Skunk River Paddlers


Story County's Skunk River Canoe Trail,
a brochure by Story County Conservation (515) 232-2516

from the Story County Conservation Upper Skunk River Canoe Trail brochure

  • Total distance equals 18 miles; up to 6-8 hours depending on flow.
  • Best floating conditions occur in the Spring or Fall, or anytime flow is above 120 cfs at the Ames gauge.   Between Bear Creek (above Sopers Mill) and 180th or Riverside Road there are several rocky riffles and small drops.   These are most interesting at flows near 200-250 cfs.
  • The dam above Riverside Road is easily portaged river-right on a concrete apron which is part of the dam itselt. Approach carefully & be prepared for potentially strong eddy currents when you put back in. The dam at River Valley Park marks the end of the Canoe Trail.   You can portage the dam and continue to the Youth Sports Complex on Billy Sunday Road, or launch there & enjoy a nice float to Story County's Askew Bridge near Cambridge.
  • More information on the South Skunk (though somewhat dated) can be found at the Iowa Fishing and Floating Guide.
  • Canoe rentals are available at:
    Ames Outdoor Gear, 4723 Lincoln Way (292-2276),
    ISU Recreation Services (students and staff only),
    Seven Oaks Scenic River Floats (4 miles west of Boone on Hwy 30).
  • Public Canoe Accesses are shown above, as are most areas owned by the County Conservation Board.   Camping is allowed at Bear Creek and at two sites near McFarland Park.   You can get the Canoe Trail brochure and a more detailed map of the Skunk River Greenbelt at the Conservation Center at McFarland Park.   Note that some sections of both the river and greenbelt trail lie outside the public areas, so unless you know differently, assume you are on private property.   See Meandered Rivers.

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