Wisconsin River Thru Paddling with Lloyd Hovorka

In June of 2021, Lloyd Hovorka paddled the entire length of the Wisconsin River from Lac Vieux Desert to Wyalusing.  Below is his blog and photos from the trip.

Day 1 – Lac Vieux Desert:

On my way. First 23 miles done. Only about 407 to go.

Day 2 – Eagle River:

Made it to the mile 47 campsite. Tomorrow the Rainbow Flowage.

Day 3 – Rainbow Flowage:

Only 17 miles today. Rainbow Flowage is no joke when it’s windy. Made it to the campsite at mile 64. Almost missed it as the sign is up in the woods a ways on the right side of the river. Not looking forward to the portage around Rhinelander Dam tomorrow.

Day 4 – Rhinelander Flowage:

Camping out on Estabrook Island just above the Rhinelander Dam. Figure I would rather do that portage first thing in the morning. At about mile 79.

Day 5 – Whirlpool Rapids:

Made it to the 100 mile mark. About punched a hole in my kayak in the Whirlpool Rapids.

Day 6 – Lake Alice:

Portaged over King’s Dam and paddled to SARA Park in Tomahawk. Fierce headwind all the way. Going to check out the Tomahawk nightlife tonight. Mile 107.

Day 7 – Tomahawk:

Day 7 is a day late. Portaged over Tomahawk, Grandmother and Grandfather Dams. Made it to Camp New Wood Park at mile 126. Supposed to be 7 sites there but had a no camping sign. Set up tent anyways. No internet service at all at mile 126.

Day 8 – Merrill:

Portaged Alexander and Merrill Dams today. Camping on an island just above Wausau. I figure about mile 148. Below Merrill is very shallow and rocky. I saw more kayakers today than I have the whole trip so far. So two dams and 22 miles today.

Day 9 – Brokaw:

Made it about a mile below Wausau Dam and set up camp early. Bad storm rolling in soon. Met more great people on the water today. I think I would like to do this again next year and concentrate on documenting campsites and portages.

Day 10 – Wausau:

Only a mile progress. Took out at Memorial Park below Wausau Dam. Met an old friend and we went musky fishing back upriver below Merrill Dam. Caught no fish. So I got fed, did laundry, drank some beers and had a place to crash. Will put in back at Memorial Park.

Day 12 – Mosinee:

Crossed Mosinee and Dubay dams today. Windy across Lake Dubay. Camping around mile 191.

Day 13 – Stevens Point:

Late start due to storms and early camp due to storms. Had to set up my tent right below the Stevens Point Dam at the put in. Barely got my tent up in time. At mile 203.

Day 14/15 – Biron:

Past Biron dam yesterday and set up camp at about mile 219. Still here today as it has been raining continuously. Back on the water tomorrow.

Day 16 – Wisconsin Rapids:

Portaged Rapids, Centralia and Port Edwards dams. Fun run after the Port Edwards Dam. Made it to Nekoosa and met old friends there. Camped in their backyard and will continue into the Petenwell Flowage tomorrow.

Day 17 – Nekoosa:

On an island about mile 237. Just north of the Petenwell Flowage. Going to try for a super early start to try and beat the wind. Got a feeling it’s going to be rough out there.

Day 18 – Rain Day:

Rain all morning and a couple storms this afternoon. Glad I waited an extra day to start crossing Petenwell. Supposed to be nice out tomorrow.

Day 19 – Petenwell Lake:

Made it across Petenwell and half of Castle Rock. Camping at Michael’s Landing. I am ready for a bar tonight. At mile 158.

Day 20 – Castle Rock Lake:

Finished crossing Castle Rock Lake at set up camp on my family’s river property at mile 272. Only two dams left. Fireworks tomorrow at Point Bluff.

Day 21-24 – Point Bluff:

Holed up at the Point Bluff Camping Resort for a few days of bands, fireworks and partying. Back on the water tomorrow.

Day 25 – Lemonweir River Area:

Escaped from Point Bluff Camping Resort and set up camp a few miles downriver. More storms rolling in. Shoot through the Dells tomorrow.

Day 26 – Rain Day:

Stayed another day on this island. Rained till almost three. Put that first stick in the water yesterday. Been watching it rise slow all day.

Day 27 – Wisconsin Dells:

Made it to about mile 300. Just above Pine Island by Portage. Kilbourne Dam made their path going down to the water a lot nicer than it used to be. Shooting for Lake Wisconsin tomorrow.

Day 28 – Portage:

Camping near Dekorra so should be right around mile 317. Hopped over the levee in Portage right by the Shell Station to resupply. Only one more dam.

Day 29 – Lake Wisconsin:

No more dams. Sauk dam was mile 335. Grabbed the first sandbar I came to past the bridge. Lake Wisconsin was comparable to the Rainbow Flowage. Windy as all hell. It’s all downriver from here.

Day 30 – Sauk City:

From Sauk City to Spring Green. They tell me that’s 28 miles. Had a good tailwind all day. My time on the river is getting short.

Day 31 – Spring Green:

My ride can’t make it till Thursday so I slowed my pace a little. Not sure exactly where I am at. Don’t think I made it to Muscodah yet.

Day 32 – Muscoda:

Started a few miles from Lone Rock and set up camp tonight a few miles downriver from Wauzeka. I believe I paddled about 40 miles today. I want to be in Wyalusing tomorrow by noon. I hear bad storms are rolling in then. So this is my last night on the river. Going to miss it. Wish me luck beating the weather tomorrow.

Day 33 – Wyalusing:

I made it but not before the storm. Spent some time on a sandbar making some cool new friends. Plus that storm came about an hour earlier than I had planned. Finished the last mile to Wyalusing in the rain, wind and lightning. I do not recommend doing that. Not unless you enjoy tempting fate like I do. Thanks to everyone for the support and help along the way.

2 Comments to “Wisconsin River Thru Paddling with Lloyd Hovorka”

  1. What were the longest and toughest portages you had? Have to make a couple of trips with all your gear? I might want to tackle this sometime. Thanks.

How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.

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