1. Consult a map and know current river conditions before boating and then file a float plan with a reliable person indicating where you are going and when you will leave and return. Remember to contact the person once you have returned safely. The rural sections of the Blanchard River Water Trail are relatively remote and isolated in places, thus offering a wilderness-like experience.

  2. Be prepared for any unknown event. Know how to get to roads if you must walk out. Know the local emergency telephone numbers. Know where you are along the trail in case you need to request emergency assistance.

  3. It is wise to never boat alone. Do yourself a favor and take a friend.

  4. Dress for the weather and water temperature. Bring an extra change of clothing with you in a waterproof bag. Pack your cellphone in the same waterproof bag with your clothes. Neoprene shoes or tennis shoes with woolen socks are recommended footwear.

  5. Carry plenty of drinking water.

  6. Do not overload or unevenly load your boat. Keep the weight in the boat centered from side to side and from bow to stern. The lower and closer the load in the boat is to the boat’s centerline, the more stable it will be.

  7. Wear a properly fitted, Class III, U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Life jackets provide buoyancy in the event you capsize, provide protection for your torso if you fall down or hit something sharp, and help retain body heat when water and air temperature are cold.

  8. Be prepared to swim.

  9. Always maintain three points of contact (e.g. two hands and one foot touching the boat) while moving around in the boat.

  10. Do not attempt to stand or walk in swift water.

  11. Never paddle a boat over a dam.

  12. Portage (i.e. carry your boat around) any section of water, hazard, or obstacle that you feel uncertain about.

  13. Avoid boating in extreme weather conditions.

  14. If you capsize, hold on to your boat unless it presents a life-threatening situation. If floating in a current, position yourself on the upstream side of the capsized boat.

Outdoor Ethics

Outdoor Ethic #1: Travel on durable surfaces, such as rock, gravel, and sand when launching, landing, and portaging. Avoid vegetation if possible.

Outdoor Ethic #2: Dispose of waste properly – pack it out. Plastic is especially dangerous to wildlife.

Outdoor Ethic #3: Leave what you find. Appreciate artifacts and natural objects, but leave them undisturbed.

Outdoor Ethic #4: Respect wildlife. Observe from a distance. Do not feed, follow, or approach wildlife. Control pets or leave them at home.

Outdoor Ethic #5: Respect the privacy and rights of landowners, since most of the riverbank is privately owned. Use public access sites and refrain from landing on private property while paddling, except when portaging around obstructions.

Outdoor Ethic #6: Be considerate of others, avoid boisterous behavior, and let nature’s sounds prevail. A few of the great joys associated with canoeing and kayaking on the Blanchard River Water Trail include the beautiful sound of silence, listening to birdsong, watching deer along the riverbank, seeing goslings and the parental tactics of Canada geese, watching great blue herons float on air within the river corridor, spotting a raccoon playing a game of peek-a-boo, and if you are lucky, witnessing mature bald eagles overhead or perched on a limb like sentinels. These are the special moments to experience if you are quiet and if you let nature’s sounds prevail.