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Driftwood River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: August 2, 2013
Nearest City: Columbus, IN
Difficulty: Easy

Description:

Driftwood River in South Central Indiana is a great place for leisurely kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Besides the usual scenery, wildlife, waterfowl, and great smallmouth bass fishing, the Driftwood has three things in its favor; first it is wide enough that falling trees donít block completely across, secondly there are a number of public access areas to the water, and lastly all of the access sites are very easily accessible from highway US 31.

The Driftwood River itself is not very long only about 16 miles from where it begins at the confluence of Sugar Creek and Big Blue River down to where it ends as it merges with Flatrock River to become the East Fork of the White River. Upstream access is on the Sugar Creek in Camp Atterbury (N on River Road off of E 800 S) just about three quarters of a mile upstream of where it merges with the Big Blue River.

From the Sugar Creek Access Area it is only about 6.5 miles down to the Bill Newton Public Access Site (off Tannehill Rd). From the Bill Newton PAS it is only about 5 miles down to the Lowell Bridge Public Access Site. The Lowell Bridge PAS (on Lowell Rd) is another 5.5 miles down to the boat ramp in the Mill Race Park in Columbus, IN.

My wife and I kayaked the leg between the Bill Newton PAS down to Lowell Bridge on 7/28/2013. There were no portages or problems until the last quarter mile above the Lowell Bridge Access Area. That is a natural shale ledge and we had to get out and pull across a couple of rapid shallow areas. It is a popular spot and it is not uncommon to see anglers fly fishing or catching minnows in these shallows. In addition to blue herons and green herons, we saw a family of wood ducks and even got pictures of queen snake.

On the following Friday, 8/2/2013 we took the trip down from Lowell bridge to Mill Race park. We caught a quick glimpse of an eagle as it flew off and I landed a couple of smallmouth bass as well. This stretch was completely navigable at this time although there were a handful of shallow riffles that may not be if the river level drops lower.

The upper stretch is heavily used since Blue's Canoes makes runs from upstream down to their access about a mile north of the Bill Newton PAS. The stretch from Lowell Bridge down to Columbus gets frequent use by both kayakers and fisherman in boats and it is not unusual to see a half dozen to a dozen vehicles parked at those two sites on the weekends in the summer. During the week there is not a lot of use.

Another nice feature is that Heflin Park is a county run park right on the river just south of Blue's Canoes near the Edinburgh Outlet mall. While they don't have a boat ramp their campsites are right along the river and a canoe or kayak could easily be put in or taken out there. So adventurous souls who wish to mix camping with their boating can take run the 6 miles down from the Atterbury Sugar Cr ramp on day, camp at Heflin Park (for a fee) then run either the 6 miles down to Lowell Bridge or the 11 miles all the way down to Mill Race Park in Columbus.

Accommodations:

State Department of Natural Resources owned Public Access Sites and Heflin Park.

Fees:

No, except to camp at Heflin Park.

Resources:

Recommend checking out the state web site for public access areas at:
http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5498.htm


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