Big & Little Darby Creeks
March 11, 12, 13, 2016




It was an unofficial OHCRA outing as Tony wanted to paddle the Darby Creeks to work toward his Paddle Ohio Pins. Using the club's email list group he soon had four other members agreeing to paddle. The only two problems were; the 1.5 inches of rain that fell the Wednesday and Thursday before and the lack of camping close to the Darby's. Delaware State Park had one loop open and since most everyone was coming from the north, it was decided to camp there. It was still an hour's drive to the put in for the creeks but was the best option available.

Tony met Harold at the campground early Friday afternoon and after setting up tarps to shield from future rain, it was off to Delaware for lunch. Arriving back at camp Steve and Coleen were already sat up. Chuck arrived later and that rounded out the five paddlers. Harold picked up Laurie later after some friends dropped her off at the highway. The ground at camp was very damp but with a roaring campfire to keep things warm it was an OK evening for camping.

Big Darby

Saturday morning was cold with frost on everything. After morning drinks and checking the weather reports the game was on. Temperatures were indeed going up to the mid 60's, sunny and no wind. It was off for the hour drive to West Jefferson, Ohio and the Darby's. At State Route 40 (which is west of Columbus, Oh) the Big Darby runs five miles to Alkire Road through Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. There is an excellent canoe access spot at the Darby Creek Trail Parking area. The water was high, around seven feet on the USGS stream gauge but it looked very paddle-able to the canoeists. They headed west about two miles to look at the Little Darby. At the St Rt 40 bridge crossing, there is a McDonald's and after eating breakfast they received permission to park a vehicle in their lot for that section of the trip.

After shuttling vehicles they were on the Big Darby waterway at 11:06 am. Great speeds were possible with the swift current and it didn't take long to reach the low head dam at Darby Dan Farms. The mandatory portage on river left was very easy. After re-entering the brown, muddy water Steve paddled over some rapids caused by rocks across the river. Tony did not see the rock that hit the left side of his canoe and when it hit, his canoe shot quickly to the right (lots of rocker on his Bell, Wildfire) causing it to be sideways to the rushing water. In an instant he was in the cold water, not being able to touch bottom. The water was moving so fast that it took time to regain footing and drag to shore. Since the water temperature was low and the day still cool, a change of clothes was in order. Everyone in the club must carry dry clothes on spring trips and it was a great thing they did. Tony's camera was out of commission but carefully the cell phone was used for a few more pictures. The rest of the Big Darby down to the take out was uneventful. Wildlife and human life were out in full force enjoying a break from spring fever.

Little Darby

After loading the canoes it was up to the McDonald's parking lot and launching on the Little Darby. That creek is more narrow then the Big Darby so the water which was at 7.93 on the stream gauge, was moving at a quicker pace. In the smaller stream with branches and logs reaching out to grab you some problems started creeping up. All five folks were paddling canoes with everyone but Tony using a kkkayak paddle but Chuck and Harold switched to canoe paddles seeing the restricted stream. At the first major strainer the force of the water was just pushing everyone into the mess and Coleen went over. In fact Coleen capsized twice on the Little Darby once floating 1/4 mile in the water before gaining her footing. Steve and Chuck both capsized twice and Harold lost it once. Tony escaped the wrath of the Little but there were still close calls. With only one change of clothes Coleen, Chuck and Steve had to paddle wet but the sun did shine and made for a tolerable afternoon. Two hats, a sponge and a cup were all that was lost in the dunkings. A mink ran along shore before ducking in a hole and squirrels were everywhere. Deer and birds of all kinds were enjoying the glorious day. Everyone was getting tired from working so hard to keep straight and upright that it was a huge relief to see the take out after 6.5 miles. Lots of people were milling around and watching the fools get off the river and a couple folks even helped carry the canoes up to the parking lot. Quickly loading up it was back to camp for dry clothes and food.

Laurie stayed back at camp and greeted Ted and Connie who came out to camp in their new, used full size van. You could sleep lots of people in that monster of a vehicle. Since everyone was very hungry and tired and not wanting to cook, it was off to Delaware to the Ole Bag of Nails restaurant. Lots of beer and food soon calmed everyone down where they could go back to camp and relax around a blazing campfire. Steve was ready to leave and go home after he found out there was no hot water for showers, but a box of Kleenex to dry his tears and the promise of ice cream (no sprinkles) convinced him to stay. Harold was so tired he went straight to bed. Lots of snoring was heard in the night as raccoons invaded the campsites for the second night. The first evening they got all of Steve's food in his soft sided cooler. They used their little hands and UNZIPPED the cooler. Tony had a five gallon bucket with a gamma seal lid. They couldn't get it opened but they did drag it back into the muddy woods.

Sunday rain fell in the early morning hours and the forecast was for rain all day. Steve, Chuck and Coleen were on the road by 8:30 am heading home to hot showers. The others visited for a while before calling it quits and thinking of next month when the official OHCRA season starts. The questions still lingers...should they have been canoeing on the Little Darby when the water conditions were so high? Or is that only time a person can paddle it due to it being too shallow in the summer? Everyone made it back safety and OHCRA members do watch out for and take care of each other. In the future everyone will try their best to keep the open end up!!


View All Pictures From the Darby's