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Milwaukee River

Looking downstream

Last Paddled: 2014-09-06
Put In: Main Street Bridge @ Newburg
Take Out: Hwy A Bridge
Distance: 6.0 Miles
Gradient: 7.1' per mile

This is probably the best section on the Milwaukee River.  A fine paddle, with clear, red water; no jams/hazards; swift, fun current; good bank quality; and a surprising amount of wilderness for a river with this namesake. Put-in: Just downstream/east of the Main Street bridge in Newburg is a nice public put-in.  Note:  while this […]

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Grant River

Nice red bands

Last Paddled: 2014-08-31
Put In: Short Cut Road (aka Porter Hill) fishing access
Take Out: Grant River Road (Pigeon River bridge is better)
Distance: 5.4 miles
Gradient: 5.4' per mile

Not being the cleanest river nor the best wilderness experience, the Grant River is pretty much a one-trick pony.  But it is a good trick though!  What makes the Grant special are the occasional limestone and sandstone bluffs, which are fantastic and make this trip worth doing. Put-in: For a river fraught with access issues, […]

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Black Earth Creek – Mazomanie

Easily class 1 though

Last Paddled: 2014-08-24
Put In: Olson Road Bridge
Take Out: Walking Iron Park
Distance: 3.7 Miles
Gradient: 10.8' per mile

Connecting the city of Middleton to the Wisconsin River, Black Earth Creek is an obscure paddling prospect–more known for its nationally famous trout population.  Nevertheless, this creek is a wonderful little gem with a great combination of prairie paddling and forest paddling that should not be overlooked by south-central Wisconsinites. Previously in May, I had […]

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La Crosse River

Fun to play in

Last Paddled: 2014-08-17
Put In: Fishermans Park (Perch Lake Dam)
Take Out: Hammer Road Bridge
Distance: 5.36 Miles
Gradient: ~5.5' per mile

A pleasant five-mile paddle originating in the city of Sparta.  The La Crosse River has a great recipe for paddlers in swift clear water, fun ledges, and is nestled in an attractive setting.  Put-in: You will have a bevy of options for putting in, with almost contiguous green space access from Memorial Park to Fisherman’s […]

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Pecatonica River – East Branch

My favorite picture

Last Paddled: 2014-08-09
Put In: Hwy 39 Bridge
Take Out: Horseshoe Bend Road
Distance: 7.4 Miles
Gradient: 2.7' per mile (estimate)

An underrated prospect located 40 minutes southwest of Madison, with nice plantlife and tree canopies, but most of all, some splendid rock bluffs. There is a decent chance you haven’t heard of the East Branch of the Pecatonica River, as many paddle review sources do not cover it.  This is odd…but kind of a consistent […]

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Rock River – East Branch

The river is much nicer here

Last Paddled: 2014-08-02
Put In: Gill Road bridge (by Hwy AY)
Take Out: Furnace Bridge Dam (Hwy 67 bridge)
Distance: 8.25 miles
Gradient: 3.25' per mile (really 2.5' because of the dam)

For the most part, a weak paddling prospect, with slow, dirty current and open, scraggly banks.  But…the river does have redeeming attributes and nearby sections of the river have potential, so keep reading… When you think of Wisconsin’s mighty watersheds…the Fox, Wisconsin and Chippewa all come to mind, but ultimately the Rock is larger than […]

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Crystal River

Covered walk bridge

Last Paddled: 2014-07-26
Put In: Marl Lake Boat Launch
Take Out: Shadow Lake Road Bridge
Distance: 8.7 Miles
Gradient: Lake section negligible, river section 5' per mile

A must paddle for southern Wisconsinites!  This is actually a two-part trip that can be split in half.  The first four miles run through the terrific Chain O’ Lakes and the second half consists of small river paddling with clear, riffly water and (for once) tasteful bankside landscaping. Both sections are five star prospects by […]

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Robinson Creek

Incredible sandstone banks

Last Paddled: 2014-07-20
Put In: North Old Country Road Bridge
Take Out: Kelly Road Bridge
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Gradient: 7' per miles

My new favorite water trail!  I’ve paddled a lot of places…and have had a lot of top paddling experiences (including Bois Brule, Kickapoo, Wisconsin Dells Area, Halls Creek, Morison Creek and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore), but this is my new favorite and might be the best paddling prospect in all of Wisconsin. A little background […]

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Waupaca River

The famous Waupaca covered bridge

Last Paddled: 2014-07-13
Put In: Hwy Q Canoe Launch
Take Out: Brainard's Bridge Park
Distance: 7.8 Miles
Gradient: 6.2' per Mile

