Black Hawk Island
Date Paddled: May 29th, 2010
Put-in: 28th Ave - Mile North of Upham Woods
Take-out: 28th Ave - Mile North of Upham Woods
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Time: 90 Minutes (estimate)
Gradient: 1.4' per Mile
Water Level: Wisconsin River @ Wisconsin Dells 3950 CFS (good depth)
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 channel but because this has been made no-wake this is relatively kayak-friendly as well.
Blackhawk Island itself is like a good chunk of the Wisconsin Dells in that it is publicly owned but largely set aside for exclusive use by private companies and private organizations (in this case run by and for 4-H, which is pseudo-public). So while the island has a cool trail system and boat access on the southwest side, it is not open to the public without approval from either the DNR or Upham Woods 4-H.
The parameter of the island is quite cool to kayak around though. Put in at the west landing (it’s a pull-off…but nice) and head upstream. There will be cool bluffs on the right… When you get to the fork at the top of the island end don’t go downstream just yet but explore the two gulches on the east side or the east channel…very scenic (but tour boats go in here, so be careful). After the gulches end, go downstream to the bottom of the island, then upstream around the south end of the island to complete the loop.
Sorry about the shortage of pictures! I hope to have better ones in the future.
Wisconsin River – Alternate Trips:
There are plenty of other good trips on the Wisconsin River. Here is a map of all possible water trails and landings from Castle Rock Lake to Wyalusing.
Below is the same information but in bullet list format:
- Castle Rock Lake to the Lemonweir River: 10 miles. An ok section reviewed Aug 12th 2012.
- Lemonweir River Mouth to the Two Rivers Landing: 7 miles. The first half of the classic Upper Dells. Reviewed Aug 19th 2012.
- Two Rivers Landing to Blackhawk Island: 6.5 miles. Note, the Blackhawk Island landing might be inaccessible now. Second half of the classic Upper Dells. Reviewed Sep 2013.
- Black Hawk Island to Wisconsin Dells Dam: 2.0 miles. More nice sandstone outcrops. You can take out at a public ramp off Indiana Ave or portage the dam and take out SW of the dam by a launch off Wisconsin Dells Pkwy/Hwy 12 .
- Dells Dam to Two River Landing/Indian Trail Pkwy: 6.4 miles. Classic Lower Dells section. Reviewed Jul 2011.
- Two Rivers Landing to Levee Road Landing: 10.3 miles. Not as popular with nothing exotic, but an ok paddle. Nice sandbars at the end.
- Levee Road Landing to Portage/Hwy 23 Access: 6.1 miles. Less popular simple section, but more nice sandbars.
- Portage to Baraboo River/Thunderbird Road: 5.2 miles. A good section with great sandbars, but can be crowded in the summer.
- Baraboo River to Dekorra Park: 2.5 miles. River splits into several channels which can be fun to explore.
- Dekorra Park to Tipperary Road/Washington Street Landing: 4.7 miles. A near section with rock outcrops, large island deltas and sandbars. Unfortunately this part of the river is INSANELY congested and overun by motorboats on summer weekends. Many alternate access options. Partly reviewed Jun 2013.
- Tipperary Road to Prairie du Sac Dam: 13.2 miles. The river turns into “Lake Wisconsin” here. An inadvisable section due to the amount of open water paddling required.
- Prairie du Sac to Mazomanie: 8 miles. An ok section of the Wisconsin but lacking in sandbars. Reviewed Aug 2013.
- Mazomanie to Arena: 9.7 miles. A great section with nice sandbars and scenic bluffs. Reviewed Aug 2015.
- Arena to Hwy 14: 8.0 miles. Classic stretch for camping with great sandbars and bluffs.
- Hwy 14 to Hwy 23/Spring Green: 2.2 miles. Neat mini section with sandstone outcrops. Very popular in the summer.
- Spring Green to Lone Rock: 7.4 miles. Another fine sand/bluff section with some nice rock outcrops too.
- Lone Rock to Gotham: 8 miles. This stretch has super impressive rock outcrops and sand banks. Reviewed Aug 2017.
- Gotham to Muscoda: 7 mile. Cool limestone rock outcroppings.
- Muscoda to Port Andrew: 7 miles.
- Port Andrew to Boscobel: 9 miles. Wooded islands start to get massive.
- Boscobel to Woodman/Big Green River: 9 miles and start of the less paddled stretch of the Lower Wisconsin. Far fewer sandbars from here to the mouth, but good bluffs and side sloughs to explore.
- Woodman to Adiantum Woods State Natural Area: 3.9 miles.
- Adiantum Woods State Natural Area to Millville: 3.8 miles.
- Millville to Bridgeport: 5.3 miles.
- Bridgeport to Wyalusing (the mouth): 9 miles. Partly reviewed Jun 2017.
For an expanded list of liveries for the Lower Wisconsin, see my livery map here.
View Wisconsin River in a larger map