The Tippecanoe River is considered the river of lakes. It is fed and nourished by eighty-eight natural lakes including some of the state's largest. It has a drainage area of approximately 1,900 square miles owing to the many small tributaries. Many lakes and swamps are the source of the tributaries, providing a more or less continuous flow of water. Each lake acts as a settling basin which reduces the amount of silt carried. The gentle, 166 mile river is bordered for much of its length by green fields and forest as it meanders down from Tippecanoe Lake in Kosciusko County. This is the deepest lake in the state. There is good fishing and hunting to be found along the river's banks and in the many cold springs that bubble out of the high bluffs and banks. Several small green islands add to the natural beauty of the Tippecanoe River. The water is amazingly clear and is generally muddy only after a storm. The Tippecanoe has an unusual profile in that its fall in the lower course greatly exceeds the fall in the upper course. This has resulted from the glacial drift material through which the river flows in the upper course.
The Tippecanoe River is a haven for warblers, red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhites and wild ducks. This quiet river surrounded by nature is enjoyed by sportsmen and others attracted by its environment. Also of interest are the many aquatic grasses which are unique to the Tippecanoe.
The river's energy was harnessed early to turn mill wheels which were used to grind wheat. Today man still harnesses its energy to provide electricity. Two large dams were built in the mid 1920's along and below Monticello and have created Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman. These lakes, although designed for the creation of electricity, are use extensively for recreation. The river passes by the Potawatomi Village where the Indians in 1832 signed away for the last time their rights to Indiana soil. The Indians' great defeat to General William Henry Harrison in 1811 is marked by the Battleground Memorial.
Warsaw to Route 19
This ten mile section flows through extensive swamps and wetlands. It is difficult to follow the main corridor due to the growth of vegetation in the river. Along the four-hour trip there are numerous log jams and low-hanging branches which add interest, but are also hazardous. The average drop of the river is approximately 30" per mile, causing a moderate water flow.
Fishermen enjoy good fishing for pike, bass, and panfish. The banks of the river are lined with willow, maples, pine, oak and sycamore trees. Doctors and a hospital are located in Warsaw.
The put-in for the float between Warsaw and State Road 19 is a low stream bank west of Warsaw, adjacent to Old Highway 30 at the rest park near the bridge over the Tippecanoe. The car shuttle beginning at the Old Highway 30 put-in runs west on Old 30 to State Road 19. Continue south on State Road 19 to the river. The Mollenhour Public Access Site adjacent to State Road 19 has easy take-out facilities including a concrete ramp and a twenty-car parking lot.
Route 19 to Old Tip Access Site
This six-mile section of the Tippecanoe River is a beautiful four-hour float. The river flow is moderate but increases at various locations. This flow rushes you under sycamore, maples and willow trees which stretch out across the river. For the fishermen there is good bass, pike and panfish fishing. Plymouth and Warsaw have medical facilities and doctors in case of an emergency.
Putting in at the previously mentioned access site, the car shuttle begins at State Road 19 and the Tippecanoe River junction. Continue north on State Road 19 and the Tippecanoe River junction. Then proceed west to Route 331 where you turn south through Old Tip Town to the take-out adjacent to Route 331. There is a concrete ramp and ample parking facilities.
Old Tip Access Site to Menominee State Fishing Area
This fourteen-mile journey is a very pleasant and scenic six-hour trip. The river's corridor is lined with trees interspersed with farmland and developed areas. Not only is this section extremely scenic, it offers good fishing for the fishermen. Many bass, pike and panfish make the Tippecanoe River an excellent spot.
The put-in has already been mentioned in the last section and is located adjacent to Route 331, 3/4 mile north of Tippecanoe, Indiana where the bridge passes over the river.
The car shuttle begins at the Old Tip Town put-in by going south on Route 331 to State Road 110. Proceed west on Road 110 to Old U.S. 31 south. Continue south on Old Route 31 to the first county road past the river. Go left on this county road until you reach the Menominee State Fishing Area where there is a concrete ramp and ample parking.
Menominee State Fishing Area to Monterey
The nine-hour float between Rochester and Monterey is a scenic twenty-two mile trip. The moderate river flow allows you to enjoy this section of the river. The banks are lined with maple, willow and sycamore trees, providing excellent scenery with little development. Those wishing to camp along the way will find numerous private camping areas between Leiteus Ford and Rochester.
The put-in at Menominee State Fishing Area is the access used for take-out in the previous trip. To arrange your car shuttle, return to Old U.S. 31 and turn north. At State Road 110 turn left (west) and go about 9 1/2 miles to State Road 17. Cross the state highway and continue to 625 E. Turn left (south) on 625 E and go about three-quarters of a mile (passing the 750 N intersection) to a small road to the left which leads to Monterey City Park. The site has a concrete ramp, picnic area, pit toilets and ample parking facilities.
Monterey to Tippecanoe River State Park
The 15-mile float between Monterey and Tippecanoe River State Park is one of the more beautiful sections of the river. It is a very enjoyable 6-8 hour trip between banks lined with maple, sycamore and willows.
The river provides several natural swimming areas and fishermen enjoy good fishing for pike, bass and panfish. Camping facilities are available at Winamac State Fish and Wildlife Area, Tippecanoe River State Park and Bass Lake State Beach.
Put in at Monterey City Park, which was described in the last section. It has facilities for parking, picnicking, launching and pit toilets. To reach the take-out point go west out of Monterey and flow the signs to Tippecanoe River State Park. When you enter the state park the gate attendant will direct you to the launch area which has a concrete ramp for easy take-out.
Tippecanoe River State Park to the Winamac Access Site
The 5 1/2-hour float between the state park and Winamac has natural scenery with development scattered along the river bank. The moderate water flow travels the 15-mile distance offering a variety of recreation opportunities including picnicking, fishing, and swimming along the river. Fishermen will enjoy fishing for pike, smallmouth bass and red eyes. Winamac is the closest location for medical assistance.
The Tippecanoe River State Park access is described in the previous section. For a car shuttle take State Road 35 through Winamac. About one mile south of Winamac turn right on county Road 50 E and go south until another road enters from the left. Follow this road to the Winamac access site where there is room to park twenty cars.
Alternative access sites are located in Winamac City Park. From State Road 35 to reach the canoe access turn east on Washington St. in Winamac, across the bridge and watch for the park entrance on the left (north) side approximately 200 yards east of the bridge. Turn left and proceed to the canoe access site. A boat launch is also available and can be reached from State Road 35 by turning east on Main St. although the two access sites are about 250 yards from each other, the boat launch is almost a mile downstream from the canoe access.
Winamac Access Site to Pulaski
Between Winamac and Pulaski the canoeists encounters beautiful trees and thick undergrowth; however, there is also much human development. The river flows lazily and in the shallows there will be large rocks in the river bed. As in other sections there is good fishing for bass, pike and panfish along the river corridor.
This short, seven-mile section should take only 3 or 3 1/2 hours to float. Using the Winamac State Access Site as a put-in, you can drive to the take-out by returning to the town of Winamac and taking State Road 119 south to Pulaski where you turn right and cross over the river into town. Take the first street to the right and proceed two blocks and turn right again into the Pulaski Conservation club.
Below Pulaski the river widens as Lake Shafer and Lake Freeman form. Although these lakes can be canoed, we have not included them in this guide.