right off US 231 at County Road 650 S and head west in Alfordsville. Turn left in town on County Road 1175 E. South of town stay on the blacktop jogging west on 700 S then south on 1125 E and proceed about 4 miles to the river near Portersville. The take-out site is on the northeast side of the bridge.
Doctor assistance may be obtained in Shoals, Jasper, and Washington. Hospitals services are located in Jasper and Washington.
Portersville to Petersburg
The 26-mile section of the White River between Portersville and Petersburg is an enjoyable 10-hour float. Alternatively, the State Road 257 bridge can be used as a midway access 4 hours from the put-in. The river is broad as it meanders slowly through agricultural land and lowland forest. The West Fork of the White joins with the East Fork about 4 miles above Petersburg. Camping facilities are located in the Glendale State Fish and Wildlife Area. It is located 12 miles southeast of Washington on State Road 257. Hunting and fishing facilities are provided at Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area, Patoka fish and Wildlife Area, and Pike State Forest. The White River has good fishing for largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, freshwater drum, carp and buffalo in this section.
We found the Flat Rock Public Access Site at the south end of the property at Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area. Check out the map of Glendale FWA on that page to see its exact location.
The put-in is at the Portersville State Launch Ramp across the river northwest of Portersville. The take-out site is at the Petersburg Public Launch Site across the river north of Petersburg. Take care to stay left of the island at the power plant. The car shuttle should take Portersville Road south to its end, then County Road 300 North to the left 1/4 mile to US 231, turning right. Take US 231 south to State Road 56 in Jasper. Go west on State Road 56 past its junction with State Road 61 to Petersburg. Continue on State Road 61 through town to the Petersburg Public Launch site on the northwest side of the bridge.
The White River below the confluence of both forks is covered under the
West Fork section.
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