Indian Lake - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Day Trip Report
September 23, 2009
Russells Point, OH
Indian Lake sits in Logan County, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere in west-central-ish Ohio. Its chamber of commerce calls it the "All Weather Playground." I explored it in early fall and found the chamber is at least one season right. There’s 5,800 acres of water, 29 miles of shoreline, 69 islands, rundown trailers, Crayola cottages, waterfront McMansions. Russells Point, the nearest "city" feels a bit ramshackle, but no less friendly for that.
The map showed several possibilities, so I poked around a bit looking for public access and the state park office. A chain of islands named for Indian tribes forms a hook-shaped archipelago adrift off the lake’s southern eastern side. The choice was obvious.
I launched from the Moundwood ramp at the southern tip of Lake Ridge Island, then headed east a quarter mile or so along its southern shore. Once I rounded it and looked out, I was smitten.
Indian Lake has no granite mounds or wind-blown flag pines like Georgian Bay. However, the seascape of open water sprinkled with wooded islands and cottages resembled that other great paddling playground.
I made a clockwise route, rounding the southern end of Minnewauken Island, then turning north past Tecumseh Island and Sunset Island to a jetty, which was state park land. A man dressed in hunting camouflage sat fishing. When I landed to explore, I couldn’t tell if he was just quiet or annoyed that I may be scaring the fish. Maybe he had never seen a kayak before. When I asked questions, his answers were terse: Yes, this was Pew Island, and all he caught so far was a catfish.
Pew was the least developed island along my route. Otherwise, most of the shore was lined with homes. Back on the water I rounded the north side of Seminole Island, where at least two smaller islands sit on the chart … I could not find a route between them. A bay lined with houses sits between Seminole on the west and its eastern neighbor, Shawnee Island.
Past Shawnee was another bay. Soon I could see the bridge between Shawnee and Lake Ridge Island, which requires a word of explanation:
Many of the islands I paddled around actually are connected by a bridge or isthmus. It is not always possible to paddle under the bridges; the one between Minnewauken and Tecumseh, or Cranetown Island and Seminole, would not allow paddlers beneath. However, the bridge joining Shawnee to Lake Ridge was high enough to paddle under, and open. With clouds gathering above, I pondered whether heading under that bridge would be a shortcut back to the ramp.
I think it would be equidistant, so I stayed on my original course. A number of boathouses guarded a herd of pontoon boats along the east side of Lake Ridge Island. To my port side was a swampy area that grew denser as I headed south. I wondered whether I had chosen the correct route to take me back to the ramp. As the channel grew narrower, I wondered more, until a final corner where I turned to face another bridge. On the other side of it was the ramp, and the end of the afternoon’s voyage. It lasted a couple hours and about 6.3 miles.
Despite the clouds, it didn’t rain. And the ramp wasn’t the end of my voyage when I passed it. I paddled out to the lake again and just floated for a while. Open water, islands, cottages, trees... lovely.
- An obvious choice would be to launch from the ramp at the southwest corner of the lake, where a bike trail runs parallel to Ohio 366. This section would lead to the main body of water of the lake.
- The lady at the state park office recommended the launch ramp at Blackhawk Island. The locals call it Lucy’s Pond and its narrow waterways and tree canopies look like the Everglades, she said. It is accessible from Ohio 366 on the lake’s west side. This also is near Old Field Island, a state park with a swimming beach; if the beach isn’t crowded, a bootleg launch would be easy.
- In Russells Point, take Ohio 703/Orchard Island Road onto Orchard Island. Just east of there it would be easy to bootleg launch from the Fox Island State Beach.
Make your first stop at the ODNR state park camp office. They have maps/charts printed by Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and the Indian Lake Development Corp. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a state park campground at Indian Lake. The chamber map lists dozens of cottages and campgrounds.
Launching was free, but make sure your boat is registered.
Depends where you're coming from. Indian Lake is encircled by U.S. 33, Ohio 235 and Ohio 117. In easiest terms, exit Interstate 75 at Wapakoneta and head east about 16 miles on U.S. 33.
Check out the state and chamber of commerce maps/charts.
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