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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Outdoor Recreation > Trails > Indiana Canoeing > Water Trail Guide > White River (West Fork) White River (West Fork)

The West Fork of the White rises as an insignificant creek near the Ohio border in central Indiana and winds gently westward. By the time it passes Muncie, however, it is a substantial river. Near the center of the state it abruptly turns south as it builds from the strength of hundreds of creeks and streams. One of those, Fall Creek, marks the chosen site for the state capital. Indianapolis now overshadows the confluence with the landmarks of urbanization.

Further south the scenery changes to a broad, more open valley, but soon the river passes through hill country as it travels into Martinsville. The valley opens once more as the river continues its southwestern flow through Indiana's southern coal fields and sandy farmland. The West and East Forks finally combine to form the boundary between three counties as the White River flows another fifty miles to feed the Wabash.

The banks of the West Fork are lined with woods of varying depth and include species such as maples, oaks, sycamore, river birch, cottonwood and others. As the season permits one may see Canada geese, cranes, ducks, deer, muskrat, fox and herons in addition to the usual numbers of squirrels, turtles, groundhogs and other common animals. Fishing in the stream varies from section to section with possibilities for largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, perch and crappie.

Farmland to Muncie

The put-in site is located approximately three miles southwest of Farmland on County Road 1100 W. There is parking available for two or three cars with best access to the river at the northwest corner of the bridge. The canoeist, through this section of the river, will experience a very shallow rocky bottom that may require wading in some stretches.

There are five dams on this section all of which must be portaged. After the fifth dam, take-out access is available at Tuhey Park on the right. A dirt road on the flood plain parallel to the river provides an easy take-out. To reach the take-out site from the County Road 1100 W Bridge, go north on 1100 W. to SR 32 west through Muncie (Main Street) to Franklin Street, which is the first one-way street past the court house. Turn right onto Franklin Street, then left to cross the High Street Bridge. Turn left at the light at the north end of the bridge to Tuhey Park.

Muncie to Chesterfield

This fifteen-mile trip begins at Tuhey Park along White River Boulevard in Muncie. There are shallow areas in this section that in low water may require pulling your canoe through. West of Muncie, the river becomes wider and deeper providing easier canoeing. There is one dam at the sewage disposal plant about one hour downstream that would have to be portaged in low water. Approximately 2 1/2 or 3 hours downstream, Buck Creek flows into the main channel from the left.

The take-out site is at the County Road 400 E bridge north of Chesterfield. Use the southwest corner for access which consists of a moderately sloping bank with dense low vegetation. From the put-in site, the shuttle route should follow White River Boulevard west to Tilloston Avenue then turn left (south) to State Road 32. Continue west on State Road 32 to Chesterfield, then turn right (north) at the stop light on 400 E and continue to the bridge.

Chesterfield to Perkinsville

The put-in site is at the southwest corner of the 400 E bridge, north of Chesterfield. This 19-mile trip passes through Anderson to the small town of Perkinsville. The take-out site is at the State Road 13 bridge. The moderately sloped bank in the southwest corner of the bridge is the best access point. Parking areas are available in Perkinsville. From State Road 32 in Chesterfield, the shuttle vehicles should continue west to State Road 109 on the edge of Anderson then turn right (north) to Cross Street Road and turn left (west). Continue to County Road 600 W and turn right (north) to County Road 300 N then turn left (west) and continue to Perkinsville. Then left at State Road 13 and go south to the bridge. An intermediate access is located in Anderson. Access to the White River via a short stretch of Killback Creek is located in the Killback Wetlands which is accessible from Grand Avenue just east State Road 9 (Broadway).

White River West Fork Map

Perkinsville to Noblesville

This 15 1/2 mile trip begins at the southwest corner of the State Road 13 bridge at Perkinsville and continues to Noblesville flowing along treelined banks through primarily agricultural lands. Approximately four hours downstream there is a dam that requires a portage of 75-100 yards on the left. Changes in ownership of the old county road right-of-way after the removal of a bridge immediately downstream of the dam have resulted in the former portage downstream of the old bridge abutment being blocked by fence. Do not trespass; ask before crossing any fence. It may be prudent to take out above the dam and return to the river downstream at the next county road crossing the river.

The take-out site is at the Logan Street Bridge in Noblesville at the southwest corner. To reach this site from Perkinsville, go north on State Road 13 to State Road 37 then turn left (southwest) and continue to State Road 38 and turn right (west). Take State Road 38, also called Conner Street, downtown and at the courthouse turn right (north) and go one block to Logan Street. Turn left (west) and cross the river. The take-out site is then on your left.

Noblesville to Broad Ripple Park

This section of the river, flowing southward, continues to widen as it flows from one urban edge through agricultural lands to another urban and residential area. Allow approximately 6-8 hours for this 20-mile trip.

The put-in site is at the southwest corner of the Logan Street Bridge in Noblesville. Parking is available along the road. The slope of the bank is moderate to steep and the vegetation is fairly open.

