Turkey Run - Bloomington, IN

Has anyone ever paddled Turkey Run, located close to Indianapolis, Indiana? Just wondering your opinions/thoughts…Its a bit of a drive for me to get there but looks very scenic.


Correction - Bloomingdale, Indiana…
…not the home of IU

That’s Sugar Creek.

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 11:02 PM EST –

Turkey Run is one of two state parks it runs through. It goes through Shades first.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Great current. Easy to do. Nice scenery including a few, historic covered bridges. A Bald Eagle or two. Love it. It's my favorite in Indiana.

But there's no stinkin' water in it right now. 1.11' at the Crawfordsville gauge. Below 2.0', you'll drag a few times on any of the sections. Below 1.7, you'll be walking a lot. Below 1.5'? Foghetaboutit . . . .

Sugar Creek is one of those great places in the Spring, when the water is high, cold and clear. And there are no renters. By July, the entire river is wall to wall drunk rental canoes, and the whole river smells of stale beer. Fall would be nice again too (no renters in low temps) IF there was water, but there likely won't be enough.

Keep an eye out on the Meet & Paddle board next Spring for "Indy Paddlers" posts from me and Yakjak, or Reggie, or Eskimoin. We'll probably do 8-10 trips on it next Spring & early Summer and others are always welcome.


Awesome review, I appreciate that!

I think you saved me a disappointing trip up there. The pictures looked amazing, which was what caught my attention…The Blue River in SE Indiana is one of the closest spots to me, but its just your typical run through a wooded area – but again, very low water levels. Do you know if this is a pretty typical year as far as rain levels go? I guess my best best for now might be a small lake rather than a river – I’m close to Hardy Lake, which I hear isnt too bad.

The Blue
On the Blue I like the reach from Milltown down. Lots of riffles and CI, hills and cliffs, very scenic. The Blue is every bit as nice as Sugar Creek.

Sugar is good but from Darlington to C’ville is my favorite reach and again, you need water.

Creeks and small rivers in Indiana have become rain dependent. Field tiling? Climate change? Just drought conditions? Who knows?

Late summer to early fall we start to run out of water. That’s when I break out the sailing canoe and head to the lakes!

This has been fairly typical as jjoven
stated. We get dry. Last year was much worse. If you want a three day weekend to camp and paddle on Sugar Creek, think Memorial Day. But think WAY ahead. The temps are still cool enough at the time, though, that the renters and tubers are still pretty low, or at least the canoe renters are more family oriented than drunks looking for a water float.


Turkey Run Paddling…
Great park…!!! Really like it. Paddled it in spring when the ex (she’s a teacher) was on her spring break. Nice lodge and great hiking, too. Here are some pics…



Happy Trails,


sugar creek is much better than
the blue river i.m.h.o. i ve done them both with good water levels this year and not only is sugar creek more senic its also a better ride downriver…no offence to the blue as its a nice place to paddle…yako said it ,watch for our posts and we will be on sugar creek when the water is right…jack

Canoe Renter
I am one of “those renters” every time I fly back to my home town (Crawfordsville) to visit family. I usually pack a sandwich & a bottle of water for the trip - so I wouldn’t know anything about getting drunk and trashing the place. It’s beautiful when the water is high enough to paddle. I try to canoe there every time I visit, as it is just too nice to pass up on (unless the water level is too low).

Turkey run is also beautiful, but I have seen it primarily from the “hiking” side of things. Shades is also wonderful to hike, and I would highly recommend it. Just a great place to “get away” for awhile.

Wow, I still can’t believe I read a post about Sugar Creek on the internet!

Just because you rent a canoe, does not
make you a “canoe renter”. I meant no offense to you or those like you. The family renters have typcially been staying clear of Sugar Creek in temps over 90 as well, and I doubt it’s the heat that keeps them away.

Actually, our term for the drunk variety has been “River Dorks”. Tube or canoe, the vessel does not matter. In the hands of a River Dork, a canoe is no more maneuverable than a tube anyway.

The next time you visit, and find that Sugar Creek is floatable (2’+ on the C-ville gauge), keep an eye on the “Getting Together” board for a Sugar Creek gang-style paddle. We frequently run from C-ville to Shades or Shades to Turkey Run in the Spring, and having met several additional folks this Summer at various events, so I expect we may have groups of as many as ten+ from time to time. More are always welcome.


Hardy Lake
I’m located in Louisville however, Ive never been to hardy lake mainly because of the rumor of high motor boat traffic, boozers and so on. For a great day of flat water I usually go to Deams Lake which is just a few minutes off I-65 in southern Indiana. It’s a trolling motor lake only and has a great shoreline and good camping too.


Those Rentors
Yos, no offense was taken. My statement about being one of “those renters” was meant as tongue-in-cheek humor. I was just happy to read about a place I call home - especially since I now live in CA. I know what you are talking about with regard to the “dorks” who get drunk and float down Sugar Creek. My wife and I stayed at the Yount Mill Inn many years ago, and the owner complained about having to go down to the creek every so often to pick up trash and beer cans left by people in the Canoes.

The last two years I have not been able to Canoe down Sugar Creek (I usually do the Shades to Turkey Run route, btw), so I’m not aware if what’s been happening on the water lately. I did hike both Shades and Turkey run both times, and I noticed there are a lot more people using Turkey Run these days. Shades is still my favorite.

Yes, that’s our favorite too.
But the traffic when it’s warm ruins the beauty and renders it non-paddleable. Too many tubers and river dorks. It’s beautiful when the water and air temp are still nice and crisp, though . . . .

The C-ville to Shades entrance section is nice because it gets a bit less rental traffic. It also can get quite a few areas with standing waves at above 3’ on the C-ville USGS gauge. Can be fun.


C’ville to Shades
Can you rent a canoe to go from C’ville to Shades, or do they just go from Shades to Turkey run? I’m planning on being back in Indiana some time this spring, so I might try that section out.

Post your visit in the “Getting Together” board and maybe some of us can join you. Depending on your boat preference, we may be able to spot you a boat and save you the rental fee as well. I’ve got an extra kayak or two.


Yos, I will keep that in mind. I do not have any set date at this point, but I do plan to go back to Indiana sometime late Spring. Hopefully there will be enough water level to paddle on the creek. Anyway, thanks again for all your help.

The water level there was good through
mid-Summer this year. I would suspect it will be pretty good late Spring. Let us know a couple of weeks ahead, again, on the “Getting Together” board, as we don’t always check this “Tripping” board often . . . .


Nice, But?
I live not too far from there and go there quite a bit with my family during the summer.

Sugar Creek is good if the water level is high, But if it’s low there are a lot of hidden rocks in the shady areas to watrch out for.

I have a much nicer time going to Washington Park, in Michigan City, IN and paddling the lake front up to St Joseph Harbor.


Sugar Creek
from Shades State Park to Turkey Run State Park is absolutely delightful. This is my favorite section of Sugar Creek. With the recent rains the creek should be up a bit and very runnable. There will be no other river dork traffic this time of the year.

If you start a thread in the getting together to paddle section titled Indy Area Paddlers you may snag some locals who will join you.