I recently finished a 5-day canoe trip on the Namekagon with teens. It was a great way to expose them to challenges of the outdoors as well as a beautiful place! I have written of the sections we covered before, so will focus on the camping aspect in this post. All of the sites that we used were group sites and had a fire ring, picnic table and pit toilet.
The first evening, we put in at Larsen Landing and paddled upstream a quarter of a mile. It was a quick current, making all struggle a bit, but the group made it to Site 70.0. The site is on the left (going upstream) and can be hard to find as the sign is pointing upstream for paddlers. The site itself was relatively small with not much space to place four canoes and a kayak. The rest of our equipment fit easily, though a good bear tree was harder to come by. It was a noisy night with lots of coyotes nearby, and was likely my favorite site.
The next day, we paddled ~4 miles to Phipps Flowage and camped at Site 73.6. It was a very rainy evening. Again it was a smaller site, and we were able to stay dry between our tents and a tarp. The picnic table was n an open area, so we were not able to gather at it during the rain (and it was chained down). We pulled one of our canoes to the top of the steep ridge we were on, and were able to stack the rest away from the water at the take-out site. The site was very shady in the morning so most of our belongings didn’t dry out. Bear trees abounded and there was a beautiful meadow down the trail from the toilet.
The next stop on our trip was to portage around Hayward Dam, after ~7 miles. The takeout is on the left side of the river and there is a big sign indicating where to go. It has a steep bank to pull the boats up. The portage itself isn’t too far – maybe 100 meters. We went down the bank by the treeline below the dam. Again, it was steep, with some large rocks to step down. It is definitely a place to be careful. There is another place to put in further down where the put-in is not as steep. It involves more walking.
We paddled ~3 miles to the first campsite past town (Site 63.0). This campsite had lots of space. There was evidence of bears being there are some poison ivy – on the path to the site, near the campfire ring and across the path from the campfire ring. There was lots of space by the river to put canoes and have them tipped onto each other – not a steep bank and lots of space was nice! The biggest drawback of this campsite was that you could hear the nearby lumber mill. All. Night. Long. Beeping from backing up vehicles, a steady hum of industry when you are in the wilderness for peace. I would not suggest this site (and likely the next one either) if you are looking for a quiet wilderness experience, with sounds of nature.
Our last full day on the river, we paddled 10.9 miles to Site 52.1. The river is swift here and it doesn’t take too long for over 10 miles. The tricky part of the river was the island right before the site. If you want to go to Site 52.6, make sure to go left at the big island. Otherwise, you will have to paddle upstream a little ways to get to it. Our campsite was great. There was a long path up to it, and it was very spacious. There is lots of poison ivy at this site, especially to the right side of the landing. There is a short stairway to bring boats up and lots of space right by the water to store them. Again, careful of the poison ivy! There are logs to sit by the fire and lots of space for tents. The sun rose over the river and was beautiful!
The takeout our last day was 2.2 miles downstream – Springbrook Landing! The water is swift here and we piled up as we waited to get out. We had to wait for some people moving very slowly to get in while we held on to logs in an eddy. The landing has a staircase, a steep way to get out, and space at the top to put boats. There is poison ivy at this landing too, so look out for it.
Camping with a group on this section of the Namekagon had its’ challenges and upsides. Overall it was a great experience!
Paddled August 8-12, 2017
KeyWords: Larsen Landing, Bayfield County, Hayward