Baraboo River

While large muddy banks can be an eyesore, the Baraboo River is a pleasant paddle with some really nice stretches.  Highlights include many sandstone outcrops and fun rapids by the city of Baraboo.

Trip Reports

Schultz Park to Hwy 82


Date Paddled: May 23rd, 2020
Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: 3 hours 17 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes would be more typical)

An exploratory adventure on the far upper Baraboo.  Highlights included four outcrops, but deadfall was a nuisance and I did have to portage several times.

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Union Center to Wonewoc


Date Paddled: September 11th, 2011
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Time: 3 Hours

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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Wayside Park to Kalepp Road


Date Paddled: June 21st, 2020
Distance: 4.6 miles
Time: Expect 2 hours

Although muddy and weed-lined, this otherwise uninteresting section of the "Boo" is the location of three scenic sandstone outcrops, including one of the biggest on the entire river.

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Kalepp Road to N. Dutch Hollow Road


Date Paddled: May 16th, 2020
Distance: 5.3 miles
Time: 3 hours 33 minutes

This is an obscure section of the Baraboo River that has some nice outcrops and a terrific bike shuttle.  Unfortunately mud and downed trees were an eyesore.

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N. Dutch Hollow Road to N. River Road in La Valle


Date Paddled: July 25th, 2015
Distance: 3.84 Miles
Time: 4 hours 15 minutes (2 hours would be more typical)

A rarely paddled section of the Baraboo River that is quite pleasant.  Highlights include seven rock outcrops and some fun little rapids to end the trip.

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La Valle Public Ramp to Lake Redstone County Park


Date Paddled: August 5th, 2012
Distance: 4 Miles
Time:

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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Hwy 136 to North Freedom Park


Date Paddled: September 26th, 2020
Distance: 8.2 miles
Time: Expect 4 hours

This is one of the most scenic stretches on the entire Baraboo River.  Highlights include steep gorges, riverside boulders and scenic outcrops.

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Giese Park to Gander World


Date Paddled: July 9th, 2011
Distance: 3 miles
Time: ~1.5 hours

A popular add-on trip to the city of Baraboo section.  There are no rapids, but there it was still a pleasant section of the river with a few rock outcrops.

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Gander Outdoors to Glenville Landing


Date Paddled: June 30th, 2018
Distance: 4.9 miles
Time: 3 hours 19 minutes (2 hours would be more typical)

Of all Baraboo River segments this is my favorite.  The highlight was the rapids which are among the best and most fun for beginner whitewater paddlers in Southern Wisconsin.

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Wayside Park to Hwy U


Date Paddled: October 14th, 2015
Distance: 3.81 Miles
Time: 2 hours 33 minutes (2 hours would be more typical)

A return to the Baraboo River to check out a more obscure paddling segment.  Not elite with highway noise to contend with, but pleasant with no log jams and attractive wooded banks.

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Cty U Bridge to Waterfront Road Landing


Date Paddled: June 30th, 2013
Distance: 5 Miles
Time:

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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Overview Map