A classic water trail in central Wisconsin, the Waupaca River is a great prospect with striking boulder gardens, great water quality, and fun/safe riffles.  The river starts close to the city of Stevens Point and winds east before emptying into the Wolf River.  I’ve actually paddled the Waupaca before…well, kind of.  Last fall, I paddled […]

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Plover River

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Last Paddled: 2014-07-05
Put In: Jordan Park below dam
Take Out: Iverson Park (far west canal)
Distance: 8 miles (maybe more because of the log dodging)
Gradient: 3.1' per Mile

The Plover is a popular small river that flows southwest before emptying into the Wisconsin River at the city of Stevens Point.  There are multiple sections of the river that are navigable for paddlers–the upper section being more rocky and “up northy,” with nice boulder gardens, and the southern section, which is more like the […]

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Prairie River

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Last Paddled: 2014-07-05
Put In: Heineman Road
Take Out: Prairie Road Public Access
Distance: 5.5 miles
Gradient: 18' per mile (roughly)

We did the Prairie River from Heineman Rd. to the public access at the end of Prairie Road.  This stretch is only a few miles northeast of Merrill, in north central Wisconsin.  The Prairie River proved to be a typical northern Wisconsin small river, with cool, clean, root beer-colored water that moved along at a […]

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White River

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Last Paddled: 2014-06-28
Put In: 22nd Ave Bridge
Take Out: Hwy D
Distance: 8.3 miles
Gradient: 1' per mile (estimate)

A river with two identities.  The first 90%, you get clear water, sandy substrates and open, grassy vistas.  The last 10% goes through woods and, unfortunately, has some deadfall to contend with.  To clarify further, there are actually three White Rivers in Wisconsin.  This is not the more famous one located by Lake Superior (a […]

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Little Wolf River 2

lwdells2

Last Paddled: 2014-06-22
Put In: McNinch Road Public Access
Take Out: Big Falls Public Access
Distance: 7.8 Miles
Gradient: 10.7' per mile

This is a nice scenic river in which the whitewater is the highlight (or low-light). During the weekend of this trip, most rivers in south and central Wisconsin were flooded or too high to paddle (ironically, the Fever River was one of the exceptions).  One water trail on my prospect list that caught my eye […]

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Fever River (aka the Galena River)

Ancient river monolith...or maybe a bridge abutment

Last Paddled: 2014-06-14
Put In: Hwy W Park
Take Out: Ensch Road/Scrabble Branch Creek
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Gradient: 6.6' per mile

The name of the river is confusing, because while originally named the Fever River, the state of Illinois (shamed to have a river named after smallpox) renamed it to the Galena River.  This left mapmakers in Wisconsin confused…to this day.  On the flip side, some old Galena residents in Illinois still refer to it as […]

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Coon Creek

Terrific hilly vistas

Last Paddled: 2014-06-08
Put In: Hwy P Fishing Access
Take Out: Hwy 162/14/61 Bridge
Distance: 4.9 Miles
Gradient: 7.5' per mile (roughly)

An obscure paddling prospect with nice riffles, scenic hilly vistas, and no technical portages…but with some serious obstacles to contend with.  In paddling circles, few will have heard of Coon Creek or its main tributary, Timber Coulee Creek, but for fishermen this is one of the most famous watersheds in all of Wisconsin and is […]

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Morrison Creek

Portaging south shore before class 3

Last Paddled: 2014-05-31
Put In: South Cemetery Road Bridge
Take Out: State Forest Access by Creek Mouth
Distance: 7 Miles
Gradient: 20' per mile

A spectacular wilderness adventure through rapids, rock bluffs, massive boulders, wonderful plant life, clean water…and with not a single house in sight.  This Black River tributary is not without its caveats though.  This stream has possible access issues, an unpaved bike shuttle, the rapids were more serious than expected, and parasites were a drag. Let’s […]

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Halls Creek

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Last Paddled: 2014-05-24
Put In: Trow Lake Dam
Take Out: Garage Road Bridge
Distance: 4 Miles
Gradient: 10' per mile

One of Wisconsin’s crown jewel paddle trails.  This is a terrific Black River tributary with frequent class 1 rapids, root beer colored water and terrific dells.  So why haven’t you heard of it before?  Because it is a “Goldilocks stream”–it has to have “just the right” water levels to run (which is unfortunately rare).  In […]

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Black Earth Creek – Black Earth to Mazomanie

Might be able to duck under in lower water

Last Paddled: 2014-05-18
Put In: Black Earth Community Park
Take Out: Olson Road Bridge (Mazomanie)
Distance: 4.1 Miles
Gradient: 6.8' per mile

