Wolf River – Irrigation Hole to Highway 64 (3 miles)

From time to time, I will deviate from NW WI and let you in on some other cool rivers where my travels have taken me!

The Wolf River is a fun whitewater river in Northeastern Wisconsin. I floated down the Wolf River for a relaxing afternoon. Two thirds of this section is flatwater. The other third of the river is Class I-II whitewater. One mile down the river, the rapids start. It is a steady descent with rocks to avoid though usually a clear path. The rapids continue around many turns. In Paddling Northern Wisconsin, Sherry Rapids is shown as an ‘Upper ‘and ‘Lower’ section, but it actually ran a half a mile without much of a break, no separate rapids to distinguish. There is an island at the bottom of Sherry Rapids, and soon after, Larzelere Rapids start. These rapids are not very long. It is a little less than a mile to the landing from the rapids.

There are many white cedar in this area. There are a decent amount of tubers on a nice weekend as well (with some drinking.)

Paddling Northern Wisconsin by Mike Svob has a great map of this section.

 

(Floated July 30th, 2016)

 

Rating:

Difficulty: 2

Do-it: 5

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Clam River, Ice House Bridge to Norway Point Landing (St. Croix River)

This part of the Clam River is lots of fun and moves quickly, despite the flowage on the map. The only thing that can ruin your trip, depending on the season, is the deer flies.It is about a 15 mile trip.

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At the put in, I went on the Northwest side of the bridge. There was a lot of poison ivy there. It looked like there were also options to put in on the Southwest and Southeast corners of the bridge. The first third of the trip winds through forests after the Ice House Bridge. As I mentioned, the deer flies were terrible. They buzzed around my head, sometimes landing to bite. I killed at least 10, if not 20 of them throughout the day.

image-2Eventually, the river opens up into a marshy area (with no deer flies!!) I found later when I could see the bridge, that this marsh is actually considered part of the flowage on the maps. The current slows down but is still moving. Once you come to what looks like a real lake, the flowage isn’t that much longer. It is almost cut in half by the Balcom Bridge, which you can see when you come around the corner out of the marsh.

image-3Continue past the bridge and soon the power dam is visible on river right. The portage around the dam is on river right and is signed to go around all of the dam equipment. It is not well-used, though I could tell a few people had been there recently. There is a steep climb down to the river at the end of the portage. Total, it’s probably about a quarter of a mile. This was the one place I encountered mosquitoes. The deer flies also returned here. Once back on the water, only the mosquitoes subsided. This last part of the Clam River was my favorite section of the day, as it was moving quickly again and had some grand white pines to paddle by.

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I could see the flood marks and dirt from two weeks earlier when the area got about 12 inches of rain. It was at least five feet above the current level. The Clam feeds into the St. Croix River at mile S109.3. There is a campsite immediately on the left when you enter the St. Croix. The nearest landing is less than a mile downstream on the right (MN). I opted to go to the closest WI landing. It was 4.5 river miles further, but 14 biking miles (on state roads) shorter.

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The St. Croix is much wider and has islands to go around. You can find a map of it https://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/upload/SCRMap-5Color.pdf The river is beautiful and has a very different character from the Clam. It is easy to navigate. On the Minnesota side (river right) is St. Croix State Park.

There are very few houses on the Clam Flowage, and on the river none at all. The houses were also well hidden, and you could find them only because there were boats and docks. The area had sandy soil with basswood, red and white pine, silver maple, jack pine, alder and white oak. The marsh had many rushes, arrowhead and lilypads. Wildlife that I saw included kingfisher, a fish that flipped out of the water, and 2 bald eagles, one of which was fishing on the St. Croix!

Resources you can use are the map above for the St. Croix River and Canoeing the Wild Rivers of Northwest Wisconsin. The portage around the dam is incorrect in the book.

(Paddled on July 26, 2016)

 

Ratings:

Difficulty 2/5 (portage)

Paddle it: 5/5

Lake Chippewa Flowage

The Chippewa Flowage was an unexpected visit for me, after 12 inches of rain caused the Namekagon beyond flood stage. Campsites and a lack of fast-moving water brought another leader, 7 youth, and me here.

There are 11 DNR campsites, six LCO (Le Courte Oreilles) tribal campsites and 1 USFS campsite spread over the 15,300 acre lake. The LCO campsites are reservable and cost $20 for 3 nights. The other sites are free and are first-come first-serve. On a weekend, I would suggest reserving and paying for a site to assure that you and your party do indeed get to camp on the lake.

There are many boat landings around the flowage. We choose CC South because of its central location on the lake. There are many motor boaters that were camping the weekend we went; the first five sites we looked at were unavailable on a Friday afternoon.

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Our first two nights, we did stay at an LCO campsite on Flat Island, a very peaceful portion of the lake, not visited by water skiers and fast motor boaters, only trolling fishermen. The LCO site had no toilet. On Sunday (a less popular day to camp), our other site was at Turkey Vulture Island, the closest site to CC South Landing. One couldn’t see civilization from this site, but there was a small island across from the Flat Island site. With a wind from the west, Turkey Vulture Island was open and gusty. It did have a toilet, which the DNR website said they all do. It also had poison ivy.

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Our paddle trip consisted of explorations of the lake. We checked all of the DNR campsites on the East side of County CC, canoeing near Hell’s Half-Acre. We also canoed to Wagon Wheel Island near the Southeast corner of the lake, near the East Fork of the Chippewa River. There was a campsite here that was occupied and LOTS of poison ivy. Another excursion was an attempt to see Al Capone’s Hideout in the Southwest corner of the lake, but a strong wind from the west deterred us.

Wildlife here was plentiful – loons called each night (including baby loons!), bald eagle, even a raccoon found a forgotten smell-able bag that didn’t make it into the bear bag. Pines and birch cover the forest and I even found chantrelle, yellowfoot and black trumpet mushrooms!

Map reading is essential to paddle this lake, as it is large with lots of islands. You can find a map http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/ChippewaFlow/documents/ChipFlow15Map.pdf and more information on camping here http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/ChippewaFlow/camping.html.