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Baraboo River – La Valle

Date Paddled: August 5th, 2012
Put-in: La Valle Public Ramp
Take-out: Lake Redstone County Park
Distance: 4 Miles
Water Level: Baraboo River @ Baraboo 243 CFS (good depth)

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 the 400 bike trailhead is.  There are public restrooms at this park.  This section of the state is more known for the old 400 bike trail and you can do a bike shuttle for the route.  The downstream landing is probably only a half mile from the trail intersection on Hwy V, while the upstream landing is right next to the trailhead.

The put-in at La Valle is quite nice and you’ll be floating down a partially dammed section for a couple hundred feet.  They did remove the dam (mostly), but a small remnant remains which backs up the water a little and creates some nice little rapids.  The rapids are probably class II and shouldn’t be too bad unless the “Boo” is flooding.  Stay to the right…and you can scout out the rapids from the rocks on the right shore if you aren’t sure.  All in all, pretty safe and fun. 

After you leave the rapids you will enter a wooded section.  Normally there would probably be a lot of dead-fall in the area, but it tends to be cleaned out by the locals.  For the entire stretch, I never had to get out of my kayak to portage.    It probably doesn’t hurt to go after the annual ‘Lazy Beaver Canoe Race‘ which would ensure that the river is cleaned out.  The race itself is interesting in that it not only goes from La Valle to Lake Redstone…but ten more miles onto Reedsburg, which represents a hefty 14 mile trip.

Unlike certain downstream sections of the Baraboo (like between North Freedom and the city of Baraboo), there isn’t that much farm country in this area.  It’s mostly wooded banks with occasional bluffs–two of which are quite nice and are reminiscent somewhat of the upstream section by Wonewoc.  The landing will be on your left at the mouth of ‘Big Creek’/Lake Redstone and the Boo.  It’s very nice (although no bathrooms).  You can venture up Big Creek somewhat before you get stuck…it is quite clean and has lots of clams.  If you wade up the creek, you’ll bump into the Lake Redstone Dam (cool waterfall).  After you take out your boat, you might want to consider checking out Lake Redstone itself to the north.  There is a nice swimming beach and restrooms on the south side.  When there isn’t a lot of traffic on the lake, it’s a great paddle as well with lots of cool rock formations.  For more information check out my Lake Redstone Review.

You can extend the trip to Reedsburg, which I hope to do eventually…but this would increase the trip length from 4 miles to 14 miles…IMO it is more logical to split this section into two.  Reedsburg also has access to the 400 Trail, so this is another bike option if you would like to do a bike shuttle.

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).


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8 Comments to “Baraboo River – La Valle”

  1. Nice review! Wish I’d found it before making the whole trip to Reedsburg and getting in at 9:30 at night.

  2. 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.

  3. Thanks the comment! Still want to that latter section…by chance do you know how bad the jams are from Lake Redstone to Reedsburg?

  4. Thanks for the info about the Barabooo.

    Absolutely accept reviews which you can fill out here:

    As for searching water levels, my favorite link is this one:

    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:

  5. 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.

    1. Thanks Gail for the update. The Boo has really been hit hard by flooding this year and might be a mess.

    1. 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.

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

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