The Big Darby Creek is a state- and national-designated Scenic river, and for good reason: Find yourself paddling above clear water and under a canopy of water-loving trees like silver maple and sycamore. Look for bald eagles and ospreys overhead and spring flowers like phlox and Virginia bluebell along the riverbanks.
Just as important, the Big Darby is a clean, healthy creek. In fact, this 84-mile creek just southwest of Columbus is possibly the cleanest creek in the Midwest. It’s home to some 100 species of fish and 44 freshwater mussel species, including a number of each that are rare and endangered. Look down as you paddle for the easy-to-see fish and mussels, and look ahead for snapping turtles sunning themselves on logs.
The general paddling season on the Big Darby is Memorial Day through Labor Day, optimally Memorial Day to mid-July for enough water in this free-flowing creek to support a float. Though the Big Darby is a Class I river, high water can be dangerous—call ahead to Trapper John’s Canoe Livery to get an assessment of the water level before you head out in order to avoid hazards such as downed trees or other so-called “strainers.”