wisconsin paddle

Paddling the Eau Claire River (Chippewa River tributary one)

There are many options for paddles down the Eau Claire river near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. One of my personal favorites is the urban run from the base of the Altoona Dam to Hobb's boat landing or further to Porterville. Here is a video from a September 2016 high water run down the Soo-Line rapid, which normally is a pretty tame I-II.

Big Falls is a few miles above Lake Altoona and takes up all of a huge corner on the river. There is an island that splits the falls into 2 unique drops. 

This picture was taken within the Eau Claire city limits. The lower Eau Claire runs 3.3 miles from just below Altoona Dam to the confluence with the Chippewa River. This section is arguably the most scenic and certainly the most peppy.

The Eau Claire River is a sandy river, which is a big contrast to the Chippewa which is much more rocky. This can be forgiving to your boats at lower water levels.

Another shot of the Eau Claire river from within city limits. The river valley really lights up at sunrise.

Big Falls.

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: