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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Outdoor Recreation > Trails > Indiana Canoeing > Water Trail Guide > Flatrock River Flatrock River

The Flatrock River originates in the rich farmland of Henry County and flows approximately eighty-eight miles before joining the Driftwood River to form the East Fork of White River at Columbus, Indiana. Once lined with mills producing essential materials for Hoosier settlers, the river now flows quietly, primarily through farmland with an almost constant narrow wooded strip paralleling the river.

Flatrock River

The name Flatrock appears to be a misnomer since the river flows through some of the deepest and richest soils in the State. The name may have been given for the many water-powered mills whose "flat rocks" ground the white man's grain. Only one of the 30 mills that existed on the river remains today but many of the dams remain in place. There are also a number of unique and very ornate covered bridges which were built by a master bridge builder named A. M. Kennedy.

A 23-mile section along its lower reaches provides a good canoe trip of moderate difficulty taking a little over seven hours canoeing time. There is very little development along this section and the banks include silver maple, box elder, sycamore, cottonwood, green ash and elms with sandbar willows predominating on the gravel bars. Fauna inhabiting the area include wood ducks, kingfishers, spotted-sandpipers, great-horned owls and fox squirrels. In September, 1974, the sighting of an osprey raised considerable interest as the presence of this species is rapidly decreasing. Fishing for suckers is usually successful and occasionally a catfish or bass is landed. There are no public picnic or campground facilities along the floated section, but these facilities can be found at Millrace Park in Columbus, south of the take-out point.

The recommended put-in site is at the Indiana State Highway 9 bridge over Flatrock River approximately two miles north of Norristown, or about ten miles south of Shelbyville. The southeast corner is steep with large boulders, but passable with care. In addition to the two dams noted on the map, there are several log jams and rock dams which have been partially washed out. For this reason, we recommend that the river not be floated during periods of low water level. If the flow at the Saint Paul Gaging Station is below 100 cubic feet per second, several additional portage and wading treks would be necessary.

The recommended take-out is at the U. S. 31 bridge near Columbus. The southeast corner of the bridge is the best path up to your car, which can be parked on the road shoulder on the east side of the river. It is possible to float on down to Millrace Park in Columbus, but this will necessitate portaging over a barbed wire fence on the right (west) side of a dam and is, therefore, not recommended.

Your car shuttle back to the put-in site should go north on U. S. 31 to Interstate 65, then north on I-65 to State Road 252. Head east on 252 to Flatrock, Indiana and continue east on the Flatrock Road to Norristown. Turn left on State Road 9 and go north to the bridge over Flatrock River, the put-in site.

Medical assistance is available in Shelbyville and Columbus.