Skunk River Paddlers
Story County's Skunk River Canoe Trail,
a brochure by Story County Conservation (515) 232-2516
- 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.
More than you wanted to know - items of local interest . . .
- The origin of the name, from
Ghost Towns and Settlements in Hamilton County,
by Martin E. Nass.
Forty & Eight Cabin near Anderson
(H-Tree) Canoe Access.
- The steel truss bridge at Anderson Canoe Access was moved from the Lincoln Highway crossing in 1949. More at
Along the Lincoln Highway, Iowa Lincoln Highway Association.
Bear Creek Riparian Management System project,
National Restoration Demonstration Watershed.
(Bear Creek enters the Skunk at river-left about 1 mile above Sopers Mill)
- Soper's Mill in the 1880's, from the Farwell T Brown
Photographic Archive of 1918 flood.   More photos at
- The Skunk River Basin and the Ames Lake.
An Army Corp of Engineers Flood Control Proposal from the 1970's.
- City of Ames Flood Watch Program.
- National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services for the South Skunk River near Ames and Squaw Creek in Ames.
- Hallett's Quarry - On November 6th, 2001, 86% of Ames voters supported the Hallet's Quarry Bond Issue! You can look forward to paddling there in '03, but if you're not already familiar with the project, visit the Friends of Hallett's Quarry and the City of
Ames websites for more information.
- Unifying and promoting Iowa's waterways by the Ames Tribune Editorial Board. Iowa's waterways are one such overlooked resource. Much more can be done to promote their use. (4/30/02)
- Adopt A Park by Todd Burras, Ames Tribune Outdoors Writer. New program aims to help clean up the county's parks. (03/29/02)
- A lesson in how government works by The Tribune Editorial Board. A little-known committee that doles out federal dollars for trails in Iowa met in Ames earlier this week. (12/14/01)
- Tired of this mess by Todd Burras, Ames Tribune Outdoors Writer. The Department of Natural Resources removed a stockpile of 15,000 waste tires along Walnut Creek this past week. (11/23/01)
Getting their feet wet by Todd Burras, Ames Tribune Outdoors Writer.
Volunteers help monitor water quality of Iowa streams. (07/13/01)
- Looking at the Walnut Creek Watershed Project by Steve Lekwa, Story County Conservation Board director. (6/08/01)
- Ames Tribune
Skunk River Pot Hunters
(not what you may be thinking, but an interesting story).
There's gold on the South Skunk!
A little Iowa History http://www.dsu.edu/~whiteb/iowahist.html
Large excavation machines were once employed to drain much of the midwest's land.   (The Skunk River was channelized south of Ames to provide drainage of farm lands).   Photo from
The History of Bear Creek Watershed
One of several large cottonwoods being worked by an industrious beaver near the Union Pacific RR crossing  (May 2001).