Oakland Mills Park

Canoeing & Kayaking at Oakland Mills Park

The Conservation Boards of Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk and Washington County and the Jefferson County Trails Council, hope the Skunk River Water Trail will entice more people into enjoying the natural resources of the Skunk River corridor in southeast Iowa. The real natural beauty of the Skunk River can be enjoyed best by navigating the river in a motor boat, canoe or kayak. After the North and South Skunk River join just south of Sigourney, the river meanders freely for most of its 100 miles through farmland and wooded areas until it joins the Mississippi River. Make sure you take along your fishing pole and bait. The Skunk River is notoriously known for it’s excellent fishing. The shoreline of nearly every stretch and bend of the river is littered with fallen trees, creating excellent habitat for channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater drum and carp.The Skunk River, as any river, should be enjoyed with caution and great respect. After heavy rains, the river can rise rapidly resulting in strong currents and floating debris causing dangerous situations. Be respectful of the river, others who use it, and the people who live along its shores. Please dispose of refuse properly and wear your life jacket!


The Skunk River as it meanders through Keokuk, Jefferson, Washington, and Henry County.


Suggestions on what gear to take on a float trip:
•Extra paddle
•Personal floatation device
•A first aid kit
•A secure place for car keys
•Food and plenty of drinking water
•Sunscreen and insect repellent
•Extra clothing in a water proof bag
•Water shoes or old sneakers

Safety Tips

Basic safety rules are important for enjoyable river paddling. Use the following points as a guide for your float trip.
•Be sure each passenger wears an approved Personal Floatation Device that fits.
•Don’t overload with either passengers or gear.
•Waterproof personal gear.
•Fasten all ropes so there is no entanglement danger.
•If paddling alone, let someone know your put-in and take-out points and estimated arrival time.
•Portage around danger including low head dams and major log jams. Remember, if in doubt, get out!
•Beware of overhanging trees, log jams, brush piles and other obstacles that the water flows through rather than around. You can be pinned against them, possibly under the water, by the force of the current. Pass them on the safe side. Do not grab limbs or debris to control the boar’s direction. That’s a quick way to capsize.
• Do not try to run the low head dams. You can be trapped in the recirculating current at the bottom.
•Approach docks from downstream only.
•If you overturn, stay on the upstream side of the watercraft so you will not be crushed between it and a rock. In most cases, stay with the boat since it won’t sink.
•Don’t try to stand in the fast current. Float down stream on your back, feet first, with your toes out fo the water. This will keep your feet from catching on the bottom.
•Cold water can be paralyzing to both mind and body. Get out of it quickly. Do not lose your life trying to save your boat or equipment.
•Be alert to changing weather conditions while on the water. Get out of the water before a storm hits.


For more information on the Skunk River Water Trail in your area, contact the following county conservation boards:

Henry County Conservation Board 2593 Nature Center Drive Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641 319-986-5067.

Jefferson County Conservation Board 2003 Libertyville Road Fairfield, IA 52556 641-472-4421.

Keokuk County Conservation Board P.O. Box 323 Sigourney, IA 52591 641-622-3757.

Washington County Conservation Board 2943 Hwy. 92 Ainsworth, IA 52201 319-657-2400.