Bad Axe River
The Bad Axe River is a famous trout stream and tributary to the Mississippi River. Some of its legs are really good for paddling and highlights include clear water and fun rapids.
June 2nd, 2019
2 hours 43 minutes (100 minutes would be more typical)
Winding through the coulee region of southwest Wisconsin, the North Fork offers scenic driftless hills and numerous fun rapids--one of the fastest rivers I've ever paddled. Read More...
September 19th, 2020
Expect 2 hours
A super scenic trout stream through "Coulee Country" with many fun rapids. Read More...
September 25th, 2022
Expect 60-90 minutes
While not very big or deep, the South Fork of the Bad Axe is one of the more scenic Driftless Area streams. Read More...
Note, for additional information on access points please see my overview map.
Main Branch/North Fork:
- Hwy B to Esofea County Park: 0.9 miles. Small stream that would need very high water. Attractive with many light rapids and steep hills. Maybe one logjam.
- Esofea Park to Helgeson Road: 1.1 miles. Very fast and rocky section with open banks. Small and requires very high water to be runnable.
- Helgeson Road to Hwy Y/Runge Hollow Dam: 3.0 miles. Very tiny creek that runs through woods with perhaps a few logjams. This would include Runge Hollow Lake which is nice and the dam can be portaged. There is also a landing on the southeast side of the lake.
- Runge Hollow Dam to Springville Branch Confluence: 2.4 miles. Small and narrow. Maybe a few outcrops and 2-3 logjams.
- Springville Branch Confluence to Hwy O: 3.5 miles. River gains significant volume from the Springville Branch. This is a great leg with countless rapids and scenic driftless vistas.
- Hwy O to Goede Lane: 4.5 miles. Good prospect with more rapids, some pasture and what looks like a massive rice farm. Deadfall finally starts to encroach on the creek here…maybe two logjams. Goede Lane might not be the greatest access (see map for details).
- Goede Lane to Munyon Lane: 2.1 miles. Maybe 6-7 logjams. Mud banks start to grow in size.
- Munyon Lane to N. Ridge Road: 1.9 miles. Very open and likely logjam free.
- N. Ridge Road to Hwy 56: 1.8 miles. Maybe 4 logjams.
- Hwy 56 to Confluence of North and South Branches: 3.2 miles. Maybe 5-6 logjams.
- North/South Confluence to Henry Lane: 0.8 miles. River doubles in size after both branches join. Banks become muddier and taller. Maybe one logjam.
- Henry Lane to Amann Road: 1.6 miles. Maybe 3 logjams. A beat-up and messy section of woods.
- Amann Road to Mouth on Mississippi: 2.0 miles. Messy section frequently back-filled by the Mississippi. Maybe one logjam. There is a nice public landing directly on the mouth of the river.
- Upstream Of Sidie Hollow Lake: The South Fork splinters into a number of small creeks. These are likely too narrow and shallow to paddle unless done during a very high water event.
- Sidie Hollow Lake: The river is impounded by a large dam to create a lake. This can be a pleasant paddle. A launch is available on the east end.
- Lower Lake Road to Hwy NN1st: 4.6 miles. The river is here is very small and shallow…but open and scenic. This might be a viable paddle during a high water event.
- Hwy NN1st to Hwy N: 4.5 miles.
- Hwy NN1st to Hwy NN2nd: 1.7 miles. A fast, narrow and shallow creek that is very scenic with many rapids. However this stretch is likely too small for most paddlers to enjoy. There are 3-4 logjams and a handful of strainers in this stretch…most of which are easy portages.
- Hwy NN2nd to Hwy N: 2.8 miles. A terrific open stretch with many rapids. There are a some strainers but these can be avoided with good boat control (or by simply portaging).
- Hwy N to Anderson Ridge Road: 2.1 miles.
- Hwy N to S. Bad Axe Road: 1.5 miles. A scenic stretch with many light rapids. Mostly free of logjams, but there is a fence to portage (not difficult).
- S. Bad Axe Road to Anderson Ridge Road: 0.6 miles. A good stretch, but not as good as the prior two legs.
- Anderson Ridge Road to Oliver Road: 1.9 miles. Maybe 1-2 logjams. The river looks like it has been ditched somewhat by farmers.
- Oliver Road to Lockington Road: 1.0 mile. Maybe one logjam and kind of muddy. There appears to be significant flood damage along this corridor.
- Lockington Road to S. Bad Axe Road: 1.4 miles. Very open section likely free of logjams, but muddy with tall banks.
- S. Bad Axe Road to North/South Confluence: 1.5 miles. Maybe 3-4 logjams.
How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.