This is a very nice, clear, fast creek that runs from the Middleton Airport all the way to the Wisconsin River near Arena.  On occasion, paddlers will run Blynn Road (the last bridge) to the mouth, and this is considered a good prospect that recently was cleaned up in 2011 of log jams by “Capitol […]

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Big Slough

Nice weeping willow

Last Paddled: 2014-05-11
Put In: Malisch Road Bridge
Take Out: Big Slough Public Boat Access
Distance: 5.8 miles
Gradient: 0.5' per mile (guess)

A more obscure branch of Neenah Creek, with nothing absolutely spectacular, but all in all, a pleasant, peaceful paddle that I’m glad I did.  You’ve probably never heard of Big Slough, so I’ll provide a bit of background here…  The Fox River flows roughly south to north from Portage up to Green Bay.  The first […]

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Lodi Marsh

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Last Paddled: 2014-05-03
Put In: Lee Road - Public Access (not recommended)
Take Out: Riddle Road Bridge
Distance: 6.6 Miles
Gradient: 1' per mile (rough guess)

Lodi Marsh is a very nice natural area located a half hour north of Madison.  Basically, it is an open valley marsh that is fed with freshwater springs and accumulates into “Spring Creek.”  There it in turn flows through the city of Lodi and then eventually into the Wisconsin River at Okee Bay.  There is […]

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Hulburt Creek

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Last Paddled: 2014-04-26
Put In: Hwy H Bridge
Take Out: McDonald's (by Hwy 12 Bridge)
Distance: 2 Miles
Gradient: 3' per Mile (guess)

Hulburt Creek is an obscure little creek in the Wisconsin Dells area that few people paddle or even know about.  Normally, it is just too shallow and filled with logs to paddle (more on that later).  Thanks to our recent deluge of rain though, the creek levels really came up and I decided to give […]

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Grand River

Creek to nowhere

Last Paddled: 2014-04-18
Put In: Hwy H Canoe Launch
Take Out: Fountain Creek Wet Prairie Canoe Launch
Distance: 6 Miles
Gradient: 4-5' per mile to start (guess), then very little after that

Think Lower Baraboo meets Horicon Marsh and ends on the Portage Canal for this trip.  The Grand River is a pretty obscure prospect located southeast of Montello.  It flows east to west through a couple of dams and a large marsh/flowage before it empties into the Fox River as a decent-sized tributary.  The most prominent […]

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Big Creek

Sandhill Cranes

Last Paddled: 2014-04-12
Put In: Hwy F Bridge
Take Out: Hwy F Bridge
Distance: 2 Miles (shortened by rain)
Gradient: Negligible

Initially, this trip was going to encompass Big Creek and the north end of Lake Redstone, but due to inclement weather and ice, I was only able to paddle Big Creek and parts of Lake Redstone. Big Creek is a northern tributary to the Baraboo River close to Reedsburg. Close to the mouth, there is […]

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Neenah Creek – Oxford

Decent take-out area

Last Paddled: 2014-04-06
Put In: W Chauncey St Bridge
Take Out: Hwy A Bridge
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Gradient: 3' per Mile (guess)

Neenah creek is an occasionally paddled creek that is normally known for its open grassy areas, wetlands, waterfowl, and for being the first major tributary of the historic Fox River.  A far more obscure segment of the stream, rarely paddled, is the far upper section, which I learned about from Small River Canoe Adventures of […]

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Pine River – Richland Center

Looking upstream

Last Paddled: 2013-10-12
Put In: Canoe Port 1 or Hwy AA
Take Out: Canoe Port 4 or Hwy Q (Old Community Center)
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Gradient: 7' per mile to start - then ends at 4' per Mile

The Pine River is an under-rated prospect sandwiched between the Baraboo River and the Kickapoo River.  The lower third from Richland Center to the Wisconsin River gets occasional paddling traffic which is an ok prospect but it gets beat up by flooding.  The upper third starting from Rockbridge Park is a great prospect which I’ve […]

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Eau Claire River (Chippewa Tributary)

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Last Paddled: 2013-09-21
Put In: Harstad Park
Take Out: Hwy D Bridge
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Gradient: 2.8' per Mile

There are actually three Eau Claire Rivers in Wisconsin, so this can be very confusing.  I previously reviewed the Eau Claire River that flows into the Wisconsin River at Wausau here.  There is another Eau Claire that flows into the St. Croix, but in this case the review will focus on the river that flows […]

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Upper Dells – 2

Pillow Rocks!

