Eau Claire River – Marathon County

This is one of the best paddling rivers in Central Wisconsin.  Highlights include fun rapids, outcrops, boulder gardens and incredibly clear water.

Trip Reports

Bear Lake Road to Hwy 52


Date Paddled: August 17th, 2019
Distance: 3.6 miles
Time: 4 hours 12 minutes (for pictures)...90 minutes would be more typical)

One of central Wisconsin's best.  Dense boulder gardens, fun rapids, and clear water make this a fantastic paddle.

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Dells of the Eau Claire Park to Dells of the Eau Claire Park


Date Paddled: August 10th, 2013
Distance: 2.25 Miles
Time: 1 hour 46 minutes

The initial plan for this trip was to paddle the Eau Claire River either 7 miles above Eau Claire Dells County Park or 7 miles below.  (Note: Wisconsin has two Eau Claire rivers and this is the Wausau one…not the Chippewa River one.)  At this time of the year, the Eau Claire runs very low, […]

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Dells of the Eau Claire Park to Eau Claire River Road


Date Paddled: May 30th, 2016
Distance: 6.58 Miles
Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

One of the best paddling prospects in the state.  An amazing combination of intermediate rapids, dells and boulder gardens that ranks among my all time favorites.

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Edwin's Park to Ross Ave Launch


Date Paddled: October 2nd, 2016
Distance: 7.7 miles
Time: 4 hours 17 minutes

A surprisingly nice paddle through suburban Wausau with some fun rapids and boulder gardens.

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Clubhouse Road to Ross Road


Date Paddled: July 23rd, 2020
Distance: 7.7 miles
Time:

A guest review for the Eau Claire River by Wausau.

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Overview Map

Detailed Overview

  • Upstream of Ackley Road:  I just don't know much about this section (it is technically the East Branch).
  • Ackley/Spring Road to Hwy G 10.0 miles.  A good prospect with no major rapids.
  • Hwy G to Bear Lake Road:  3.0 miles.  A good prospect, but I don't believe there are rapids.
  • Bear Lake Road to Hwy 52 3.6 miles.  A great five star section with many boulder gardens and rapids (a few Class 2's and one Class 3).
  • Hwy 52 to Dells of the Eau Claire Park:  4.1 miles.  Really neat section with rapids and fantastic rock walls.  Rapids are less serious than the upstream leg, but do include a Class 2 I believe.
  • Dells of the Eau Claire Park to Hwy Y:  0.2 miles.  This section is called "The Ledges" and is typically Class 2, but is Class 3 in higher water.  The dam should be portaged river right (there are downed trees in the water to contend with below the dam).
  • Hwy Y to Hwy N: 6.6 miles.
    • Hwy Y to Hwy Z:  2.0 miles.  This starts with the famous Dells that should be portaged.  There is a poor portage path (right/north) but it is steep.  I recommend instead launching from either the south or north trails.  After the Dells is a great section which includes very scenic rock walls and Class 2 rapids.
    • Hwy Z to Hwy N:  4.6 miles.  More flatwater, but still many rapids, including a Class 3 by Lower Dells Island.  Badger Road is a steep but alternate access point. 
  • Hwy N to Clubhouse Road (aka Edwin's Park):  3.5 miles.  Pleasant, but I suspect this lacks any serious rapids.  Popular with locals and the liveries.
  • Edwin's Park to Ross Ave:  7.8 miles.
    • Edwin's Park to Hwy J:  4.1 miles.  A nice section with a few rapids and boulder gardens.  The Mountain-Bay State Trail pull-off is an alternate access option.
    • Hwy J to Ross Ave:  3.7 miles.  A great section with more rapids and boulder gardens.  
  • Ross Ave to Yellowbanks Park:  2.7 miles.  I don't know much about this section...there are some rapids.
  • Yellowbanks Park to Eau Claire River Conservancy:  2.7 miles.  A narrow wooded section.  Not sure if the Conservancy is accessible during low water.
  • Eau Claire River Conservancy to the Brooks & Ross Dam (aka Drott Street):  1.5 miles.  Probably boring flowage paddling.  After the dam you are on the Wisconsin River (and another flowage).

Nearby Guages

Videos

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Comments

Jul 8th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
A guest video of the Upper Eau Claire River has been posted. This contains valuable information concerning the stregth of the rapids between Bear Lake Rd and Hwy 52 at 460 CFS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeVzeTo0tsY&ab_channel=WisconsinRiverTrips
Jun 12th, 2016 - admin
Thanks for the comments! By chance how are is the geology this far north?
Jun 12th, 2016 - Jake from Plover river
I want to say thanks for running such a great website! I recently did a float on the upper Eau Claire. We put in on the Langland County property at the corner of Ackley road and Spring Rd (north of hwy 64). This is actually the east branch of the Eau Claire. It was a little brushy and over grown with some ducking and quick turns required, defiantly passable. After the section with some ducking it cleared up quickly and eventually merged with the west branch near the golf course. Once you get passed the golf course much of the river has a closed canopy of mature trees. Very wild feel with few houses and only a few scattered farm fields. Plenty of wildlife along the way including plenty of deer and 5 great sightings of bald eagles sitting on the river canopy, many herons as well. All of the bridges were easy to float under with no problem. No significant Rapids only one small portion of heavy riffles south of bear lake road. The water level was plenty high on June 11th but we did just have a torrential down pour on June 10 We road the river for 8 hours ~ 12 miles and took out on the spring brook on Nolan drive ( dnr public access point). We opted for this take out because of the public access and to avoid the ledges that are just to the south. This take out is less then ideal and requires water shoes as you have to walk a very short while <100 yards in the spring brook due to super swift current and deadfall trees. Overall an EXCELLENT float if your in the Antigo area

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

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