Paddling Through The Bend

st.joe.river.048 (2)THE ST. JOSEPH RIVER’S sharp turn east gave South Bend its name, and two canals (raceways) drove the town’s industrial growth.

Thirty-some years ago, the abandoned East Race Waterway was converted to the nation’s first whitewater rafting course. On summer weekends, waves of white toss rafters (rent one) and kayakers (BYO) paddling Class II rapids in the middle of downtown. Another urban route links Keller Park and St. Patrick’s County Park (canoe and kayak rentals available there). Canoeing or kayaking the 4.5 miles between the two landings takes roughly 1.5 hours.

Put in at Keller Park opposite the University of Notre Dame, then paddle past neighborhoods, wetlands and parks. Potato Creek State Park surrounds Worster Lake, which means views from the water consist of thick stands of woods and the occasional beach where families play. The park rents kayaks, canoes, rowboats and pedal boats. Put your boat in on Baugo Bay to follow a creek past islands near Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park.