Detailed Overview

  • Nutmeg Road to Hwy PP:  6.2 miles.  Flows by the historic Elroy-Sparta Trail and is mostly open, but there are a few logjams.  This is a narrow small stretch that will need very high water to be runnable.  There are scenic outcrops on this stretch….maybe 3.
  • Hwy PP to 2nd Main Street:  1.6 miles.  Maybe 3 logjams.
  • 2nd Main Street to Franklin Street:  0.9  miles.  Maybe 1-2 logjams.  Trip starts at a scenic covered bridge and on Class 1 rapids.
  • Franklin Street to Hwy 82(South of Lincoln Street) 0.5 miles.  A good stretch that is mostly open and has maybe one outcrop.
  • Hwy 82(South of Lincoln Street) to Schultz Park:  0.6 miles.  Maybe 2 logjams.
  • Schultz Park to Hwy 82(South of Snyder Road)4.0 miles.
    • Schultz Park to Hwy 82(North of Lumsden Road) 0.6 miles.  One outcrop, one logjam portage and a few tight fits.
    • Hwy 82(North of Lumsden Road) to Hwy 82(South of Snyder Road) 3.4 miles.  Three outcrops, three significant logjams and several tight fits.  A section with good potential but needs cleanup work.
  • Hwy 82(South of Snyder Road) to Hwy W:  1.9 miles.  Maybe 2-3 jams…think this is doable though.
  • Hwy W to Hwy 82/Union Center:  1.3 miles.  Good prospect by the golf course with maybe 2 outcrops.  Maybe 1-2 logjams.
  • Hwy 82 to Hwy FF Landing/Wonewoc 7.1 miles.  A great section with one of the largest rock outcrops on the river.
  • Hwy FF Landing to Wayside Park:  2.9 miles.  There used to be a lot of logjams here.  I think it might be doable…maybe 2-3 major portages.
  • Wayside Park to Kalepp Road 4.5 miles.  An uninteresting part of the river with weedy, muddy banks.  But…there are three fantastic sandstone outcrops.
  • Kalepp Road to N. Dutch Hollow Road 5.3 miles.  One logjam portage with several “hoppers” and “duckers”.  There are some outcrops but most are recessed and away from the river.  Mud and downed trees are a bit unsightly, otherwise a pleasant paddle.
  • N. Dutch Hollow Road to La Valle 3.8 miles.  Second best section on the entire river with great rock outcrops.
  • From La Valle to Lake Redstone 3.6 miles.  One of the more underrated sections of the Boo, which I really liked.
  • Lake Redstone to Monument Park/Reedsburg:  9.0 miles.  Supposedly kind of boring, but the logjams should be cleared out.
  • Monument Park to South Park:  1.4 miles.  Spanning the length of Reedsburg, this should be a nice section mostly free of jams.
  • South Park to Golf Course Road:  4.7 miles.  Maybe 4-5 logjams.  Probably one too many.  Should be 1-2 small sandstone outcrops.  Golf Course Road might not be a good access.
  • Golf Course Road to Hwy 136(by Beth Road) 3.6 miles.  Maybe a few jams.  Likely mostly floodplain paddling and probably uninteresting.
  • Hwy 136(by Beth Road) to Hwy 136(by Ableman’s Gorge):  6.0 miles.  Maybe some outcrops at the end, but mostly uninteresting paddling I suspect.  Likely several serious logjams with difficult portages because of the high muddy banks.
  • Hwy 136(by Ableman’s Gorge) to North Freedom Boat Launch 8.2 miles.
    • Hwy 136(by Ableman’s Gorge) to Rock Springs Boat Launch/Firemen’s Park:  1.3 miles.  One of the most scenic parts of the entire Baraboo River.  Highlights include a steep gorge, riverside boulders and scenic outcrops.
    • Rock Springs Boat Launch to North Freedom Boat Launch:  7.1 miles.  This is a nice paddle, but with some downed trees to dodge and one to portage.  Highlights include historic railroad bridges, scenic outcrops, and seeing the railroad museum from the river.
  • North Freedom Boat Launch to Giese Park:  7.7 miles.  Kohlmeyer Road is a rough but doable alt access.  Ok stretch with a really nice outcrop.
  • Giese Park to Gander Outdoors 2.9 miles.  A pleasant but simple farm country paddle.  Highlights include the Skillet Creek bridge, the towering Hwy 12 bridge, and a rock outcrop upstream of Hwy 12.
  • Gander Outdoors to Glenville Landing 4.9 miles.  A fantastic stretch through the heart of Baraboo with many light rapids.
    • Gander Outdoors to Haskins Park:  0.6 miles.  A good stretch with some fantastic rapids upstream of Hwy 136.
    • Haskins Park to Maxwell-Potter Conservancy:  3.3 miles.  The best section on the entire river with many rapids.
    • Maxwell-Potter Conservancy to Glenville Park/Hwy 113:  1.1 miles.  A pleasant stretch, but lacking in rapids.
  • From Hwy 113 to Hwy W Landing:  5.1 miles.  An unreviewed wooded trip I liked many years ago, but since then logjams have probably become an issue.
  • From Hwy W Landing to Hwy 33:  3.5 miles.  An above average prospect.  On my to-do list. 
  • Hwy 33 to Wayside Park:  8.0 miles.  A stretch I’m curious about.
  • Wayside Park to Hwy U:  3.9 miles.  Simple but pleasant short section flanked by busy interstates.
  • From Hwy U to the mouth:  5.3 miles.  The final leg running through floodplain forest.