Last Paddled: 2013-09-08
Put In: Town of Lyndon Landing (by River Bay Resort)
Take Out: Black Hawk Island Landing
Distance: 6.5 Miles
Gradient: < 1' per Mile

Of the many areas in the Dells to paddle, this is the best and is a must paddle for Southern Wisconsinites.  In a previous review, I paddled the first half of the Upper Dells from Two Rivers landing to about halfway on the flowage lake (take-out at River Bay Campground).  For this trip, I’ll pick […]

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Tomorrow River

DSCN9613

Last Paddled: 2013-09-14
Put In: Hwy 161/Loberg Road
Take Out: Amherst Dam
Distance: 6 Miles
Gradient: 2.5' per Mile (deceptive)

A tributary to the Wolf River, this is a very nice river/stream that is often overlooked because of its popular neighbors (Little Wolf/Waupaca/Crystal/Wolf/Plover).  The Tomorrow never gets very big before it gets to Amherst and “magically” turns into the Waupaca River (an oddity, as Rivers don’t usually change names like this).  Despite this being September […]

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Bois Brule

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Last Paddled: 2013-08-28
Put In: Stone's Bridge Landing
Take Out: Winneboujou Landing
Distance: 12 Miles
Gradient: 4.1' per mile (varies a lot)

This is one the cleanest, nicest paddling prospects in Wisconsin.  Never getting very big before it empties into Lake Superior, the river is filled with fun rapids, clear pools, historic resorts, attractive banks, and wonderful plant life.  In fact…I would rank this as the best paddling prospect in Wisconsin (the Kickapoo had that honor before […]

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Namekagon River – Hayward to Stinnett

Noisy whirlpool to the left and Stinnett landing to your right

Last Paddled: 2013-08-27
Put In: Hayward Dam
Take Out: Stinnett Landing
Distance: 9.1 Miles
Gradient: 3.1' per Mile (starts fast & ends slow)

The Namekagon is one of three nationally designated scenic and wild riverways in Wisconsin.  It’s a popular paddle location located (roughly) from Hayward and joins the St. Croix at the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  A good chunk of both these rivers is managed by the national park service and they do a good job […]

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Cedar Creek

Chance to paddle under the bridge

Last Paddled: 2013-08-17
Put In: Covered Bridge Park
Take Out: Grafton Lions Park
Distance: 3.6 Miles
Gradient: 4' per Mile

Cedar Creek is a decent-sized tributary of the Milwaukee River that runs through the small town of Cedarburg just 30 minutes north of Milwaukee.  While not widely known state-wide, the locals know all about it, and it is a popular paddling location for Milwaukee area residents. There are a number of put-in options (see map), […]

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Upper Eau Claire Flowage

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Last Paddled: 2013-08-10
Put In: Dells of the Eau Claire Park
Take Out: Dells of the Eau Claire Park
Distance: 2.25 Miles
Gradient: < 1' per Mile

The initial plan for this trip was to paddle the Eau Claire River either 7 miles above Eau Claire Dells County Park or 7 miles below.  (Note: Wisconsin has two Eau Claire rivers and this is the Wausau one…not the Chippewa River one.)  At this time of the year, the Eau Claire runs very low, […]

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Platte River 1

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Last Paddled: 2013-08-04
Put In: Airport Road Bridge
Take Out: Platte Road bridge
Distance: 5 Miles
Gradient: 7.2' per Mile

Located in the SW corner of the state, the Platte is a very nice river often overlooked by paddlers.  Unlike its more popular neighbor, the Grant, it has little in the way of rock outcroppings (although it has a few).  It also suffers somewhat from poor agricultural use and barbed wires running across the river. […]

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Black River – Mason to Irving

Only major bluff on this segment...but it is nice

Last Paddled: 2013-07-27
Put In: Masons Landing
Take Out: Irviging Landing
Distance: 9 Miles
Gradient: 1.6' per Mile

This route starts 4 miles downstream of the Black River Falls dam at Mason’s landing and goes 9 miles to the Irving landing.  You can put in earlier (see map for options), but that would have made a long trip IMO.  You can also take out at the campground (see map), which is close to […]

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Lemonweir River – 19th Ave to HH

Great sandy area by the landing

Last Paddled: 2013-07-20
Put In: 19th Ave Landing
Take Out: HH Landing
Distance: 14 Miles
Gradient: < 1' per Mile

Having done and been pleasantly surprised with the previous two sections of the Lemonweir below Mauston, I decided to do the “middle section,” which is a 14 mile stretch from the 19th Ave Landing to the HH landing (bridge to bridge).  If you haven’t already, go ahead and read my review for the first five […]

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Black River Flowage

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Last Paddled: 2013-07-13
Put In: Halls Creek Landing
Take Out: Black River Falls Dam Landing
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Gradient: < 1' per Mile