The take-out site is a boat ramp in Broad Ripple Park along the left bank. The shuttle route from Noblesville should take 10th Street south which then becomes Allisonville Road. Continue on Allisonville Road across I-465 to 62nd Street and turn right (west) and cross Keystone Avenue to Broad Ripple Park on your right. Turn in the main entry and bear left as you enter the park. The boat ramp is straight ahead. Parking is available adjacent to the ramp.

Broad Ripple Park to Riverside Park

The put-in site for this nine-mile float is at the boat ramp at the southwest corner of Broad Ripple Park. Approximately one-half mile downstream there is a dam that must be portaged on the right.

Continuing downstream, the take-out site is located on the left bank at a boat ramp about one-half mile south of the 30th Street bridge in Riverside Park. There are parking facilities at both the put-in and take-out sites. To reach the take-out site from Broad Ripple Park, go west on 62nd Street until Westfield Boulevard then turn left (southwest) and follow the canal until Meridian Street turning left (south). At 38th Street, turn right (west) and then before crossing the river turn left (south) on White River Parkway East Drive. Continue past 30th Street for approximately one-half mile to the public boat ramp.

White River West Form Map 2

Riverside Park to Henderson Ford

The put-in site is at Riverside Park described in the previous section. Three dams are encountered within this 23 mile, 10-12 hour section, all of which must be portaged.

Access to the river for take-out is at Henderson Ford Bridge 4 1/2 miles north of Martinsville and 5 miles south of Waverly on State Road 37, then 0.7 miles west and north on Henderson Ford Road (County Road 390 E). An intermediate access point seven miles downstream from the put-in site is at Southwestway Park. Take Burdsal Parkway to Northwestern Avenue where you turn right (south) and continue out of the city. Northwestern Avenue then becomes State Road 37 which you take to Henderson Ford Road and the access described above.

Henderson Ford to Martinsville

The put-in site is located on the Henderson Ford Road. The public access site can be found by following the directions in the previous section. Within this 15 1/2 mile float, there is one dam located approximately twelve miles downstream from Henderson Ford and about 3/4 mile downstream from the power plant, on your left. In high water, the river is very swift around the dam.

The take-out is at Martinsville at the State Road 39 bridge. The south corner of the bridge provides best access.

The shuttle route from the put-in site is east on Henderson Ford Road to State Road 37. Turn right (south) and continue on State Road 37 to State Road 39 where you should turn right (northwest) to the bridge.

Spencer to Farmers

The twenty-mile float to the ferry crossing near Farmers, Indiana takes about seven hours. Near the start, railroad tracks parallel the river in several places but the banks are wooded for the most part. The closest public camping and general recreational facilities are in McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer.

The put-in site is a state-owned public fishing site south of Spencer. In Spencer, turn south on State Road 43/46 and proceed east through town and across the bridge over the West Fork of the White River. Beyond the bridge turn right and follow the signs to the Spencer Public Fishing Site. Plenty of parking is available and the launch ramp provides easy access. By canoe, stay to the left bank as you pass under the State Road 43/46 bridge and proceed about 1/2 mile to the launch ramp. The take-out is south of the small town of Farmers. Take State Road 67 south through Farmers and turn left (east) on County Road 990 N. Follow this road about 1.5 miles to the ferry crossing ramp which is still in operation. By canoe, the site is on the right about 2 1/2 hours downstream from Freedom, Indiana.

The car shuttle should take County Road 990 N back to State Road 67. Turn right (north) and proceed to Spencer then take State Road 46 east across the river turning right and following the signs to the Spencer Public Fishing Site.

Farmers to Bloomfield

This seventeen-mile, six-hour, float passes primarily through farmland as it winds south with little development visible from the river except near Worthington. The put-in site is the ferry crossing used as take-out in the previous section. The take-out is off a county road west of Bloomfield. By canoe, watch for the old bridge abutments in the river at the mouth of a creek within sight of the U.S. 231 highway bridge. The take-out is at the mouth of the creek on the right bank. By car, take U.S. 231 and State Road 54 west from Bloomfield. By canoe, watch for the old bridge abutments in the river at the mouth of a creek within sight of the U.S. 231 highway bridge. The take-out is at the mouth of the creek on the right bank. By car, take U.S. 231 and State Road 54 west from Bloomfield, cross the river and take the first left then left again under the highway bridge. Proceed across the tracks to the take-out site beyond the mobile home.

The car shuttle should take U.S. 231 back to Bloomfield and north on State Road 157 to Worthington. In Worthington turn right (north) on State Road 67 and proceed about 4 1/2 miles to County Road 990 N. Turn right and proceed about 1 1/2 miles to the ferry crossing, our put-in site.

White River West Form Map 3

Bloomfield to Elnora

This 20 mile, seven hour, float passes through a relatively flat area as the river twists past wetlands along tree-lined banks.

The put-in is along a county road west of Bloomfield as described in the previous section. The take-out is a public fishing site northwest of Elnora. By canoe, the river makes several horseshoe turns and passes under two railroad tracks downstream from Newberry. About one mile beyond the second railroad bridge watch for the launch ramp on the left. By car take State Road 57 south toward Elnora turning right at the sign for the public fishing site on an unmarked road, later labeled North Street. Follow the state signs about two miles to the Elnora Public Fishing Site.

