Pine River – Richland County

The Pine is often overlooked as a water trail for paddlers as it is sandwiched between the more popular Kickapoo, Baraboo, and Wisconsin Rivers.  But it is a very good paddling river on its own right with its highlight being some incredible sandstone outcrops.

Trip Reports

Quarry Drive to Shellington Drive


Date Paddled: May 14th, 2017
Distance: 4.8 Miles
Time: 3 hours 46 minutes (2.5 hours would be more typical)

Logjams and mud make for an underwhelming trip.  There are nice parts on the river though if you stick it out to the end.

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Hwy 80 to Hwy D


Date Paddled: April 2nd, 2021
Distance: 5.1 miles
Time: Expect 2-3 hours

This is one of the nicer paddles in the Driftless Area.  Trip highlights included 13 outcrops and paddling under a huge natural sandstone bridge.

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Pier Natural Bridge County Park to Hwy Aa Bridge


Date Paddled: July 23rd, 2011
Distance: 6 Miles (Dd) or 12 miles (Aa)
Time: 3 Hours (Dd) or 6 hours (Aa)

The Pine River is an interesting prospect located between the Kickapoo River and Baraboo River, perhaps overlooked by so many river reviewers because Wisconsin already has three other rivers named ‘Pine River’ (one of which is a popular paddling location). The cool thing about the Pine River is the rock formations that run along the […]

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Canoe Port 1 or Hwy AA to Canoe Port 4 or Hwy Q


Date Paddled: October 12th, 2013
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Time: 2.5 Hours

The Pine River is an under-rated prospect sandwiched between the Baraboo River and the Kickapoo River.  The lower third from Richland Center to the Wisconsin River gets occasional paddling traffic which is an ok prospect but it gets beat up by flooding.  The upper third starting from Rockbridge Park is a great prospect which I’ve […]

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Canoe Port 4 or Hwy Q to Hwy O


Date Paddled: August 2nd, 2015
Distance: 5.16 Miles
Time: 3 hours 55 minutes (2.5 hours would be more typical)

A pleasant, scenic driftless paddle that starts with some class 2 rapids and ends with a basketball game.

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Overview Map

Detailed Overview

Map Overview:

  • Click here to see a map of water trails and access options on the Pine (and its tributaries).

Quick Overview:

  • Yuba to Pier County Park:  Few paddle this stretch because of deadfall issues, but the river here is scenic and has some great outcrops.
  • Pier County Park to Hwy D:  The best and most popular part of the river.
  • Hwy D to AA:  An ok stretch with some outcrops, but not as many.
  • Hwy AA to Hwy O:  A nice stretch through the city of Richland Center.  There are no outcrops here, but there are fun Class 2 rapids by Seminary Street.
  • Hwy O to Mouth:  This was cleaned up years ago, but likely has a few deadfall issues now.  This is a mediocre paddle with no outcrops and isn't as interesting as upstream legs.

Detailed Overview:

  • Yuba to Hwy C:  2.3 miles.  Relatively open with some light rapids.  Maybe one logjam.
  • Hwy C to Beatty Dr:  0.4 miles.  Mostly open with maybe some outcrops.  Good prospect.
  • Beatty Dr to Quarry Dr:  1.6 miles.  Maybe 4-5 logjams.
  • Quarry Road to Shellington Rd4.8 miles.  Mediocre trip with some deadfall and mud, but some nice geology.
    • Quarry Road to Hwy C:  1.5 miles.  4 major logjams make this not worth it IMO.  There are two outcrops, but they aren't major.
    • Hwy C to Shellington Road:  3.3 miles.  Some snags, but no logjams.  Bit of a trout stream feel to it.  Two nice clusters of outcrops at the end.  An underrated paddle.
  • Shellington Rd to Hwy 80:  1.5 miles.  Maybe 5 major logjams, but there should be some great outcrops on this stretch.
  • Hwy 80 to Hwy I:  0.5 miles.  Likely an uninteresting stretch with maybe 3 logjams.
  • Hwy I to Hwy 80:  0.8 miles.  Not a great stretch with maybe 2 serious logjams.
  • Hwy 80 to Hwy D:  5.1 miles.
    • Hwy 80 to Pier County Park:  1.4 miles.  Two great outcrops, but also a number of snags on this stretch (none that I had to portage).
    • Pier County Park to Hwy D:  3.7 miles.  11 outcrops on this stretch makes this the best leg on the Pine.  The highlight is Pier County Park.
  • Hwy D to Hwy AA:  6.9 miles.
    • Hwy D to Hwy 80/SR:  2.3 miles.  Roughly 3 outcrops on this leg.
    • Hwy 80/SR to Hwy AA:  4.6 miles.  Trying to remember…I believe there are 1-2 nice outcrops on this leg.
  • Hwy AA to Hwy Q:  5.4 miles.
    • Hwy AA to Industrial Dr:  2.7 miles.  Nice open section with views of the hills.
    • Industrial Dr to Krouskop Park:  1.7 miles.  More tree cover.  Some submerged logs to dodge.
    • Krouskop Park to Hwy Q:  1.0 miles.  Great section with cool bridges, class 2 rapids and hilly scenery.
  • Hwy Q to Hwy O:  5.5 miles. 
    • Hwy Q to Bohman Dr:  2.3 miles.  A nice section.
    • Bohman Dr to Hwy O:  3.2 miles.  Mostly open with some cornfields.  Not as nice as the previous sections.
  • Hwy O to Twin Bluffs:  4.8 miles.  Mediocre prospect.
  • Twin Bluffs to Gotham (mouth on Wisconsin River):  9.6 miles. Mostly floodplain paddling so not as interesting, but still ok.

