Black River

This is one of the best paddling rivers in the entire state of Wisconsin.  Highlights include huge boulder gardens, outcrops, root beer red water, and fantastic rapids.

Trip Reports

Wayside Park to Reese Ave

Date Paddled: August 22nd, 2022
Distance: 6.8 miles
Time: Expect 3-4 hours

This is a combo trip on the Popple and Upper Black Rivers.  While it started a little slow and uninteresting, it ended on a great note with a lot of fun whitewater.  By my count this trip included over 34 pitches of rapids!


Reese Ave to Twenty Six Rd

Date Paddled: June 5th, 2021
Distance: 5.2 miles
Time: Expect 2-3 hours

A great stretch on the Upper Black River featuring granite bedrock and scenic boulder gardens.  Long, quiet stretches are interrupted by 18 rapids, including four Class 2s and one Class 3.


Hwy H landing to Hill Road

Date Paddled: October 9th, 2016
Distance: 8.0 miles
Time: 4 hours 14 minutes

A wonderfully scenic trip on the Upper Black River with plenty of whitewater and attractive granite outcrops.


Hill Road to Opelt Ave Launch

Date Paddled: June 8th, 2019
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time: 6 hours 4 minutes (3 hours would be more typical)

One of my personal favorite sections of the Black River.  Highlights include stunning boulder gardens, rugged granite banks and fun whitewater.


Hwy 95 to West Arbutus County Ramp

Date Paddled: June 27th, 2020
Distance: 5.1 miles
Time: Expect 2 hours

Lake Arbutus is a busy lake which can have heavy boat traffic and challenging waves.  However, the Black River immediately preceding and following the lake is incredibly scenic.


West Clay School Road to Powerhouse Road Landing

Date Paddled: August 1st, 2020
Distance: 3.2 miles
Time: Expect 90 minutes

One of the best water trails in Wisconsin with spectacular scenery and top-notch rapids.


Powerhouse Landing to Halls Creek Landing

Date Paddled: July 23rd, 2017
Distance: 4.0 Miles
Time: 5 hours 7 minutes (without side adventures, 2 hours is more typical)

Perhaps the best section on the Black River featuring Class 1-2 rapids and scenic granite boulder gardens.


Halls Creek Landing to Black River Falls Dam Landing

Date Paddled: July 13th, 2013
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Time: 3 hours 23 minutes

There are a number of nice prospects in the Black River area, but for this trip we did a more obscure segment that is probably only say the 4th/5th best route…yet was still very nice.   You can kind of divide the Black River in two.  Paddling above the dam at Black River Falls and paddling […]


Black River Falls Dam to Mason's Landing

Date Paddled: September 4th, 2016
Distance: 4.7 miles
Time: 6 hours 29 minutes ( 2.5 hours is more typical)

An overlooked tweener section on the Black River offers rapids, sandbars, gravelbars, granitebars, sandstone outcrops, scenic creeks and more.


Masons Landing to Irving Landing

Date Paddled: July 27th, 2013
Distance: 9 Miles
Time: 7 hours (with lengthy breaks!)

This route starts 4 miles downstream of the Black River Falls dam at Mason’s landing and goes 9 miles to the Irving landing.  You can put in earlier (see map for options), but that would have made a long trip IMO.  You can also take out at the campground (see map), which is close to […]


Irving to Lost Falls Campground

Date Paddled: August 27th, 2023
Distance: 2.2 miles (+1.9 mile Roaring Creek side trip)
Time: Expect 1 hour

A surprise landing closure resulted in a shorter than expected trip.  This was a still a nice stretch with large sandbars, a few micro-waterfalls, one large sandbank, and an opportunity to explore nearby Roaring Creek which lives up to its namesake.


Melrose Landing to North Bend Landing

Date Paddled: July 28th, 2018
Distance: 10.1 miles
Time: 4 hours 47 minutes (canoers might take 6-8 hours)

A "Wisconsin River Junior" south of Black River Falls with fantastic sandbars, good livery services, and great camping options.  This is one of the better and more popular sections on the Lower Black.


Hwy 53 to Hwy 35 Landing

Date Paddled: September 8th, 2012
Distance: 8 Miles

While the Black River is one of the more popular rivers to paddle in Wisconsin, this downstream section close to the mouth is very rarely reviewed.  You can put in at a canoe landing located at Highway 93/53.  The landing is nice and has parking, but there are no bathrooms and it is a steep […]


Hwy 35 Main Landing to Lytle's Landing

Date Paddled: June 11th, 2023
Distance: 4.0 miles
Time: Expect 2 hours

The second to last stretch of the Black features some fantastic sandbars, but it can get very shallow.


Overview Map

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Detailed Overview

Nearby Guages


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Jan 11th, 2023 - Greg Hlavacka from LaCrosse
Yes, you take out north of Hwy 10 and east of the river, must carry Kayak about 50 yards on trail through the woods to a small parking lot.
Jun 8th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Yes...I see fishermen fishing from the bank there and there is a parking lot on the east shore. I've also heard of kayakers using this access. Only downside is it is a longer hike.
Jun 7th, 2022 - Jeff Hlavacka from Fond du Lac
Christie trip of black river - can u take out at HWY 10?
Jun 30th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
It would be doable...but I wouldn't do the river when it is high as a sit-on will lack the maneuverability to get through the bigger rapids.
Jun 30th, 2021 - Robert Putrich from Joliet, IL
Love the Black River. Have been fishing it on and off over the last 16 years or so. How do you think a SOT would do on this stretch of the river? Thanks!!
Jun 13th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the kind words! The Lower Black after being high all these years is on pace to be pretty low this summer...this should be perfect sandbar camping season.
Jun 13th, 2021 - Vicki Lynn Ramsay from Kickapoo River
Thank you for such a descriptive and thorough report of the river trips you took! What a joy to read and help me remember my countless trips on the Black River that are now a bit of a blur. Heading out today to do the Melrose to North Bend section, camping on a sandbar somewhere. Your information was so helpful in planning. Loved your pictures and video too! Nice work.
Jul 31st, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Good idea! As for the Black, this is a great section and a great paddle.
Jul 31st, 2020 - Gary Kutzler from Rock river
Definitely on my list. Beautiful area. There are quite a few Amish and Mennonite communities up there, I see signs on the cork-board in some of their stores for rides as some need rides to doc appointments etc.. This could be a good shuttle option.

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

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