Big Darby Creek at Darbyville gauge levels:
Weather: 85 degrees and sunny. Previous 7 days included significant rain events with Darbyville gauge measuring 9.21 ft and 5,530 cfs
Trip Length: 6.1 miles
Trip Time: 2h 10m
We recently purchased a budget 2 person inflatable kayak (Intex Explorer K2) and decided to test it out this day on the Darby. We put in at the McKitrick Fishing Area which has a gravel parking lot that easily accommodates 4+ cars. Put-in is easily visible on the left side of parking lot as you pull in.
The river depth was great at these levels. The inflatable sits a little deep in the water so we did run into some rocks ahead of a few of the faster sections, but nothing too bad. This stretch of the river was a good mix of slow water paddling with a few faster, tighter sections to keep it interesting.
With the recent flooding there was some significant debris along this stretch of river, including a log jam along an abandoned railway bridge just downstream from the highway 161 bridge. With two people, we were able to cross with one of us getting out to push the kayak under a log river-right while the other person laid down (requires standing in waist deep water). A better option would be to portage river-left along a rock bed. We encountered no other issues for the remainder of the trip/
This stretch was very scenic with plenty of wildlife including cranes, ducks, deer, and many birds. We did this run in the evening and there were surprisingly very few bugs or mosquitoes until we took out at the Prairie Oaks river access.
River/Creek (Up to Class II)
Number of Portages:
log jam along an abandoned railway bridge just downstream from the highway 161 bridge (GPS: 40.102160, -83.259480). portage river-left along a rock bed.
The flow was very manageable at these levels. There were a few places towards the end of the run where the river splits and it's not entirely obvious which path to take, but i imagine this is more clear in lower water conditions.