Flatwater Paddling Guide

Saint Mary's River

I have canoed the St. Mary's river from Pleasant Mills (an Indiana town just west of the Ohio border) to the Maumee River. The St. Mary's river is highly variable: it can be a good paddling location or a disgusting stretch of polluted water depending on the section, time of year, and weather. In some of my older posts about this river, I called it the St. Mary's Sewer, and for some sections that is a reasonable description for much of the year. But given the right conditions, it is also a nice river. In winter the river can be a nearly clear stream. In dry conditions without much runoff and when the Maumee Dam (Hosey Dam) is holding the levels high, the lower St. Mary's and lower St. Joseph Rivers in Ft. Wayne make a good paddling spot. In fact, the lower section of the river can be good enough that Fort Wayne Outfitters (located alongside the river) has rental boats available. Under less ideal conditions, the St. Mary's river has high levels of pollutants, stinks, is full of trash, and dead animals. So you should always look at the conditions before paddiling the St. Mary's river, you'll often want to choose the St. Joseph River as a better paddle. In 2013, I spent a number of enjoyable evenings paddling the St. Mary's from the Guilden Park put-in.

The lowest section of the river before the confluence with the St. Joeseph river is the site of the 3 Rivers Festival canoe events.

River Flow Levels

St. Mary's River at Main Street in Ft. Wayne

River depth for USGS site 04182769
USGS Flow levels

Note, the gage height is at this point is controlled by the dam just down stream on the Maumee River.

St. Mary's River near Ft. Wayne

River flow level for USGS site 04182000
River depth for USGS site 04182000
USGS Flow levels


Moving upstream from the confluence of the St. Mary's and the St. Joe to from the Maumee. The Johnny Appleseed Park boat ramp is also a convenient put-in.

Fort Wayne Outfitters

Just downstream from the Guildin Park ramp is Fort Wayne Outfitters, where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. This has been the starting point for the 3 Rivers Festival canoe races.

View Larger Map (41.083445, -85.143444)

Guildin Park

Guildin Park is the only public boat ramp I know of on the St. Mary's river in Indiana. At this point on the river, the water level is held up enough by the Maumee Dam (Hosey Dam) to allow a good paddle through downtown Fort Wayne, and it is easy to paddle up the St. Joseph to Johnny Appleseed Park.

View Larger Map (41.081412, -85.151078)

Foster Park

Foster park has several usable unofficial put-ins, but they can be awkward depending on the river levels. The best is probably next to the tennis courts:

View Larger Map (41.049049, -85.163835)

The the bank near the baseball diamonds, and the bank near the far south parking lot are also acceptable.

Poe, IN

The Hoagland Road bridge in Poe is an acceptable put-in that I have used several times.

View Larger Map (40.937305, -85.085376)

Pleasant Mills, IN

The Route 101 bridge in Pleasant Mills can be used as a drop-off site.

View Larger Map (40.779424, -84.842297)


Conservation Organizations


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