There are a number of nice prospects in the Black River area, but for this trip we did a more obscure segment that is probably only say the 4th/5th best route…yet was still very nice.   You can kind of divide the Black River in two.  Paddling above the dam at Black River Falls and paddling […]

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Pheasant Branch

DSCN2042

Put In: Lake Street Ramp (Lake Mendota)
Take Out: Lake Street Ramp (Lake Mendota)
Distance: 3 Miles Round Trip
Gradient: Virtually None

Pheasant Branch Creek is located near Madison and feeds into Lake Mendota’s northwest side.  It’s not a very large creek, so it is not very popular with paddlers.  You can usually paddle up to and past the first pedestrian bridge, but not much further due to the shallow depth and abundance of aquatic weeds.   There […]

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Baraboo River Floodplains

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Last Paddled: 2013-06-30
Put In: Cty U Bridge
Take Out: Waterfront Road Landing
Distance: 5 Miles

This is the last paddlable segment on the Baraboo River before it hits the Wisconsin.  Normally this is a mediocre prospect due to dirty water, lack of sandbars, and occasional log jams (rumor has it that it might have been cleaned out locally).  But it’s not a bad section to paddle that can be very […]

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Portage Canal

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Last Paddled: 2013-06-23
Put In: Hwy 33 (Ice Age Trail Access)
Take Out: Hwy 33 (Ice Age Trail Access)
Distance: 4.5 Miles (round trip)
Gradient: 1' (?) per mile toward the Fox

This used to be a much more popular paddle destination than it is now.  But unfortunately, the Wisconsin River end of the canal was permanently sealed and the main locks left open.  Silt, weeds, and even logs have invaded certain sections, which makes this difficult to paddle in low water.  The ‘main’ access point to […]

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Kickapoo – Far Upper

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Last Paddled: 2013-06-16
Put In: Bridge Upstream of School
Take Out: Ontario - Titanic (Private Livery)
Distance: 5 Miles

While the Kickapoo is one of the most popular paddle rivers in the Midwest, virtually nobody does the sections upstream of Ontario.  Before doing this trip I had heard mixed stories about the navigability of the far upper sections.  I emailed a local tour operator (Fred Flasher) who said he had actually done the Kickapoo […]

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Seeley Creek

DSCN1348

Last Paddled: 2013-06-09
Put In: Seeley Lane Landing
Take Out: Seeley Lane Landing
Distance: 5 Miles
Gradient: Virtually None

Located in the heart of the Baraboo Hills close to North Freedom, Seeley Creek is one the largest tributaries to the Baraboo River.  Just a couple miles upstream of the mouth, the creek is dammed to form an artificial lake, which is popular with local fishermen.  Officially, there is a DNR landing for canoes there, […]

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Rocky Run Creek to Lake Wisconsin

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Last Paddled: 2013-06-02
Put In: County V Bridge
Take Out: Private Residence (map has public options)
Distance: 5.1 Miles

This was a segment run during very high flood water (4.6 feet down by Muscoda and 11 feet up by Wisconsin Dells per USGS).  Normally, this would be a bad thing to do on the Wisconsin River, as the high water covers up the sandbars, but in this case the high water was actually a […]

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Little Wolf – 1

IMG_3302

Last Paddled: 2013-05-15
Put In: DNR Parking Area
Take Out: Big Falls Boat Landing
Distance: 7.5 Miles

The Little Wolf is one of the nicer rivers I have kayaked.  It has very nice scenery.  The forest is healthy and filled with ferns, hemlocks, and wildflowers.  Bird life is abundant.  There are several boulder gardens with some very large boulders.  Throughout the stretch, there were numerous riffles and a couple of rapids to […]

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Spring Creek

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Last Paddled: 2013-05-18
Put In: Lodi Spring Creek Fishery Area
Take Out: Lake Park
Distance: 2 Miles

This is a very nice creek that starts near the town of Lodi and empties into the Wisconsin River close to (and across from) the city of Merrimac. Spring Creek itself primarily starts in a marsh southwest of Lodi (which would be a nice kayak spot if there were access). It then winds through town […]

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Spring Brook – Lower

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Last Paddled: 2013-05-20
Put In: Lake Delton Boat Ramp
Take Out: Lake Delton Boat Ramp
Distance: 1.5 Miles

Spring Brook is one of two creeks that empties into Lake Delton by Wisconsin Dells. This is not a well traveled creek, despite being next to Lake Delton, as it is usually very shallow, lacks good public access, and has a nasty log jam.  If it were more accessible, it would probably be swarming with […]

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Honey Creek – Upper

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Last Paddled: 2013-05-11
Put In: Hwy PF
Take Out: Leland Park
Distance: Three Miles

