Clam River – South Fork, Burnikel Road to Soderberg Bridge/South Fork Bridge

This portion of river is very wild – expect to climb over many trees on it, and duck under many others. It may not be the right paddle for everyone. The water level will determine how much climbing you have to do. My most recent paddle had the water level at least a foot higher than normal for July and you had to climb over many trees that you could otherwise go under. The high banks make it hard to get out and walk around the downed trees. The recent storm also took down three new silver maple trees towards the end of the trip, creating more challenges. When the water is lower, the limber can duck under most of the logs down.

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The South Fork is very circuitous and there are a few sections that weave around islands. I did hear a muskrat go into the water. The area is mostly a silver maple floodplain.

This section can be found in Canoeing the Wild Rivers of Northwest Wisconsin. The road maps in the book do not suffice, so I would suggest a gazetteer to get you there.

 

(Paddled July 13, 2016 and August 7, 2015 – took about 2.5 hours in high floodwater. It is about 2 miles.)

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Namekagon River, Earl to Trego

The paddle from Earl to Trego can be an enjoyable one on the right day.  On summer weekends, this section is filled with tubers outfitted by various businesses in the area.  Some of the tubers are inevitably drunk and loud.  I have floated this section with youth on weekdays and kayaked it weaving through tubers on a weekend.  I would much prefer a weekday when there is more solitude.  This section of river is well-visited and has campsites along it.

The first third of this section meanders a decent amount and has riffles.  There are also some random boulders in it.  After the first Highway 63 bridge, the river weaves around various sandbars and islands.  It can be very shallow here, but it isn’t too hard to find the main channel and continue downstream.  The river goes under Highway 63 again and is wider here, with solid riverbanks.

The river has many species along it, including pine, tag alder and cattails.  The Trego Nature Trail goes along the north side of the river for most of the stretch south of Highway 63.

The take-outs are obvious – Lakeside Road Landing (river right) and one right across from it near the Namekagon River Visitor Center (river left).  If you continue, there is a take-out at Trego Town Park (river right) or you can go under a very low walking bridge.  This will soon take you under US Highway 53 onto Trego Lake.

There is a great deal of information on this section of the river – Paddling Northern Wisconsin by Mike Svob, Canoeing the Wild Rivers of Northwest Wisconsin and https://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/upload/2014-Namekagon-Map2BW.pdf from the National Park Service are great resources.

(This section was most recently floated on July 11th, 2016, right before the flood.)

Namekagon River, Larsen Landing to Hayward Dam

This 11.5-mile stretch of the Namekagon provided a variety of experiences on the river as well as some spectacular wildlife viewing. Along the way, there were fast-moving riffles, flat moving water and flowages/lakes from past and present dams.

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Between Larsen Landing and Phipps Landing, the Namekagon is a swiftly flowing river with some riffles (and a little bit of scarping on the river bottom if you choose the wrong channel.)

At Phipps Landing, the current lows and you head into Phipps Flowage. This is a great area for wild rice gathering in the fall. At the end of the flowage, there is an old dam that paddlers can either portage (on river right) or go over. I always choose to ride over this fun, short drop.

For the next mile, there is some elevation change with more riffles that take you past Trout Run Landing. The river continues to run with current until Eagle’s Landing (not owned by the National Park Service.) Here, it slows and heads into Hayward Lake. Around here, you start to see homes, taking away from the pristine experience of the first 2/3 of the trip.

As you follow the lake, you make a right turn towards the water tower. Once relatively close to the water tower, you will see old posts from what looks like an old pier. If you follow them as if they were an arrow pointing the right way, you will get to the area of the lake where the dam is.

We took out at Hayward City Beach. When taking out there, be aware of a lot of poison ivy right near the motor boat landing. The dam is a little bit further up and can be portaged on the left.

On the day that we did this section of river, the water levels were declining. This section had blue flag iris, tag alder, white pine, horsetail and cattails, among many other plants too numerous to count. The coolest wildlife sighting that I saw was an osprey carrying a fish right over me! Other wildlife seen on my most recent trip was a mama and baby merganser and a muskrat.

 

This section was paddled on July 4, 2016 and took about 3.5 hours in a kayak. The book Canoeing the Wild Rivers of Northwestern Wisconsin has this section of the river in it and maps can be found from the National park Service at https://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/upload/NRMap-1Color.pdf.