Fort Wayne was built at the confluence of three rivers: the Saint Joseph River, Saint Mary’s River, and Maumee River. Visitors can enjoy the diverse offerings of these rivers as they paddle through agricultural, forested, and urban lands, each providing a unique perspective on life in northeast Indiana. So, put in and paddle any of the following recommended water trails.
If you didn’t bring your canoe or kayak with you, you can rent one at Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot, located at 1004 Cass Street on the banks of the St. Marys River. Fort Wayne Outfitters offers several river hikes every Saturday from 11am and 2pm, or you can set up a time that is more convenient to your schedule. You can use your own equipment and they can transport you, or you can rent your watercraft right from them.
Two of the most popular routes they recommend include:
Start at the Boat Ramp off of Harry Baals Drive at Johnny Appleseed Park and float downstream past Stevie’s Island, a local favorite hangout for paddlers, to the confluence where our three rivers meet. You will then take a left and paddle upstream on the St. Mary’s River to the Fort Wayne Outfitters boat pier. The total trip is approximately 3.7 miles. Along the way you will pass by Don Hall’s The Deck, a local eatery that also has a pier if you want to stop for a bite to eat on the banks of the St. Mary’s River; the Historic Old Fort which is a replica of the original Fort Wayne built under command of Major John Whistler in 1816; Headwaters Park; and the Dr. Martin Luther King Bridge. This paddle will take you approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. View Trail Map
Start at Foster Park and paddle down the St. Marys River to Fort Wayne Outfitters. Along the approximately 4 mile paddle you will get to see beautiful Foster Park and Suspension Bridge; Curly’s Village Inn, a Fort Wayne staple for over 40 years; Swinney Park and Suspension Bridge; an amazing view of Fort Wayne’s skyline; Guildin Park; and the Historic Wells Street Walking Bridge. This paddle will take you approximately 2 – 2.5 hours. View Trail Map
For those who have their own watercraft and transportation we suggest the following paddles. (Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot will provide transportation if booked within 48 hours of your desired trip date).
Begin your paddle of the St. Joseph River at the IN Dept. of Natural Resources boat ramp on County Road 68 and paddle approximately 9.3 miles to the DNR access site in Leo-Cedarville. Along the way you will pass the Historic Spencerville covered bridge, and pass through mostly rural farmland and forested land. Expect to see turtles, blue heron, cranes, and smaller mammals along the river banks. The paddle will take you approximately 5-6 hours to complete. View Trail Map
The St. Joseph River has a slow flow which makes it possible to put in and take out from the same location for those that have not arranged for a car shuttle. The IN DNR access site on the Leo-Cedarville Reservoir on Grabill Road just east of S.R. 1 is a great paddle for the beginner, or anyone looking for a peaceful paddle. You will see turtles, birds, and other wildlife during you quite paddle. You can also visit the amazing Riverside Park directly across S.R. 1 from the boat access. View Trail Map
Cedar Creek, a state designated Scenic River, is a spectacular paddle. The paddle begins at the IN DNR access site on S.R. 1 just west of Clay Street in Leo-Cedarville. You will paddle through mostly forested areas and through the protected Metea County Park where wildlife abounds. Due to the nature of the Cedar Creek there are often fallen trees and some small long jams you will that will need to be portaged around between the beginning of the paddle and the next access site approximately 2.8 miles upstream. View Trail Map
The Northeast Indiana Water Trails has also developed a waterproof water trail map showing the location of the 29 access sites located on the Cedar Creek and the St. Joseph, St. Marys, and Maumee Rivers, as well as potential dangers on the water trails such as low head dams.