This is a small creek located in the foothills of the Baraboo Hills, close to Natural Bridge State Park and Hemlock Draw.  For the most part, the creek is rarely paddled except for the lower section, which is closer to Sauk City and empties into the Wisconsin River.  The other exception is an area above […]

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Kickapoo River – Rockton to La Farge

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Last Paddled: 2012-09-17
Put In: Rockton Landing
Take Out: La Farge Landing
Distance: 11 Miles

Of all paddling rivers in Wisconsin this might be the most popular.  And of all sections on the Kickapoo, this is probably the second  best stretch to run after Ontario to Rockton.  There are a large number of landings on the river, at least shuttle/rental services, so you do have a lot of options as […]

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Black River 1

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Last Paddled: 2012-09-08
Put In: Hwy 53/93 Landing
Take Out: Hwy 35 Landing
Distance: 8 Miles

While the Black River is one of the more popular rivers to paddle in Wisconsin, this downstream section close to the mouth is very rarely reviewed.  You can put in at a canoe landing located at Highway 93/53.  The landing is nice and has parking, but there are no bathrooms and it is a steep […]

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Cox Hollow Lake

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Last Paddled: 2012-09-03
Put In: NW Boat Landing
Take Out: NW Boat Landing
Distance: 2 Miles

This is the smaller of  two man-made lakes in Governor Dodge State Park.  Cox Hollow is a pleasant paddle that has abundant wildlife (blue herons, eagles, clams, snails, turtles and much more from what I saw).  This and it’s sibling lake, Twin Valley, prohibit motor traffic, which is always a very big plus when it […]

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Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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Last Paddled: 2012-08-24
Put In: Miner's Beach
Take Out: Miner's Beach

While technically not in Wisconsin, Pictured Rocks is definitely worth checking out.  It is a National Scenic Lakeshore, located on the north side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula next to Lake Superior.  The prominent feature of the park are the massive colored sandstone bluffs and rock formations along the shore.  There are a couple of ways […]

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Upper Dells – 1

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Last Paddled: 2012-08-19
Put In: Two Rivers Landing
Take Out: River Bay
Distance: 7 Miles

The most famous section of the Wisconsin River is in the Wisconsin Dells area.  This is commonly divided into ‘Lower Dells’ (below the Kilbourn Dam) and ‘Upper Dells’ (above the Kilbourn Dam).  And in the Upper Dells you can kind of divide that in half….this review will be about that upstream half.  The put in […]

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Wisconsin River – Castle Rock

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Last Paddled: 2012-08-12
Put In: Castle Rock Lake Dam
Take Out: Two Rivers Landing
Distance: 10 Miles

This is a tweener section of the Wisconsin River between the string of dams up-north (which makes those sections largely un-kayakable) and the Dells.  While lacking the quantity of rock formations downstream, this is a pleasant section with mostly wooded banks, some development, and a number of sandbars and sloughs.  The start of this trip […]

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Baraboo River – La Valle

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Last Paddled: 2012-08-05
Put In: La Valle Public Ramp
Take Out: Lake Redstone County Park
Distance: 4 Miles

This is a nice little section of the Baraboo River between the city of La Valle and a take-out near Lake Redstone.  Put in at the main boat ramp on the west end of town.  You can’t park at the bar there…but have to drive a block north and park at the bike park where […]

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Menominee River

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Last Paddled: 2012-07-27
Put In: Mill Street Landing (by Little Quinnesec Dam)
Take Out: Gravel Landing Near Piers Gorge Road
Distance: 3 Miles
Gradient: 12.5' per Mile

For the most part, despite it’s clean water and scenery, the Menominee River isn’t a super hotspot for canoes and kayaks.  The issues are the many dams and the few rough rapids in between.   One of the most popular sections is from Niagara, Wisconsin to Piers Gorge Park (roughly three miles).  There is a trail […]

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Fox River – Swan Lake

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Last Paddled: 2012-07-15
Put In: Indian Trails Campground
Take Out: Swan Lake Public Launch
Distance: 4 Miles

Despite being only an hour drive from Madison, the upper Fox River tends not to be super popular with most kayakers.  This is the same historic Fox that runs right west into Portage and then north towarda Green Bay.  Mike Svob reviews two sections from the canal downstream (which I hope to run eventually), but […]

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Yahara River

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Last Paddled: 2012-07-07
Put In: W Stebbinsville Rd
Take Out: Murwin Park
Gradient: 3.8' per Mile

Originating from a chain of lakes in the Madison area, the Yahara is very popular with locals.  It’s not a super long river and has a number of dams, so there aren’t that many navigable areas before it reaches the Rock River.  The most popular section is from the site of the old Stebbinsville Dam […]