Notable Baraboo River Tributaries:

  • West Branch of the Baraboo River:  For the most part, too many logjams, but the flowage by Hillsboro is navigable with scenic outcrops by the dam.
  • Dutch Hollow Lake:  A heavily developed lake and popular with locals.  Not as great as Lake Redstone but still nice.  Dutch Hollow Creek is likely too shallow to run, but it (and the bike trail) goes past a fantastic and huge exposed rock face.
  • Hemlock Slough:  A nice little lake paddle with many rock outcrops and attractive hemlocks.  
  • Little Baraboo River:  For the most part too many logjams.  However the small flowage by Cazenovia Memorial Park is navigable and there are small outcrops both below the dam and on the northwest corner of Lee Lake.
  • Lake RedstoneDefinitely a fun paddle with fantastic red rock formations, a swimming beach, and a spillway waterfall.
  • Big CreekYou can’t get too far upstream because of logjams, but there is a nice outcrop by Hwy F and this can be combined with a trip on the north side of Lake Redstone.
  • Narrows Creek:  There is a neat section by Weidman Memorial Park with boulders and light rapids with I believe nearby outcrops downstream.  Unfortunately there are likely too many logjams.  I did partly paddle a nice downstream portion from the mouth on the Baraboo before I hit a logjam and turned back.
  • Seeley Creek:
    • Hwy PF to Seeley Lane Boat Landing:  3.6 miles.  A mix of creek and flowage paddling.  Ok…maybe 2 logjams.
    • Seeley Lane Boat Landing to Freedom Road:  1.7 miles.  Probably too many logjams on this section.
    • Freedom Road to Mouth:  Neat stretch of the creek, but some logjams.
  • Skillet Creek:
    • From Gasser Road to Pewit’s Nest:  Gorgeous, but filled with logjams.
    • Pewit’s Nest:  Stunning scenery, but the ledges are likely too steep and narrow for kayaking.  Best experienced as a hike.
    • Pewit’s Nest to Hatchery Road:  A bit of nice geology, but likely small with several logjams.  Neither endpoint is a great access.
  • Rowley Creek A scenic creek, but shallow and with hostile locals.
  • Leech Creek:  From Hwy U to Tritz Road would be 2.5 miles.  Likely open and an easy paddle, but uninteresting because of the artificial channelization.
  • Long Lake:  A very slow creek that empties into the Boo close to the Wisconsin.  There could be serious logjams by the mouth, but the upper sections are plenty navigable and are paddled by locals.

Nearby Guages

Videos

Sorry about the bad quality.

