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Paddling Tips & Etiquette

Trail Creek Kayaking

Know & Follow the Rules

  • Stay on navigable water trails and respect private property.
  • Do not use water trails that are closed or do not permit your watercraft type.
  • Indiana law requires all watercraft to carry one wearable PFD (personal flotation device) for each person on board.

Sharing Water Trails

Interactions at Access Sites

  • Do not park in front of or otherwise block access sites.
  • Be patient. Only one watercraft should use an access site at a time. 
  • Have your gear ready to go when it is your turn in order to minimize the amount of time needed at access sites.
  • Be friendly and courteous to other river users.

Interacting with Boaters

  • Leave proper spacing between watercrafts, and more than usual in rougher waters.
  • Slower moving watercrafts should stay right, while faster moving watercrafts should pass on the left.
  • To avoid collisions in open water, try to maintain a clear and consistent direction.
  • In the event of two watercrafts approaching head on, each watercraft should veer right.

Interacting with Anglers

  • Try to stay in the main flow when passing anglers and give them a wide berth.
  • Minimize splashing and noise levels.
  • Do not approach or startle anglers.
  • Quietly acknowledge their presence with a wave, nod, or smile.

Be a Good Steward

  • Carry in, carry out. Mesh bags tied to your watercraft are great for storing any trash you generate or find along the water trail.
  • Be mindful and considerate of your noise level.
  • Keep pets under control and on a leash.
  • Do not disturb wildlife and their habitats.
  • Respect all trail infrastructure as well as natural and cultural resources.
  • Leave what you find for others to enjoy.
  • Save any adult beverages for AFTER the paddle and once you’ve exited the water trail.

Water Trail Safety Tips


Visit our Water Trail Safety page for detailed safety information.