Our party of four, two solo boats and a tandem, put in the river at Rogers Park in Goshen. Rob and Liz are paddling the never been used 20 year old Uniroyal Royalex canoe he found in a hay loft while doing a roofing job and purchased for $40. John is in his new Mohawk 15' solo, whose lack of initial stability would prove to be matched only by it's lack of secondary stability. Me in my trusty Old Town 14' 9" Guide.
From the boat ramp, the water moves rather quickly as you go under the US 33 bridge, then under a railroad trellis about 100 yards farther downstream. There is an eddy on the downriver side of the trellis that always yields a childs playground ball or two, and today was no exception.
It is always amazing to me the amount of wildlife living along what is basically an urban waterway. We see deer, heron, wood ducks, and an angry flock of geese perturbed by our presence. But more impressive are the river otter and beaver. The state of Indiana has done a marvelous job reintroducing the otter, and we see them almost everywhere we paddle now. The section of river between Oxbow Park and Studebaker park is strewn with small trees felled by beaver and larger trees gnawed. While we only see one, obviously more abound.
This was an uneventful trip until John and Rob started tossing the afore mentioned beach ball back and forth. Sensing pending disaster, and with discretion being the better part of valor, I backed off and watched the disaster unfold.
Playing catch quickly became boring, and soon the two boats were trying to zing each other. John nailed Rob in the back with a zinger. Rob waited till John was distracted maneuvering his canoes and whizzed one towards Johns head. John saw it out of the corner of his eye and ducked just quickly enough for the ball to sail by. He then raised his hand in triumph, and immediately tumbled into the water. It was about the only place in the river too deep to stand.
We got John dried out, in a change of clothes, emptied his canoe, then proceeded uneventfully to Studebaker Park in Elkhart.
This is a very pleasant 5 hour paddle which is ideal for families, or those just looking for a leisurely day on the water. The trip can be shortened to about 3 hours if you disembark at Oxbow Park.
All three parks have excellent boat ramps. There are currently no outfitters on the river. This is an urban area so restaurants and lodging are easily available.
Oxbow Park has a small entrance fee. The others are free.
Rogers Park is on US 33 (Pike St.) in Goshen. Oxbow Park is just off US 33 between Goshen and Elkhart. Studebaker Park is just off Indiana Ave. in Elkhart.
Indiana Gazetter is always a must.