Comments

Jun 13th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
It's a great paddle...one of my favorite Class 1 stretches in Southern Wisconsin. It's interesting that you got to paddle this at 600 CFS...it's really low now. 299 CFS and dropping...might not be that navigable for much of summer.
Jun 13th, 2021 - Collin Roland from Starkweather Creek
We (1 17' canoe and a kayak) paddled Geise Park to Glenville Landing on May 31 at about 600 CFS. It was a beautiful paddle! One of the lesser rapids was a little bumpy, would love to see this reach with more flow.
May 17th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
There has been an update on the logjam situation on the Baraboo River: "Starting last year and continuing this spring, the Friends of the Baraboo River hired Straight Up Logging to clear out jams in three sections of the river. Local canoe/kayak liveries had already cleared the stretches from Union Center to Wonewoc and from North Freedom to Baraboo in recent years. Last year and this, thanks to generous grants from Sauk County, the Friends of the Baraboo River was able to hire Straight Up Loggin' to clear passages through more jams in stretches previously not cleared. The work started last fall between Rock Springs and North Freedom and between the Sauk County line by Wonewoc to La Valle and was finished up this spring. Straight Up is also clearing from La Valle to Reedsburg this month, opening up new paddling opportunities on the Baraboo River. " https://friendsoftheboo.org/logjamreport
Aug 18th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the updates...that new take-out is nice. Hopefully the city creates a nice launch area by Slumberland so paddlers can start their trip above the Hwy 12 rapids.
Aug 18th, 2020 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
I did this trip on Wed 8/12/20 levels were approx 400 cfs and 8.25 ft so there were a few bumpy sections and more rocks to avoid, but the drops were fun and splashy. For those of you using google maps, the Gander Mountain is now closed and the building vacant, but there is a Slumberland in the same parking lot that comes up on the map. The city is doing a lot of work on the Maxwell-Potter Conservancy and Liston Park, just past the Manchester street bridge on river right . They have redone the buildings, put in bathrooms, and installed a dedicated launch. If you just want to do the rapids this is a great place to take out.
Jul 15th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
River update from 'Friends of the Baraboo River': "Loggers spent a week clearing 30+ logjams from LaValle upstream towards Wonewoc. The river is cleared almost to Kalepp Road. Clearing efforts have been temporarily suspended due to high water. The next section to be cleared will be from North Freedom to Rock Springs." https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheboo
Jul 15th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
River update from 'Friends of the Baraboo River': "Loggers spent a week clearing 30+ logjams from LaValle upstream towards Wonewoc. The river is cleared almost to Kalepp Road. Clearing efforts have been temporarily suspended due to high water. The next section to be cleared will be from North Freedom to Rock Springs." https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheboo
Nov 17th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I'm surprised the Baraboo has frozen this quickly already. It's definitely too bad to hear about those ice jams...those ice waterfalls sounds really cool though.
Nov 17th, 2019 - Eric G. from Wingra Creek
We attempted this section on 11/16 (620 CFS, 9.2 ft) and a relatively balmy 42 at put-in. with a bike shuttle using the 400 trail. The first mile or so was great but then we encountered an area that was completely covered with ice, we portaged around that but after another 1/4 mile encountered other area covered with ice, that continued as far as we could see, maybe 100 yds. We were less than half way, just a bit upstream from Hemlock Slough, so we decided to bale. Unfortunately, our car was parked at the end, so we decided the best option was to turn around and paddle upstream back to our bikes. Although not a successful trip per se, we still hand a wonderful time, beautiful rock outcroppings,ice waterfalls, many deer, 2 bald eagles, an otter, and even got hot thanks to having to paddle upstream. Certainly a trip I'll do again anytime of year, but not right after a prolonged cold snap
Jul 16th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
So you must have gone at 350 CFS about a 100 CFS lower than our trip. So it sounds navigable but not as ideal. I appreciate your comment and your referrals!
Jul 16th, 2018 - Daniel H. from Mirror Lake
Paddled this very trip on July 8th with a friend of mine. Water might have been a little low because of dry conditions so the hiding rocks made for a bit of a bumpy ride at times. We both got wet just past Broadway Street. Being from the area, I was excited to paddle the Boo again (try to go at least once a year). Saw the ATV signs on 113 and wondered how much they talk... Love to read your experiences nearly every week. I direct people to this website all the time!
