Fort Wayne’s Rivergreenway trail system is drawing an increasing number of people down to the riverside. But there may also be more folks than ever getting up close and personal with the water. We continue our series The Three Rivers with a look at opportunities for river recreation, and who’s participating.
In their winter boots, with snow on the ground, the Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot crew is unloading dozens of new kayaks.
Eden Lamb is manager of the Outfitters, been there for seven years. She says some of these new boats are for sale, some for their rental fleet.
She says it used to just be regulars that came and rented boats, but more and more people are finding their shop. “I think the word is spreading a little bit and people want to be out on the water" says Lamb. "They see us kayaking by The Deck and they see the Fort Wayne Outfitters sticker and they come to us.”
Outfitters saw a spike in their boat business two years ago, and Lamb says she’s seen continual growth since then. They offer canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards to rent, but more people are also buying boats. At $10 an hour or $25 for the day, Lamb says kayaking is an affordable activity, so she’s pushing for more college students to come out. But it’s really for everyone.
“Families will bring their coolers, or go to Swinney Park, all the parks you can get out and spend a couple hours there, get back in and kayak down,” says Lamb.
Lamb says for a long time, people have been turned off by the brown color of the water, which doesn’t make it harmful to kayak in. “There are a ton of people in Fort Wayne that are changing their mind about that," she says, "it’s really refreshing.”
The coming months will bring warmer weather and lots more opportunities to get out on the water - from raft races, to kayaking trips, to pontoon rides during the Three Rivers Festival.
Eden Lamb says she hopes increasing river use is a trend that’s here to stay.