La Crosse River
This is a mediocre river…not as good as neighboring Robinson Creek, the Black River, or the Kickapoo…but better than the Baraboo River or Lemonweir.
October 2nd, 2015
3 hours 45 minutes
An obscure paddling prospect but pleasant, with no log jams, great water clarity, good current and a clean sandy substrate. Read More...
August 17th, 2014
4 hours 47 minutes (atypical...expect 2-3 hours)
A pleasant five-mile paddle originating in the city of Sparta. The La Crosse River has a great recipe for paddlers in swift clear water, fun ledges, and is nestled in an attractive setting. Put-in: You will have a bevy of options for putting in, with almost contiguous green space access from Memorial Park to Fisherman’s […] Read More...
July 31st, 2016
2 hours 58 minutes (2 hours is more typical)
A mediocre trip on the La Crosse. A few fun rapids and a hidden sandstone coulee are the highlights. Read More...
May 14th, 2022
This was a nice trip on the La Crosse River just upstream from the city of La Crosse. The highlight of the trip were some terrific sandbanks. Read More...
August 15th, 2015
3 hours 10 minutes (2.5 hours would be more typical)
A visit to train and bluff country on the last section of the La Crosse River and then a side adventure on the mighty Mississippi. Read More...
- Fort McCoy - Upper Leg: The river looks nice here, but this goes through the heart of military training grounds so is not likely suitable for paddling.
- Fort McCoy - Lower Leg: (2.5 miles) This is technically part of a Federal Army base. You can navigate the river, but only if you register with the Fort McCoy Natural Resources department and follow their rules.
- Squaw Lake Dam to Buckley Ct: (1.4 miles) Very interesting prospect with clear water, one small waterfall, and a few nice Robinson Creek style cliffs.
- Buckley Ct to Hwy BB: (1.1 miles) An ok prospect.
- Hwy BB to Sparta: (7.1 miles)
- Hwy BB to Angelo Wayside: (5.3 miles) Clean sandy water with little development. Ends in a small flowage.
- Angelo Wayside to Sparta/Fisherman's Park: (3.3 miles) Not as interesting...but ok. River widens and has more of a messy feel with more hardwoods.
- Sparta to Hammer Road Bridge: (5.4 miles)
- Fisherman's Park to Ben Bikin Park: (0.4 miles) Nice open stretch though Sparta with some rocks.
- Ben Bikin Park to Amundson Park: (3.5 miles) The most popular and best section on the entire river. Very nice with clean water and good current.
- Amundson Park to Hammer Road: (1.5 miles) A more wooded stretch. Includes a fun ledge to kayak over.
- Hammer Road Bridge to Hwy J: (5.6 miles) Likely a good prospect...but I bet it isn't as nice as upstream sections.
- Hwy J to 17th Ave: (6.8 miles) Mediocre prospect. Upstream sections are likely nicer.
- 17th Ave to Neshonoc Lake Dam: (6.6 miles) Half the trip goes through a slow flowage. The lake is nice as far as lakes go...but I suspect this is a relatively weak section.
- Neshonoc Lake Dam to Veterans Memorial County Park: (4.2 miles) An ok paddle with some fun ledges and a nice box canyon.
- Veterans Memorial County Park to Holiday Heights Launch: (8.4 miles)
- Veterans Memorial County Park to N. Kinney Coulee Road/I90 Bridge: (2.6 miles) A mediocre stretch with some sandbars and Class 1 rapids under I90, but mostly generic eroded banks that have been heavily straightened by the railroad. Road noise here is pretty loud.
- N. Kinney Coulee Road to Holiday Heights Launch: (5.8 miles) A good leg. Features include fast current, some sandbars, mostly open banks with some nice bluff vistas, and a few really nice sandbanks. Be mindful of strainers in fast current.
- Holiday Heights Launch to Mouth on Mississippi: (6.9 miles)
- Holiday Heights Launch to Hwy B/Earl's Landing: (2.2 miles) A more wooded stretch with mediocre floodplain trees. Train traffic is heavy in this area and chances are good you'll paddle under a moving train.
- Hwy B/Earl's Landing to Mouth/Riverside Park: (4.7 miles) This is a good leg. It's more open and has really nice views of the distant bluffs.
Checkout the video to see the put-in at the dam, all the ledges, the old mill, a nice water snake, the covered bridge, steep sand banks, the clear sandy water and more. At 6:00 you can really hear the Sand Mine.
How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.