Aug 20th, 2017 - admin
That is an excellent question as typically they clean out this very section. Honestly I'm not sure...I suspect (and hope) this logjam will be clear out some one regardless soon.
Aug 19th, 2017 - Gail from Wisconsin River
Any idea how the Lazy Beaver Canoe and Kayak Race turned out today? Thanks.
Aug 18th, 2017 - admin
Thanks Gail for the update. The Boo has really been hit hard by flooding this year and might be a mess.
Aug 18th, 2017 - Gail from Wisconsin River
Six of us put in today starting in LaValle. We had planned to go to Reedsburg. USGS 05405000 was 463 CFS and the gauge reported 8.6 ft. Fun rapids right off the bat and a few trees in the water downstream, but nothing we couldn't get past. At the railroad bridge about 2.5 miles into the paddle, however, there was a log jam with very steep, muddy banks on either side. We turned around and went back to the takeout about 100 yards below the Hwy. 58 bridge. A little disappointing that we didn't make it all the way to Reedsburg. We will try again from Co. V to Reedsburg soon.
Apr 26th, 2016 - admin
I'm surprised at the logjams. I would assume the local livery will clear them out here pretty soon. I do like this section of the Baraboo and hope to explore downstream sections as well.
Apr 26th, 2016 - smoucka from Yahara River
I just found this site and it seems like a fantastic resource. I look forward to exploring it more! Now the river- I initially read about this stretch in Mike Svob's "Paddling Southern Wisconsin". Canoed this section two weeks ago on a very warm and sunny spring day. Discharge according to USGS at Hwy X bridge was about 490 cfs. Water level was very manageable on this stretch with no depth issues. Plenty of logs just below the water that could pose more issues with lower water. Banks were very steep and rather tall with the water level that day. Ran into a number of log jams, two of which required portaging. It must have been before anyone had been through to clear it out. Lots of navigating required. We shuttled ourselves via bike on the state trail, super convenient. The access at highway 33 was less than ideal. We pulled into a clearing just west of the bridge on the south side of highway 33. It was very easy to miss and we only saw it after going past and turning around in the first business driveway then heading back east. Easy enough to pull in and unload the boat although had to drag it through some brush and the flood plain. Very pleasant paddle. Current kept us moving along but plenty of time to relax. The paddle took just under 3 hours with plenty of time spent floating. Couldn't believe how remote it felt considering Hwy 33 isn't far away but the flood plain keeps the development away. There is a small picnic site with a bench and fire ring directly across from Third Castle. I wish we'd had time to stop and relax. I will plan for a good 20-30 minute stop to enjoy the area next time around. Access at takeout in Wonewoc was very good. Canoe landing well marked on Hwy 33 and FF. Highly recommended!
May 28th, 2015 - admin
Thanks for the info about the Barabooo. Absolutely accept reviews which you can fill out here: https://www.wisconsinrivertrips.com/trip_submission.php As for searching water levels, my favorite link is this one: http://water.weather.gov/ahps/region.php?state=wi Just hover the mouse button over the guage on the map to get readings/history. The USGS has guages that AHPS doesn't though, so that is worth checking out too: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/rt
May 28th, 2015 - admin
Thanks the comment! Still want to that latter section...by chance do you know how bad the jams are from Lake Redstone to Reedsburg?
May 28th, 2015 - Noumenon72 from Baraboo River
Regarding jams, I paddled from Redstone to Reedsburg while the flow was at 280. There was one jam I had to portage, one or two where I climbed over a log, and I ran into one big sandbar and had to turn around and go on the deeper side. So I think that's just fine! It turns out that I love how river kayaking presents you with occasional obstacles that keep it from being an endless paddle and force you to find a way through. I've been working on paddling from Reedsburg to Baraboo, taking the boat out at the bridges. Do you allow others to submit reviews to the site? Of course, the flow went to over 800 two days ago, so it won't exactly be a representative trip. I got a video of several two-foot-long fish spawning or something in a flooded grassy meadow... By the way, thanks for that link to the river flow, I could not find anything so useful on Google. Can you give me a link to how I could search the site for other river levels, such as Token Creek? I couldn't figure out how.
May 27th, 2015 - Noumenon72 from Baraboo River
Nice review! Wish I'd found it before making the whole trip to Reedsburg and getting in at 9:30 at night.

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

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