Montello River – 11th Road
Date Paddled: May 1st, 2016
Put-in: 11th Road
Take-out: Lake Montello Ramp (Lake Street)
Distance: 3.74 Miles
Time: One hour 56 minutes
Gradient: 5.3' per mile
Water Level: 10 Mile Creek @ Nekoosa (not accurate) 5.33' or 104 CFS
The Montello River IS a nice river. It really is. But this section doesn’t have too much going for it. The weather was overcast and horrible for photography, so I didn’t want to use up a better prospect (hence the decision to do a “B Prospect”).
The best part of the trip was the start. The first two miles traverse though an attractive wooded section reminding me very much of the Lower Mecan. The trip starts on a good note at “three stars” for its clear water, nice sand and overhanging tree canopies. The shade encourages moss growth which was very nice. One clump of mosses had a seep running through it and into the river which was a neat spectacle.
The trip deteriorates to two stars as the flowage kicks in which slows the current and widens the river.
The Montello River is dammed at the city of Montello to create a sizable (for a small river) flowage called Lake Montello. To get to a landing will require at least a mile and a half of paddling which is always less interesting then river paddling. This last section gets only one star, hence the two star average derived from the three parts of this trip.
Don’t get me wrong…this isn’t a bad prospect and if you’re a local it is worth checking out. But for somebody living further away, there are better nearby prospects. Like the Mecan River, White River, the Montello stretch though the city, and the far upper reaches of the Montello River (cool!). I suspect the stretch from Ember Lane to 11th Road is very good. I also suspect the stretch from Harrisville to Emberlane would be fun (and have rapids if you launch correctly).
Bridge access at 11th Road. Not five star, but quite acceptable.
There is a public boat ramp located off Lake Street (west side of Lake Montello). Good landing, free, and a small area to park but no outhouse.
If you want to paddle 0.8 miles further on Lake Montello, there is a nice park “Wells Point Park” located by the graveyard off Barry Street. This is more secluded and peaceful (noteworthy if you’re leaving bikes and kayaks behind for a shuttle).
There actually is a livery service in Montello, but they primarily serve the Fox River. You can call Rendezvous Paddle & Sports at (608) 297-2444 to ask if they would service the Montello River.
Otherwise this is a super easy bike shuttle at only 1.93 miles. This is actually short enough to justify a walking shuttle if you’re not a biker.
Hazards and Log Jams:
There are no dangerous spots on this stretch. It is largely free of logjams, although there was one log I had to schooch over, but I thought this was easy.
Lake Montello can be very gusty, so pay heed to the forecast for Montello to avoid headwinds.
River Depth, Navigability and Current:
The river averages maybe 2-3′ deep and I doubt it ever gets too shallow to paddle. On the flip side I don’t think this river floods easily because of upstream wetlands and natural springs.
The current is average on the river section but non-existent on the flowage section.
Not much (it was a dreary, overcast day). Some geese, great blue herons, many turtles and a rare black squirrel. The highlights were really the nice mosses that were growing on the bankside and the large colony of skunk cabbage at the put-in.
Consider checking out “More Foods” after your trip which is a nice little natural foods grocery and cafe that has a good menu.
The fake waterfall in downtown Montello is worth checking out as is the historic lock on the Fox River and adjacent dam (which creates Buffalo Lake). More on these from my previous review of the Fox River at Montello.
Montello River Overview:
- Headwaters to 1st Ave: (1.25 miles) Hiking possibility only. In theory, there should be a spring located at the headwaters a mile upstream from 1st Ave.
- 1st Ave to Lawrence Lake – North Ramp: (2.91 miles) A very nice trip reviewed here.
- Lawrence Lake – North Ramp to Westfield: (4.8 miles) This will have some down trees, but I suspect it might be tolerable and appears to be an interesting prospect. Dam access does not appear good, so you’ll probably want to portage it and put in above the dam at either Lawrence Lake launch. There is a portage path around the dam but it is rocky. You can probably take out in Westfield by the Supervalu or the bank.
- Westfield to Pioneer Memorial Park: (1.08 miles) Seems like a nice town paddle, but jams might be an issue. You would have to portage the Westfield dam.
- Pioneer Memorial Park to Hwy E (by Maynard Dr.): (5.48 miles) I suspect the jams are too much here but am not sure.
- Hwy E to 10th Lane: (1.45 miles) The put-in is too close to a house for comfort. This section should be mostly clear with, I believe, the only jam being the one you’ll see from the Hwy E bridge.
- 10th Lane to Hwy E: (0.7 miles) Nice open marsh paddle. Good access at both put-in and take-out.
- Hwy E to the Harris Pond Dam: (1.69 miles) A boring flowage. There are no trespassing signs near the dam, but think there is a spot to park here.
- Harris Pond Dam to Hwy J: (0.25 miles) Think the parking is better at the take-out. There are cool rapids between the two bridges in this short stretch.
- Hwy J to Ember Lane: (4.9 miles) A good prospect. Last year, many of the logjams on this section were cleared out by Timothy Bauer, which is very much appreciated. Tim is the author of “Canoeing & Kayaking South Central Wisconsin“.
- Ember Lane to 11th Road: (3.9 miles) Also a good prospect and also mostly cleared of jams by Tim. A few still remain though.
- 11th Road to Lake Montello (park on the south shore): (4.55 miles) A simple section with some lake paddling reviewed here.
- Montello Dam to the Fox River: (0.6 miles) A nice little urban stretch that I review here.