Entry is river left at Tonkel Road (1/4 mile north of Hursh Road at 41.22085, -85.026873)
Exit is river left at St Rd 1 (Leo-Cedarville at 41.202773, -85.026873)
Distance is just over 5 miles and will take the average paddler 3 hours to complete.
Spring/Early Summer moderate water levels; Summer/Fall can be lower water levels
The put-in at Tonkel Road is accessible via a carry down at a moderately sloped path from a narrow parking area along the road. This is a great paddle (just a 15 minute or so drive from downtown Fort Wayne) that takes you through some light residential areas and Metea County Park. At times the stream can be blocked by fallen trees, but they are typically cleared a number of times throughout the season. Since the Cedar Creek is a State designated Scenic River, it is common to see wildlife; on my last trip in May 2018 I saw deer, blue heron, wild turkey, red-tailed hawk, small-mouth bass (jumping out of the water), and evidence of beaver activity. That trip, with fairly quickly moving water, one portage (due to downed trees blocking the creek), and one other stop (just for fun), took about 3 hours. The paddle ends with a bit of excitement- you’ll find small rapids right before you exit the creek on the left at State Road 1. Definitely a picturesque, quiet paddle considering its close proximity to the city.
Cedar Creek - St. Joseph River
Leo-Cedarville to Fort Wayne
Entry is river left at 9600-9628 State Road 1, Leo, IN 46765(41.202773, -85.026873)
Exit is river left at Shoaff Park Public Access Site ramp 7034 Riverton Dr, Fort Wayne, IN 46825 (41.145839, -85.100188)
Distance is approximately 10 miles and will take the average paddler 4 to 4.5 hours to complete.
Entry is at a hand carry ramp on the southeast side of the bridge on State Road 1 as you are entering Leo-Cedarville. Parking is available but there are no other amenities. Entry is on the Cedar Creek and just above where it feeds into the St. Joseph River downstream of the dam. You will spend most of your time on the St. Joseph River during this paddle, which is a smooth and slow flowing paddle which allows you time to take in the scenery. There is a nice forested buffer along most of the river on this paddle but you will also paddle through some light residential areas, Riverbend golf course, and Shoaff Park, operated by Fort Wayne Parks and Rec. When you get out at Shoaff Park you will be able to enjoy its many amenities including a walking path, playground, splash pad and restrooms.
St. Joseph River
Spencerville to Leo-Cedarville
Entry is river right at 5700-5784 Co Rd 68 Spencerville, IN (41.280968, -84.918183)
Exit is river left at IN DNR Public Access Site ramp 10943-10999 Grabill Rd, Leo-Cedarville, IN (41.222483, -85.005787)
Distance is approximately 9 miles and will take the average paddler 4 hours to complete.
The put-in location is gravel with an easy to use launch area. Parking is available but no other amenities at the launch site. The paddle takes you under the historic wooden Spencerville covered bridge, through woods and farmland and ends in the town of Leo-Cedarville. You will pass through a portion of the Cedarville Reservoir where there are many small islands that are home to a lot of wildlife including deer, muskrat, beaver, and tons of birds. You may even be lucky enough to spot an eagle! The exit is at public launch site with a cement boat launch area and good parking. A porti-potti is at the exit ramp, and just across the street from the exit is Riverside Gardens park with a playground, restrooms, walking path and additional parking.
St. Joseph River to St. Marys River
Entry is river right at Johnny Appleseed Park Public Access Site ramp
1508-1764 N Harry Baals Dr, Fort Wayne, IN 46805 (41.110274, -85.120917)
Exit is river left at Guldlin Park IN DNR Public Access Site ramp 400 Van Buren St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802 (41.081513, -85.15116)
Distance is approximately 4.2 river miles and will take an average paddler approximately 2 - 2.5 hours to complete
The put-in location is gravel but motorized boats and man powered boats can access the river from this site. It is located at Johnny Appleseed Park where there is a playground, picnic area, and restrooms a short walk from the access site. Additionally, there is ample parking at the access site and available camping at the Park between April 15 and October 31st. Call 260.427.6720 to reserve your spot. Your paddle will take you past Stevie’s Island on your left which is a popular spot to stop and relax. Paddling down the St. Joseph you will pass through mostly light to dense residential areas until you come to the confluence of the 3 rivers: St. Joseph, St. Marys and Maumee rivers in downtown Fort Wayne. At the confluence you will see the historic Three Rivers Water Filtration plant to your right and the rest of your paddle will take you along the edge of the heart of Fort Wayne’s downtown. You will turn right at this confluence and paddle up the St. Marys River. You will pass The Deck, a favorite local eatery on your left, where you are welcome to take out at their pier, if space allows, for a quick stop or wave to their patrons as you paddle past. From there you will paddle through Headwaters Park, Traders Point, pass Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot, under the Historic Wells Street Bridge and arrive at Guldlin Park on your left. Guldlin Park has an IN DNR cement boat launch area and parking, but no other amenities.
Seven Pillars - Mississinewa River
Soft Shore Site only
Entry is river right just west of the Mississinewa Dam on Fire Ln which is off of E 308 S (40.749792,-86.012559)
Exit is river right at the SR 124 bridge (40.750684,-86.066405)
Distance is approximately 5.3 miles and will take an average paddler approximately 2.5 - 3 hours to complete
While this paddle is technically outside of the area NEI Water Trails works, it is a paddle that should not be missed. The put-in location is a small park adjacent to the southern boundary of the Francis Slocum State Forest which has a picnic table and restrooms. It is important to note that the water level of this stretch of the Mississinewa River is directly affected by the dam. Therefore, it is important to check the water levels before heading out for your paddle. This short five mile paddle takes you past some extraordinary sites including the Francis Slocum State Forest from the put-in for another 1.5 miles. At around the 3 mile mark you come up on the Cliffs of the Seven Pillars where you will see hollowed out spaces in the 30 foot high cliff. This formation is the result of hundreds of years of wind and water erosion of the beautiful Limestone banks. Seven Pillars is often used by the Miami Nation to host tribal meetings and is protected by ACRES LandTrust. You will then paddle along the ACRES LandTrust managed, 148.4 acre Seven Pillars Nature Preserve for another 3,500 feet before the river opens up to agriculture land for the remainder of the paddle. You may also see eagles along your paddle as they have been spotted along this stretch of the river. Your exit is a soft shore exit with no amenities but it is a short drive west to Peru where you will find restrooms and restaurants.
Pigeon Creek to Mongo Millpond on Pigeon River
Entry is river left on County Road 1100 W (41.67073, -85.19519)
Exit is river right at the Mongo Dam and just downstream of SR 3 (41.684774, -85.280526)
Distance is approximately 9 miles and will take the average paddler 4 - 4.5 hours.
The Pigeon River in Lagrange County is a beautiful waterway and is often clearer than other rivers in Indiana. This stretch of river is a bit of a challenge due to it curving its way through the 11,794 acre, DNR managed, Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife area. As a matter of fact, this entire stretch passes through the DNR property which opens up the possibility of seeing many wildlife species including water fowl, Blue Heron, cranes, deer, raccoon, beaver and more. Be advised that this stretch is more popular on the weekends beginning Memorial Day weekend, but dies down significantly in the fall which is a great time to view the beautiful colors of Autumn in Indiana. There is parking available at the put-in and near the take out, but no other amenities are at either site. However, the takeout is located in Mongo where you will find a gas station and restaurant. Additionally, if you do not have your own watercraft you can rent from one of two outfitters located in Mongo including Trading Post Canoe and Kayak and Mongo River Run.