Lemonweir River – Mouth
Date Paddled: June 17th, 2012
Put-in: County HH Snowmobile Bridge
Take-out: Two Rivers Landing
Distance: 4-5 Miles (depends on your maze route)
Time: 5.5 Hours (atypical...expect 2-3 hours instead)
Gradient: 0.9' per Mile
Water Level: Lemonweir River @ New Lisbon 135 CFS (good but tad shallow)
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 can, of course, lengthen this trip by taking out at one of the landings on the Wisconsin River or by putting in close to Mauston (that’s a long trip though).
This is a very pleasant section that I liked. The ‘drop car location’ is the Two Rivers boat ramp near the conflux of the rivers. Very nice landing with bathrooms. Make sure you walk down to the landing and eyeball the surroundings as there is a minor chance you can miss the landing (more on this later). This final section of the Lemonweir is unique because it is the final section/delta and it has a lot of sloughs, side channels and islands. So, during high water, you do have some strategic choices to make as far as navigation goes. Generally speaking, you’ll probably want to follow the channel with the most volume and is going the fastest.
Put in by a snowmobile bridge that you can’t drive over (you’ll have to cross on a separate bridge and double back from the north side…see map). Decent put-in (no bathrooms). This is a pleasant section of the river and there was plenty of evidence of wildlife, especially birds and clams. The consistency of this segment is mostly sand, which is very nice (relative to muddy bottoms and banks of other rivers). We went at the height of the 2012 drought and there were some shallow areas that required ‘hopping’ and even getting out. Nothing too bad though…it’s not a big deal to get out when the water is not too dirty and you have sand to step on. Ironically, the upper sections of the river seem deeper…this is probably because this section loses a lot of volume due to the side-channels. Indeed, from Google maps, the channel breaks out in a tree-like format and it is somewhat possible to get lost. Just follow the biggest/fastest channel and you’ll be fine. While there are side-choices that may be fun to explore, if you deviate from the main channel you may miss one of the three river-side rock formations on this segment of the river.
You’ll probably see other boaters on the river as this is a moderately popular paddling section. Unfortunately paddlers aren’t the only people on the river. About half way into out trip, we heard a large number of gunshots about a mile away. These kept continuing, and as we got close, we saw a large group of native rednecks shooting styrofoam cups in the river with their pistols. Not sure if this was legal…if for no other reason than they were polluting the river. That was unfortunate, but the rest of the trip was quite nice. As you progress through the river the main channel starts to open up and you’ll get more islands/paths that can make for fun exploring. As you wind through the main section, you’ll probably end up wondering where the boat landing is. It is somewhat hidden and tucked back to your right. What you need to do is follow the third and largest rock formation (see pictures). This formation is unofficially the start of the Dells and in fact was going to be the northern border of Wisconsin Dells National Park, which was a plan that got scrapped in the 30’s. As you get closer to the rock formation, you’ll see the landing on your right and slightly back. We intentionally over-shot the landing so we could go out on the Wisconsin River (nice sandbar right there). By the last rock formation on the Lemonweir and at the mouth, the current is VERY strong. While it is tempting to get close to check out the cliffs and all the cliff swallow nests…you’ll probably only want to do so with your life jacket on and to be careful that your boat doesn’t get pinned by the rocks.
Alternative Lemonweir Trips:
- Upstream of River Road: The headwaters suffer from log jams, artificial channelling and cranberry bogs. Am not sure there are practical segments up here
- From River Road to 6th Ave: 5.4 miles. Probably doable but there are a lot of log jams.
- 6th Ave to 37th Street Landing: 4.4 miles. This is occasionally paddled but does have some log jams. Definitely a future trip.
- 37th Street Landing to New Lisbon: 6.16 miles. Reviewed here.
- New Lisbon Dam to Hwy 12/16 Shoulder: 7.9 miles. Nice prospect with the “Little Dells” rock outcrop…but some jams. Hwy 12/16 landing by the creek and roadside is speculative and not for certain.
- Hwy 12 to Mauston (Riverside Park): 3.87 miles. Mostly slow open flowage paddling.
- Mauston Dam to 19th Ave: 5 miles. One of the nicest stretches on the river. Reviewed here.
- 19th Ave to Hwy HH: 14 miles. Not as interest of a stretch with slow current. Reviewed here.
- Hwy HH to the Mouth: 4-5 miles. Good section with attractive rock outcrops. Reviewed here.