Noteworthy Tributaries:

  • Willow Creek:  The best of the Pine River tributaries with fantastic "cake-shaped" outcrops.
  • Melancthon Creek:  An incredibly scenic creek that can only be done in high water.  There are two tunnels that you can paddle through.  Sadly there were a few annoying logjams on this stretch when I did it in 2017.  Hopefully they've been cleared up by now or will be in the future.
  • Hawkins Creek:  This is a speculative prospect I will likely do in the future.  It has many scenic outcrops, but also a fair degree of logjams, fences, and can only done in high water.
  • Pine River - West Branch:  This is one of the weaker tributaries.  A lack of outcrops and likely fences/logjams make this somewhat unappetizing, but I might try to explore the more open sections in the future.

Nearby Guages

Videos

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Comments

Oct 26th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
350 is really high! It's good to hear there were no major logjams...the Pine has taken a beating these past few years.
Oct 25th, 2019 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
I did the section you recommended, from Krouskop Park to Bohmann, on Fri 10/25/19 as a quick after work paddle. Levels were high (Approx 350 CFS on Kickapoo gauge) so the trip took just over an hour, even with a few stops for photos. At this level the rapids in town were easy, fun, and wet. I got a couple of good lap fulls of water (guess I should've worn my spray skirt) but still had a blast. There were a few trees and logs to avoid but no complete blockages. The put-in at Krouskop is great, just set your kayak on it, climb in, a little pull, and slide down the ramp into the river. I bypassed the designated take-out at Bohmann Rd (Port 5) and took out at 100 yds down river at the bridge. There is a small cleft in the bank, on river left just upstream of the bridge. There is enough room for a couple of cars on each side of the bridge
Jul 16th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Sometimes moments of serendipity happen like that on paddle trips... Glad you had a nice trip...returning to the upper Pine is certainly on my todo list.
Jul 14th, 2019 - Eric G from Wingra Creek
I did the section from Rockbridge to AA on 7/11/19. Mark and his gang from Pine River Paddle have been doing bunch of work and the river is open all the way to AA (and I think to Richland Center?) The scenery was fantastic with numerous massive sandstone rock outcroppings along the way. Putting in at the far end of the park and paddling upriver through the tunnel and back was great way to kick of a great trip. A nice current, and constantly changing scenery made for a truly enjoyable trip. I had planned on the trip taking about 4 hrs and had arrange a shuttle from Mark, but I arrived at the take-out after only 2 1/2 hrs. Just as I was getting my phone out of my dry bag to call him, Mark shows up saying he had a feeling that someone was here needing a shuttle..Hmmm...the River Gods smiling down on me yet again.
Jul 5th, 2016 - admin
Thanks for the comment! Yeah, the Pine is a great river but it does have water quality issues. Hopefully the DNR works to clean this up in the future.
Jul 5th, 2016 - Lynn Brady from Peshtigo River
We just returned from this float - RockBridge to AA. Awesome trip July 3rd, 2016 - we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Water level was good, obstacles in the river had been cleared to allow passage. Our party consisted of two fifty something years olds - that are relatively experienced on the water, and two thirty year olds that are of the adventurous sort. There were enough twists and turns around obstacles to keep the younger fellas interested, and the current was forgiving enough that navigational mistakes could be overcome. Beautiful scenery, limestone formations, flora and fauna. Downside is the farm run-off. The water is filthy, with chunks of cow feces observed floating by. I wouldn't recommend attempting this trip with any kind of open wound or sore. It must be noted that the folks responsible for clearing tangles and blockages on the river have done an exemplary job! Without their hard work, this river would be virtually impassable. Hats off to the folks at Pine River Paddle and anyone else who has committed to this endeavor!
Feb 20th, 2015 - admin
Thanks for the comment!
Feb 19th, 2015 - Peggy Timmerman from Pine River
We own property along the Pine and regularly paddle (kayak, SUP and canoe) from the Hwy 60 bridge by Gotham down to the WI river and back. This section is mostly wooded and has a lot of birds, though not great views. A very pleasant paddle. However, from Twin Bluffs down to the WI river has never been cleaned up and is full of snags and strainers, which can be tricky especially with a longer boat.
May 28th, 2013 - admin
Thanks for the feedback! If you ever start a livery on the Pine, let me know as I can help get your organization listed on a number of Wisconsin area travel resources. Would be super if you could get a landing at Dd IMO. Any chance you can provide an update on the current status of the Pine, logjam-wise?
May 28th, 2013 - mark mccauley
Great job on this site!!! My friends and i have been cleaning up the Pine River from Rockbridge down. We may start a rental at Rockbridge.

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

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