East Fork of the Black River

While not in the same class as the main branch, the East Fork is still a fun paddling river and features some of the best Class 2 rapids in the state.

Trip Reports

Steponik Road to Pray Road


Date Paddled: October 23rd, 2016
Distance: 4.6 miles
Time: 2 hours 24 minutes

A pleasant but lazy stretch little resembling the main branch of the Black River.  East Fork Falls and a unique wildlife experience kept things interesting though...

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Pray Road Bridge to Overguard Road Public Access


Date Paddled: September 14th, 2014
Distance: 7.1 Miles
Time: 3 hours 46 minutes

A pleasant central Wisconsin paddle with little signs of human civilization.  Enjoy oxymoronic slow riffley current with the highlight of the trip being large granite protrusions and boulder beds. Put-in: Good but hidey access area by Pray Road.  It will be on the northwest side of the bridge, with a solid pull-off area for the […]

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Overguard Road to East Fork Campground


Date Paddled: September 1st, 2018
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 4 hours 48 minutes (2 hours would be more typical)

The last, best, and most popular stretch of the East Fork.  A scenic wilderness trip with fun Class 1-2 rapids and attractive granite boulder gardens.

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Overview Map

Detailed Overview

Nearby Guages

Videos

Note, that the clip at 3:19 is not the East Fork of the Black River but rather the main branch of the Black. That particular shot shows the Canyon Rapids at 2100 CFS on the Neilsville Gauge.

Comments

Jul 11th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Appreciate all the in-depth information...it sounds like you can have a good time on this stretch at higher levels than what I did it. This stretch is terrific...and IMO one of the best beginner whitewater water trails in Wisconsin. Hopefully they fix that darn gauge...
Jul 11th, 2020 - Daniel Akin from Little Eau Plaine River
This was my fourth trip to the East Fork this month and each time it comes through. This river does not disappoint and holds its levels longer than most around the area. The backwaters stretch almost back to Pittsville and Lindsey in Wood County. Here are the levels we had: Monday, June 8 @ 893.0, Tuesday, June 16 @ 892.9, Wednesday, June 24, 893.9 (slightly high) and today, Tuesday, June 30 @ 892.7. It is actually better right at 893, rather than higher because some of the rapids get totally missed at these higher levels. The gauge doesn't work anymore at the East Fork Bridge so we have to use the visuals on the west side of the bridge. We also use the Black River Falls USGS and Neillsville USGS as guides as well, but they aren't really reliable to what is happening on the East Fork. Even at 892.7, the East Fork was at our lowest level of the four times, but we had no problems and no one got stuck in the rapids. We did have a few rock scrapes. It is just such a scenic and peaceful run, we love it so much. The only problem is the amount of driving it takes to get to the end (campground) to Overgaard Road and the amount of gravel roads. We wind up driving on 30 miles of gravel, so beware. We love the rapids right before the East Fork Bridge and near the lone house on the trip. They are Class One and loads of fun. We must be about 3/5 of the trip at the Bridge, there is still fun after the bridge with a couple good sections the last two miles. The last 1/2 mile is flat, but the takeout is wonderful. Stars 5, Put-in Overguard Road, Take-out East Fork Campground, Date 06/30/2020, Depth 892.7 (Estimated) at East Fork Bridge
Jun 29th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
The main gauge is out which is frustrating. Neillsville is a backup gauge...it's at 204 CFS now and falling. I did the rapids at 180 CFS which was low but doable and fun. I expect 170 CFS by the 4th...most of the river will be fine, but you might have to wade some of the rapids. Bring your aquatic shoes! As for time...figure 5 hours.
Jun 29th, 2020 - Keaton from Mississippi
Looking to paddle from Pray Road to the East Fork Campground this weekend (4th of July 2020). Does anyone know if it is currently runnable with 15' canoes, or is it to low? Estimated paddle time?
Jun 8th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks! The stretch you did was my favorite on the East Fork...very underrated.
Jun 8th, 2020 - Dan Akin from Yellow River. Eau Plaine
Great site for people who are interested in kayaking. Just went in the East Fork this morning for Overguard Road to Campground. What a great run it was today. Thanks so much for all the insight. This site is so helpful
Apr 9th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
That's very generous Todd, especially as the roads in that area are very poor for bike shuttling. Is there a public means by which users can contact you? Also, how much would you charge to do a shuttle? If you can provide this information, I can can include it each my East Fork write-ups.
Apr 9th, 2019 - Todd - on the east fork from East Fork just off east fork road
Provided I am around I would be willing to shuttle people who wish to paddle the east fork. I also could let people know if the river levels are runnable.
Sep 10th, 2017 - admin
Thanks Ryan for the heads up. Borek Road is marked as a landing in the book "A Canoeing Guide to Indian Head Rivers" page 49, but likely this was a mistake. If you know of any other available landings on the upper East Fork besides Steponik Road, feel free to let my readers know.
Sep 10th, 2017 - Ryan from Rock river
I have land off of Borek Rd and can tell you that there is no public access to the river without trespassing. The closest public access point to there is the next road to the west, which is Steponic Rd.

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

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