Bridge/make-shift landing at Union Center

Actually clams this far upstream!

Third Castle


Start of Wonewoc

Main take-out…nice landing

Little past the landing are some cool rocks

Landing downstream of wonewoc…too many log jams though.

Old 400 Trail

Artesian well? Don’t know if it is safe.

Heading home

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Baraboo River – Wonewoc

Date Paddled: September 11th, 2011
Put-in: Union Center - Hwy 33 Bridge
Take-out: Wonewoc - County Rd FF
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Time: 3 Hours
Gradient: 2.7' per Mile
Water Level: Kickapoo River @ Ontario 63 CFS (good depth)

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 regularly so should be free of debris. It’s a little muddy, but MUCH better than the lower Baraboo.  No rapids…and current is moderate (probably 3 ft. a mile). The West Baraboo branch joins the Baraboo shortly after Union Center, but looks too tight to navigate (could be wrong).  The trip is about 4 miles and is easy to do.  Navigating past Wonewoc isn’t recommended because of all the debris.  The highlight of this trip is Third Castle, which is a massive rock formation hugging the Baraboo River about a mile upstream from Wonewoc.  Very little traffic, so you’ll probably have the river to yourself.  The other noteworthy element is the Old 400 bike trail, which follows this section.  Some will bike upstream and kayak downstream.

Alternate Baraboo River Trips:

There are a lot of paddling options on the Baraboo.  For a visual overview see my overview map.

  • Upstream of Union Center:  The Boo splits into the west branch and main branch.  They seem interesting up to Elroy (or Hillsboro) and have enough water to run, but I suspect jams are an issue.
  • Union Center to Wonewoc:  6.2 miles.  A great section with the largest rock outcrop on the river (reviewed here).
  • Wonewoc to Strawbridge Road:  ~3 miles.  I don’t know much about.
  • Strawbridge Road to N. Dutch Hollow Road: ~9 miles.  Probably pleasant but there will be a few jams.
  • N. Dutch Hollow Road to La Valle:  3.8 miles. Second best section on the entire river with great rock outcrops (reviewed here).
  • From La Valle to Lake Redstone:  4 miles. One of the more underrated sections of the Boo, which I really liked (reviewed here).
  • Lake Redstone:  Definitely a fun paddle as well with fantastic red rock formations, a swimming beach and a spillway waterfall (reviewed here).
  • Lake Redstone to Reedsburg:  ~10 miles.  Supposedly kind of boring, but the log jams should be cleared out.
  • Reedsburg to Rock Springs:  14.8 miles.  Good potential but serious log jams are likely.  There is a cool canyon to paddle though by Rock Springs.
  • Rock Springs to North Freedom:  ~7 miles, but there are some jams here (not sure how many).  Seems like a nice paddle, with rock outcrops halfway into the trip.
  • North Freedom to Hatchery Road:  ~7 miles that should be pretty log jam free and is on my to-do list.
  • Hatchery Road to Hwy 113:  8 miles.  There are many fun rapids though the city of Baraboo making this a great trip (reviewed here).  
  • From Hwy 113 to Hwy W Landing:  4.9 miles.  An unreviewed wooded trip I liked many years ago, but since then log jams have probably become an issue.
  • From Hwy W Landing to Hwy 33:  3.56 miles.  On my to-do list. 
  • From the first Hwy 33 bridge to the second Hwy 33 bridge (by Cascade Mountain): 8 miles.  A stretch I’m curious about.
  • From the Cascade Mountain wayside to Hwy U:  Simple but pleasant short section flanked by busy interstates (reviewed here).
  • From Hwy U to the mouth:  5 miles.  The final leg running through floodplain forest (reviewed here).



Sorry about the bad quality.


2 Comments to “Baraboo River – Wonewoc”

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

How did your trip turn out? Questions? Comments? Or just say hi.

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