Paddling NHAL and the Manitowish River in Northern Wisconsin

When October 2015 finally arrived it meant that the 2nd annual fall paddle would be here soon. What we've settled on for the fall paddle each year is that it will be on a river system that is different than previous trips. This year that meant heading up to the Northern Highland - American Legion State Forest and the Manitowish River(click for map and detailed route info).

We put our kayaks in along highway 51 on the Manitowish River and spent the first 2 days paddling that. The Manitowish is a greater river for pretty much all age levels. There are a handful of riffley sections on an otherwise gentle river. The map shows quite a few campsites and because of the fall temps we had our pick of the lot.

The Manitowish eventually flows into the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. This flowage has numerous islands and backwaters to explore...its huge. Many of these islands have campsites on them and for every one we stayed at we padded 3 others just as good. Another check mark for fall paddling, there were only a handful of other folks out and plenty of room for everyone. 

I really like the fact that the Turtle Flambeau Flowage doesn't have much development on its banks. You certainly feel like you are "up north". From the dam that created the flowage the early parts of the Flambeau River flow another 113 river miles before joining the Chippewa River. If you are like our group, we prefer the peppy rapids, so something like the Flambeau is a great alternative. An account of a journey down both of these systems can be found here.

Tyler provided the entertainment on the eve of our trip.

As we set up vehicles at Murray's Landing, you could feel that the day was going to be goood.

And the 2nd Annual Fall Paddle is off!

After finding a spot for the night along the river and among the trees, we woke up to get some breakfast going over the fire.

The campsite was great, felt comfy.

We <3 Trees.

We made our way to the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and began the exploration.

Tyler is having fun at the next campsite on the flowage.

There are plenty of deadheads both submerged and like this one, sticking out among 100 others. The new growth is beautiful.

The final morning on the flowage was pretty much perfect.

A few miles across the lake to the take out.


Extended weekend paddle on the Namekagon River - September '14

If you paddle Wisconsin, you will eventually find your way to this classic Northwoods river. For 100 miles the Namekagon winds through northern forests, bogs, and meadows. With numerous campsites and landings you can make any size trip you'd like.

We used the map below.

We put in at the highway K landing early on Thursday morning. The scenery was great from the start, as the fall colors were really hitting a groove.

We didn't need to put in a ton of miles that first day, so much exploration occurred. We decided to check out Mckenzie creek first. Now the map is a bit tricky and there is conflicting information out there. The creek we explored was the little trib right before the leisure lake trail. Anyways here's what happened:

There were not any fish in the big open water area above the beaver dam, however the water was crystal clear and fun to explore.

After having a great first night around the campfire, we hit the water again for another day of adventures.

After utilizing a few different filter methods, we all agreed that on a river like the Namekagon a waterbottle filter would make the most sense. This short clip shows exactly what I mean.

At one point on the 3rd day, James was somewhere upstream and we were unsure of his location. Here is where we found him.

Earth caves on the Namekagon? sweet! Although we had some clouds on the last 2 days, the scenery was still amazing.

I would highly recommend any portion of this river to all! The rapids are very manageable and the campsites are well maintained. For help planning a trip or more information please send me an email: I'd love to hear about your trip and plans!

Chippewa River - Overnight kayak trip - 2 days, 33 miles

The Chippewa River drains one of Wisconsin's largest river basins and provides many opportunities for a paddle adventure. The lower 66 river miles are free flowing to the Mississippi and gather some spectacular scenery.

The put in for this trip was Hobb's boat landing in Eau Claire. Prior to launching, give the usgs gauge a look to get an idea of what level the flow is at. The link here is to the Durand gauge. From Hobb's the river meanders through the city before heading into a more rural setting. Along the way you can get a great look at the Silvermine Ski Jump near the Porterville boat landing. If you look closely you'll notice that the bike trail makes a few appearances on river left. This also gives one the option of doing a self-supported trip with a bike, rather than dropping vehicles. 13 miles from the start is the Caryville boat landing off highway H. This is a nice landing with lots of space and provides a great takeout for a day trip. On this occasion, I pressed on.

Camp spot for the night was 16 miles in to the journey on what is locally known as "Grassy Island". This is a small island on the upstream side of what is know as the braided section, an area of the Chippewa that splits into 2 relatively equal channels for the next few miles. The downstream side of the island has a nice sand bar that exists at medium flows and under, however at high flows likely ceases to exist. Your accommodations aren't much as this is undeveloped, however the old truck rim for a fire ring is a nice perk. 

Day 2 was 17 miles from Grassy Island to Hubbard's Landing off highway M. This takeout is a few river miles upstream of Durand, WI. For this specific paddle I was forced to take out here as it was late March and the river still was iced over in Durand. In this section the river gets a bit wider and starts acting like the large river that it is. The bike trail makes many appearances again, as well as the Dunnville bottoms where the Red Cedar Trail meets the Chippewa River Trail. For more info click the linked names and you'll be taken to a trail map.

One of my favorite parts of this section is the confluence of the Chip and the Red Cedar rivers. The "Green" Cedar as it has been nicknamed meets the dark tannin stained waters of the Chip and the contrast between the waters as they mix is quite perfect, if not a bit bizzare. 

The Chippewa River bike trail is not very far from this takeout and once again allows you the option of self-supporting with a bike if you so choose.

Here's a short video that shows what I found in late March in this section: