Baraboo River – City Section
Date Paddled: July 9th, 2011
Put-in: Giese Park
Take-out: Glenville Landing
Distance: 8 Miles
Time: 4 Hours
Gradient: 3.7' per Mile (section 1) or 10' per Mile (section 2)
Water Level: Baraboo River @ Baraboo 495 CFS (good depth)
This 8 mile trip, finishing through the city of Baraboo, is probably the best and most popular section on the Baraboo River. The main trip starts at Giese Park, a county landing a couple miles west of the city of Baraboo. The trip starts at a moderate pace through farmland and a thin layer of trees. This frankly isn’t super exciting… As you approach Baraboo, you will see some rock outcroppings (close to the city of Baraboo) and will pass Skillet Creek flowing in from the south. Skillet Creek flows out of the very popular Pewitt’s Nest Natural Area and, while sections appear to be navigable, it appears to be too shallow to properly navigate (other’s claim you can…perhaps during high water).
Your first sign of the city of Baraboo will be the Highway 12 bridge, which you’ll be able to hear from far ahead. Just upstream of the bridge is a fishing path from the Gander Mountain parking lot…so if you’re willing to drag your kayak down a steep fishing path, you can shave a couple miles off your trip and not skip any rapids. The first rapids start at the bridge and, for the most part (as long as there isn’t flooding), are pretty safe and all class-1. This is a a good starter section if you’re looking to be introduced to rapids. After you cross under the bridge, you’ll see Haskin Park, which represents a third put-in option…more convenient than Gander Mountain though not a proper landing and you’ll skip some rapids up by the bridge. The Baraboo River winds though the city at a nice 10 ft. per mile clip (that’s fast…3 ft. per mile is a more normal flow). The city scenery isn’t too bad (nice bridges/parks/ and even Circus World border the river), but the main attraction is the safe, but fast, water and frequent riffles/rapids.
After the city winds down, the rapids die down as well and you’ll paddle a couple more miles through trees/light development and then reach the Glenville landing. It will be on your right, just past the 113 bridge. This is a proper canoe landing…but doesn’t have bathrooms (the current will quicken the trip, so you might not need bathrooms or you can make a pit-stop at one of Baraboo’s bordering parks).
Sadly, there is not shuttle service or rental service for this route, although the potential is there. There used to be a ‘Boo Canoe & Raft’ company that serviced the city of Baraboo and a lower section, but they are no longer in business. Editor’s update…there is now a new livery in North Freedom that services the city of Baraboo section. They can be reached at 1-608-737-1100 or at http://barabooriverrentals.com/.
Probably 75% of the river runs along the city of Baraboo and alongside a VERY nice bike trail (large trees, wide path, well paved, nice bridge crossing, and even goes under a bridge)…so if you’re into bike shuttles you can make this work, although it would require occasional street navigation and you would probably want to put in at Haskin’s Park (the other upstream put-ins would be difficult to bike to). The bike trail is nice enough that you can walk or bike after your trip even if not for a shuttle. The trail is longer than you think because it is not connected…so if you just keep following the streets along the river you’ll bump into it again. Technically, I think this is considered part of the Ice Age Trail.
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).