Just wondering if any of the MidWest paddlers out there who have done day trips on the Maquoketa river in Iowa could offer thoughts or suggestions on best sections to paddle, places for put in and take outs, ect. I have heard this is supposed to be a fun and scenic little river. Also, are there sections beginners should avoid and why? Thanks in advance.
Lake Delhi Dam to Monticello is a good one to 2 day float. Nothing too bad for beginners just a couple dams to portage around.
I like the areas south of Monticello. Pictured Rocks, Indian Bluffs, Buzzard Ridge, Maquoketa Caves - the area from Monticello to Maquoketa caves is about 35 miles with enough accesses to spend a couple days in this area. This area is also beginner friendly. Some of the best smallmouth fishing in the state as well.
There is a couple rivers in that area that aren’t so beginner friendly if your interested?
Iowa DNR canoe guide
Check out this URL for a PDF version of the official Iowa DNR canoeing guide for the Maquoketa river.
You might also want to invest in Nate Hoogeveen’s new book “Paddling Iowa.” He has chapters on the Maquoketa and 95 other canoe routes in Iowa.
If you are familiar with Mike Svob’s books “Paddling Illinois,” “Paddling Northern Wisconsin,” or “Paddling Southern Wisconsin” you will like Nate’s book. I can highly recommend all four of these books. They are available on Amazon.
Like the other Paddling books I mentioned, Nate’s book gives you detailed information on the rivers, along with good maps showing river miles, accesses, and the small rural roads that get you to the accesses. He also describes shuttle routes and minimum water levels for non-dragging canoeing.
We just spent 2 neat days on the Maq. We camped at Maquokota Cave State Park. There are only about 30 camping sites so you have to get there early. There are about 28 caves in the park and cavers get awfully muddy, but they have fun. The river was real high, but understand that it is clear and sandy suggest you get an Iowa Gazetteer which shows all roads and possible crossings which can be a put-in. A great investment. From what we saw of it, there would not be many problems…all smooth water.