The car shuttle should take North Street back to State Road 57 turning left (north). At the junction with State Road 54, turn right and proceed east toward the river, turning right on County Road 150 W which winds around and under the bridge. Then cross the railroad tracks to the put-in beyond the mobile home.

Medical assistance is available in Washington further south.

Elnora to Edwardsport

This 22.5-mile, seven-hour float continues through the winding region of the previous trip as creeks and ditches continue to feed the White, increasing its flow and width. Some sections are scarred with debris, particularly near the take-out. The put-in is at the public fishing site as described in the previous section. The take-out is south of Edwardsport on a levee along the river. By canoe, watch for the beginning of the levee road on the right about one hour south of Edwardsport. The access is a short clearing on the bank about 50 yards upstream from a pile of junked cars. By car, take State Road 67 south through Edwardsport and turn left (south) on County Road 1100 E. This road becomes the levee road as it curves to the right. Watch for an abandoned cab in on the left which is fifty feet before the take-out on the same side of the river.

The car shuttle should take County Road 1100 E to State Road 358, then right. Proceed east to Plainville then north on State Road 358/57. Where State Road 358 turns east again, stay on State Road 57 through Elnora and turn left at the sign for the public fishing site on an unmarked road about two miles north of Elnora, following the signs to the put-in site.

Edwardsport to Washington

The first stretch of this 14.5-mile, five-hour trip is littered with debris, but downstream the tree-lined banks winding through the foothills are quite scenic. The moderately difficult put-in site is on the levee road south of Edwardsport as described in the previous section. The take-out site is about four miles north of Washington, Indiana. By car, take U.S. 50 and 150 west through Washington and Maysville, turning right on 300 W at the railroad tracks. Proceed north about 2 miles to 150 N, then left past the first bridge over Prairie Creek to the White River bridge. The best access is on the northeast corner and limited parking is available along the road. The car shuttle should return to Washington, take State Road 57 north to Plainville then proceed west on State Road 358 across the river, turning south on County Road 1100 E to the put-in.

Washington to Petersburg

This float follows the last miles of the West Fork, passes by the confluence with the East Fork and continues to Petersburg on the main stem of the White. Along the 17-mile, 5 1/2-hour trip the river winds through lowland and swamp areas with little evidence of development. The put-in is north of Washington as described above. The take-out is a public access site on the north side of the river under the State Road 61 bridge near Petersburg. By car, take State Road 61 north from Petersburg and turn left at the first opportunity after crossing the White River. The public access site under State Road 61 has ample parking and a launching ramp for easy carry-out. By canoe, the take-out is at the right under the first highway bridge after the confluence with the East Fork.

The car shuttle should take State Road 61 back to Petersburg then north on State Road 57 to Washington. In town take U.S. 50 - 150 west to the railroad tracks at Maysville, turning right at 300 W. Proceed north about 2 miles to 150 N then left to the put-in at the second bridge over White River.

White River West Form Map 4

Petersburg to Hazleton

This 24-mile trip will probably take at least 6 1/2 hours. Though it is a long stretch, the combined flow from both forks moves at a moderate rate. The water is murky, but debris along the banks is not as bad as upstream on the West Fork. Sticking to the banks, watch for obstructions in the water as the level fluctuates considerably through the seasons.

The put-in site is a public access site on the north side of the State Road 61 bridge near Petersburg. The take-out is under the new U.S. 41 bridge near Hazleton, the second bridge after the large horseshoe bend. Reaching it by car is more difficult. From U.S. 41 turn east on State Road 56 toward Hazleton. State Road 56 turns right into town but you should go straight toward the "old U.S. 41" bridge which is within sight, bearing left before crossing the old bridge. This unmarked road goes down to the river. Turn left on the gravel road rather than pass under the old U.S. 41 bridge and proceed along the river to the new U.S. 41 bridge and the take-out with ample parking on the grass under the bridge.

The car shuttle should proceed back to Hazleton and take U.S. 56 east to Petersburg. Turn left on State Road 61 to the river and the put-in across the bridge.

Hazeleton to Mt. Carmel, Illinois

This 22-mile trip covers the final stretch of the White and short segment of the Wabash to the best access site. Limited development will be in evidence along several short stretches, but on the whole the scenery is quite pleasant along the six-hour trip. A check should be made before leaving, of course, to make sure the flow and level is not dangerous for canoeing, particularly in the spring.

The put-in site is under the U.S. 41 bridge near Hazleton as described above. The take-out is a similar site under the State Road 64 bridge on the west side in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. As you enter the Wabash cross to the right bank and take out about 100 yards upstream of the highway bridge. By car take State Road 64 across to Illinois turning left at the end of the bridge. Follow the dirt road under the bridge to the primitive launch ramp.

The car shuttle should take State Road 64 East to U.S. 41 near Princeton, turning left. Proceed north to the junction with State Road 56 and turn right toward Hazleton. Where State Road 56 turns right into town go straight toward the old U.S. 41 bridge but bear left on the parallel road down to the river. Turn left on the gravel road rather than crossing under this bridge and proceed along the river to the put-in site under the new U.S. 41 bridge.