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Badfish Creek

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Last Paddled: 2012-06-23
Put In: Old Stone Rd.
Take Out: N. Casey Road
Distance: 7 Miles
Gradient: 6' per Mile

This ‘creek’ is probably one of the best kayaking prospects in southern Wisconsin.  Quite large, the Badfish Creek should perhaps instead be referred to more accurately as Yahara West.  This was kayaked during the height of the 2012 drought, and we had little problems with navigation.  The key thing to know, of course, about this […]

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Lemonweir River – Mouth

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Last Paddled: 2012-06-17
Put In: County HH Snowmobile Bridge
Take Out: Two Rivers Landing
Distance: 4-5 Miles (depends on your maze route)
Gradient: 0.9' per Mile

Again, if you’ve read my previous review of the Lemonweir you know there are three segments below Mauston and to the Wisconsin River based on the landing options:  a five mile section, a ~14 mile section, and then a remaining 5 mile section to the Wisconsin.  This review will be of that last section.  You […]

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Horicon Marsh

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Last Paddled: 2012-06-09
Put In: Green Head Rd Landing
Take Out: Horicon Marsh Boat Tours Private Landing
Distance: 10 Miles

This is a trip that takes a lot of planning to get right.  Basically, the Horicon area is a drained swamp that has been artificially restored by a dam near the center of the city of Horicon.  As you probably know, this is a VERY popular area for birds.  While there are different canoe/kayak options, […]

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Honey Creek – County C

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Last Paddled: 2012-06-03
Put In: Country Road C Bridge
Take Out: Elm Road
Distance: 3 Miles

After the Baraboo River, the next largest tributary in Sauk County flowing into the Wisconsin River is Honey Creek, which gets to a decent size before it empties into the Wisconsin near Ferry Bluff/Prairie du Sac.  The bottom section (about 5 miles up from the Wisconsin River) gets an odd canoe review or two, but […]

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Lemonweir River – Mauston

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Last Paddled: 2012-05-25
Put In: Mauston Dam
Take Out: 19th Ave Landing
Distance: 5 Miles
Gradient: 0.9' per Mile

This is probably not one of the more well known rivers, but it is very nice never-the-less.  It empties into the Wisconsin River just north of the Dells rock formations.  The upper sections are absolutely not as popular as the lower sections.  Mike Svob does review one such section north of New Lisbon, but it […]

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Mecan River

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Last Paddled: 2012-05-19
Put In: Cty Hwy Y/JJ Put In
Take Out: Hwy 22
Distance: 10 Miles (Svob is wrong at 7)
Gradient: 2.5' per Mile

About a half hour north of Portage is a nice little river in the Mecan.  This is a popular kayaking river and it is easy to see why.  The water is very clean and the banks are largely undeveloped and wild.  The current is unexpectedly strong and there are  a few riffles you’ll get to […]

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Upper Spring Brook

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Last Paddled: 2012-05-13
Put In: Spring Brook Landing
Take Out: Spring Brook Landing
Distance: 3 Miles Round Trip (Roughly)

If you plan on kayaking in the Dells/Lake Delton area, chances are you’ll do either Mirror Lake, the Upper Dells, the lower Dells, or even Lake Delton.  Somewhat of a secret that most paddlers don’t know about is Spring Brook, which is a very cool creek north of Dell Creek and empties into Lake Delton […]

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Lake Delton

From Hwy 12 where Spring Brook enters the lake

Last Paddled: 2013-05-05
Put In: Lake Delton Boat Ramp
Take Out: Newport Park (Wisconsin River)
Distance: 3-4 Mile Loop or 1 mile One-way

Lake Delton is quite different from its upstream sibling, Mirror Lake, in that it is dominated by large commercial interests and powerboats, while Mirror Lake largely consists of public land, modest residential homes, and paddlers taking advantage of the no-wake zones. If you do want to paddle Lake Delton, you’ll probably want to do so […]

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Upper Dell Creek

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Last Paddled: 2010-06-26
Put In: Coon Bluff Road
Take Out: Delton Boat Landing (Lakeview Road)
Distance: 3 Miles

To be clear, this is not the most popular or best section of Dell Creek, but is a pleasant little section that can be a trip unto itself or an extender for lower Dell Creek trips. Most kayakers do not go further west than the Delton Boat Landing (really no rock formations past this point, […]

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Baraboo River – Wonewoc

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Last Paddled: 2011-09-11
Put In: Union Center - Hwy 33 Bridge
Take Out: Wonewoc - County Rd FF
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Gradient: 2.7' per Mile

