Paddling the Little Calumet River Water Trail: East Branch

Little Calumet River — A New Challenge

This is another waterway which requires some skill and portage abilities, depending on where you go. Working with partners, the park and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association are working to make sections of the east branch of the Little Calumet River open for recreation. Along this section of the river, there are several new fully developed public access sites. Shirley Heinze Land Trust has two new sites beginning at the Wykes Plampin Nature Preserve at the corner of Indian Boundary and Brummit Road. Additionally, a second site is located on the Keith Ricard Walner Nature Preserve on Taylor Street both in Chesterton. There are undeveloped launch sites at Waverly and Wagner, and Mineral Springs roads. Finally, the park has, as of May 2019, NW Indiana’s newest fully accessible launch site on Howe Road at the historic Camp Goodfellow canoe launch.

For more information on paddling in the region, visit the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association’s website.

Visit the USGS River at Porter website for current conditions.

For an interactive map of launch locations visit our Launch Site Map of the Little Calumet River Water Trail: East Branch.

 
A map of Launch Sites at the Little Calumet River Water Trail East Branch

A map of the Launch Sites at the Little Calumet River Water Trail East Branch.

 

Safety Considerations

While the East Branch of the Little Calumet River is relatively shallow, it does have some potentially serious safety issues that must be considered before planning a trip.

The East Branch of the Little Calumet River Water Trail for canoes and kayaks is in the early stages of development. Some access points have steep grades and muddy conditions. There are only a few support facilities such as washrooms, fresh water, and fully developed put in locations along the water trail. A number of improvements will develop in the upcoming years.

 

General Safety Advice

  • Always wear a properly fitted life jacket.

  • Take an on-water course to develop safety knowledge and paddling skills. Contact the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association www.NWIPA.org for further information.

  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions.

  • Leave a trip plan with friends and family.

  • Cold water is extremely dangerous! Wear a wetsuit or drysuit when temperatures plummet (especially necessary below 70 degrees). Keep spare clothing in a sealed bag in your canoe or kayak.

  • Respect private property ownership along the river.

  • Do not litter. Please be a river steward and clean up litter.

  • If you encounter an angler or someone fishing, please be courteous and allow them to retrieve their cast before proceeding.

  • If you encounter a log jam that is blocking safe access, use extreme caution if you attempt to portage or go over log jams.

  • The East Branch of the Little Calumet River should never be paddled at or near flood stage. Many bridges become impassable log jams present a major hazard.

  • There is a large number of standing dead trees along the river due to the Emerald Ash Borer die off. Avoid paddling on extremely windy days.

  • (Wykes-Plampin Launch Site Only) Along the water trail, you will encounter a set of rapids that are under the US 49 bridge that often has to be portaged on top of rip rap stones or can sometimes be ran with an appropriate boat with an experienced paddler.

  • State law requires a whistle for emergencies.

  • Finally, there is an extremely dangerous low head dam adjacent to the Praxair facility in Burns Harbor just past SR 149. Paddlers need to use extreme caution at this location and never attempt to go over the dam.

  • The water quality of river frequently may contain elevated bacteria levels, especially immediately following significant rain fall. Use caution with direct contact to the water such as with your skin, mouth, and nose.

 

Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement

Paddlesports involve risks and dangers of damage to personal property and serious bodily injury, including permanent disability, paralysis, and death. These risks and dangers may be caused by my own actions or inactions, the actions or inactions of others participating in paddlesports, the condition in which the activity takes place, or the negligence of all property owners, river management agencies, or other organizations involved with river stewardship. By choosing to paddle, you are acknowledging that you fully accept and assume all such risks and responsibility for losses, costs, and damages that you may incur as a result. By choosing to paddle, you hereby release, discharge, and covenant not to sue any and all property owners, river management agencies, or other organizations involved with river stewardship of the East Branch of the Little Calumet River Water Trail.

 
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Take Part in Keeping the River Spectacular

Please help keep the East Branch of the Little Calumet River Water Trail Open! Contact the Park Connection by emailing us or at 219-221-7098 to report log jams or to join the River Patrol Program.

Last updated: June 9, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304

Phone:

(219) 395-1882
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center phone number.

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