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Lemonweir River – Mauston

Date Paddled: May 25th, 2012
Put-in: Mauston Dam
Take-out: 19th Ave Landing
Distance: 5 Miles
Time: 3 Hours
Gradient: 0.9' per Mile
Water Level: Lemonweir River @ New Lisbon 240 CFS (good depth)

This is probably not one of the more well known rivers, but it is very nice never-the-less.  It empties into the Wisconsin River just north of the Dells rock formations.  The upper sections are absolutely not as popular as the lower sections.  Mike Svob does review one such section north of New Lisbon, but it is brief and he advises that surrounding sections have a lot of log jams.  Below the New Lisbon Dam, there is a section that runs through to Mauston, but it is a long stretch with no bridges.  While I haven’t paddled this section yet, there is supposedly a nice rock formation on the river on the stretch between New Lisbon and Mauston.  The locals are trying to promote the upper Lemonweir (even distributing brochures to Rutabaga) which may be a good sign that it is not as log jammed as Svob suggested.

Below the Mauston Dam and to the Wisconsin River there are no real log jams (although there are squeakers) and this section is quite popular with kayakers.  There are roughly three sections you can do downstream from the dam:  roughly a 5 mile section, a 10 mile section, and then another 5 mile section to the Wisconsin River.  You can, of course, combine sections or even camp on the sandbars (quite popular, as while the sandbars are not elaborate…they are adequate for camping).  I’ve done the first and third sections.  I’ll review the first section below and review the third section at a later time.

The first section has a decent put-in downstream from the dam in Mauston and on the north side of the river.  No bathrooms but good parking.  You’ll hit riffles right away (nothing serious) which is about all you’ll see for the entire river.  I did see evidence of a shuttle/rental service, so while I don’t know of any names off the top of my head, I’m sure if you require these services, they are available.  While again…the river is not spectacular, it is still very nice.  While there are rock formation up and downstream of this segment, there are none on this leg.  Current isn’t that strong and the banks are mostly woods.    On the downside, when I went, there were a LOT of mosquitoes.  I highly recommend either protective clothing or DEET free repellent such as the lemon eucalyptus brand that is supposedly quite effective now.  There were a lot of dragonflies on the river munching on the mosquitoes and, in fact, liked to hang around us because they knew we attracted the mosquitoes.  About halfway into the trip, there will be a fork around a massive island.  I believe you can go both ways…we went the north route with the main channel.  This island on both the upstream and downstream side is a good spot for camping because of the sandbars.

The take-out is a landing on the 19th Ave. bridge, which appears to be a former dam.  It is very nice, scenic, but does not have any bathrooms (although it does have one of the highest concentrations of mosquitoes I’ve ever experienced).  If it wasn’t for these pests, this would be a much higher rated segment.  No doubt this might have been a timing problem on my end, and others wouldn’t face the same plagues we did, so don’t let this scare you away.

Alternative Lemonweir Trips:

  • Upstream of River Road: The headwaters suffer from log jams, artificial channelling and cranberry bogs.  Am not sure there are practical segments up here
  • From River Road to 6th Ave: 5.4 miles.  Probably doable but there are a lot of log jams.
  • 6th Ave to 37th Street Landing: 4.4 miles.  This is occasionally paddled but does have some log jams.  Definitely a future trip.
  • 37th Street Landing to New Lisbon: 6.16 miles.  Reviewed here.
  • New Lisbon Dam to Hwy 12/16 Shoulder: 7.9 miles.  Nice prospect with the “Little Dells” rock outcrop…but some jams.  Hwy 12/16 landing by the creek and roadside is speculative and not for certain.
  • Hwy 12 to Mauston (Riverside Park): 3.87 miles.  Mostly slow open flowage paddling.
  • Mauston Dam to 19th Ave: 5 miles.  One of the nicest stretches on the river.  Reviewed here.
  • 19th Ave to Hwy HH: 14 miles.  Not as interest of a stretch with slow current.  Reviewed here.
  • Hwy HH to the Mouth: 4-5 miles.  Good section with attractive rock outcrops.  Reviewed here.


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