This is as about upstream as you can get on the Baraboo. I believe you can put in further upstream (it seems deep enough…barely) but the main shuttle company in the area doesn’t like to because the river cuts through a golf course and their insurance company won’t cover this. This section is cleared out […]

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Wisconsin River – Prairie du Sac Dam

Much nicer sandbars after Ferry Bluff

Last Paddled: 2011-08-13
Put In: Prairie du Sac Dam (VFW Park)
Take Out: Ferry Bluff or Arena
Distance: Ferry Bluff (8 Miles) or Arena (14 Miles)
Gradient: 2.1' per Mile

From the Prairie du Sac Dam to the Mississippi River is probably Wisconsin’s most popular all-around canoe and kayak destination (well…if not top, tied with the Kickapoo and St. Croix for popularity). A number of reasons why this section is so popular: It is not impeded by any dams Great sandbars (at least after Ferry […]

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Lake Redstone

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Last Paddled: 2011-08-06
Put In: Lake Redstone South Beach
Take Out: Lake Redstone South Beach
Distance: 3-4 Mile Loop

One of the most under-rated paddling prospects in southern Wisconsin is Lake Redstone.  On the face of it…this wouldn’t seem like a good paddling prospect.  It’s merely a very large (more-so long) man-made lake with no helping current, little public property, lots of development and lots of power boats.  But what makes this lake unique […]

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Pine River – Far Upper

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Last Paddled: 2011-07-23
Put In: Pier Natural Bridge County Park
Take Out: Hwy Aa Bridge (or better yet Dd Bridge)
Distance: 6 Miles (Dd) or 12 miles (Aa)

The Pine River is an interesting prospect located between the Kickapoo River and Baraboo River. Perhaps overlooked by so many river reviews because Wisconsin already has three other rivers named ‘Pine River’ (one of which is a popular paddling location). The cool thing about the Pine River is the Rock formations that run along the […]

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Wisconsin River – Lower Dells

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Last Paddled: 2011-07-16
Put In: East of Mexicali-Rose
Take Out: Indian Trail Landing
Gradient: 1.3' per Mile

The best place to start a trip on the Lower Dells IMO is to just put in below the Kilbourn dam on the west bank. Here is where Rivers Edge Resort drops off kayakers/canoers/tubers (they do rentals/shuttles). It’s not a proper boat landing but rather a specialized tour-boat landing with a rail system…so probably won’t […]

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Baraboo River – City Section

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Last Paddled: 2011-07-09
Put In: Giese Park
Take Out: Glenville Landing
Distance: 8 Miles
Gradient: 3.7' per Mile (section 1) or 10' per Mile (section 2)

This 8 mile trip, finishing through the city of Baraboo, is probably the best and most popular section on the Baraboo River. The main trip starts at Giese Park, a county landing a couple miles west of the city of Baraboo. The trip starts at a moderate pace through farmland and a thin layer of […]

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Kickapoo River

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Last Paddled: 2010-08-28
Put In: Ontario (one of the private landings or County P Bridge)
Take Out: Bridge #7
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Gradient: 3.5' per Mile

In terms of popularity the Kickapoo is one of the most popular canoe and kayak rivers in Wisconsin. Probably doesn’t have quite the rental volume of the lower Wisconsin River, but certainly has the highest paddler to river mile ratio in the state. What makes the Kickapoo attractive is the relatively clean water (at least […]

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Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

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Last Paddled: 2010-08-14
Put In: Meyer's Beach
Take Out: Meyer's Beach
Distance: 8-10 Miles Round Trip (easy to shorten because it is a loop)

There are a number of paddling opportunities on Lake Superior, but by far and away the best section is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and surrounding area, which will be touched on in detail below. Kayaking on Lake Superior is obviously very different from river paddling, as the water can get very cold and the […]

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Mirror Lake

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Last Paddled: 2010-05-29
Put In: Delton Boat landing
Take Out: Lake Delton Boat Ramp
Distance: 3.3 Miles + Dam Portage

This is a very good route and in fact would be a great introductory route for somebody who just purchased a kayak or is new to the sport. The only downsides are slow current and ‘people issues’ during the weekends, but all in all this is very nice. The water is pretty clean for the […]

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Black Hawk Island

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Last Paddled: 2010-05-29
Put In: 28th Ave - Mile North of Upham Woods
Take Out: 28th Ave - Mile North of Upham Woods
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Gradient: 1.4' per Mile

A very nice trip in and of itself is the Blackhawk Island loop. It’s about 2.5 miles and the current isn’t too bad. The west side is protected from the big boats because it is relatively shallow (although private boats/jet skies can be a nuisance on the northwest side). The east side is the main […]

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