St Croix river, WI Advice

A friend and I are wanting to paddle the Namekagon and St Croix in mid May. Tenatively 135 mile from Trego (sp) dam to St Croix Falls. I want to make sure the distances we’re planning are realistic for the six days we have. Neither of us have paddled the Nam and St Croix before. We’ll both take plastic sea kayaks.

My friend is an experienced distance paddler and has done all the Mississippi, and 2300 miles on the Yellowstone/Missouri and routinely had forty mile days. However he hasn’t done a hundred mile plus trip in over four years, he’s 77 now. I’ve never broke 100 miles so that’s one of our objectives.

So with the levels that are likely in May are 25 mile days realistic?

Does anyone have any recommendations on things to see? Or campsites to use or avoid?

Thanks for the help!!


It really depends…
The flow depends heavily on the spring runoff. So it all really depends on the amount of snow we get this season. some springs are kind of dry.

A good time to go…
I live on the Saint Croix, but a bit farther upstream. I can at least give you some general info.

You’ve chosen a nice route, and it will be a good time to go. In August, some of your route might be a little shallow and scratchy. You’ll have more water in May.

The only disadvantage would be that some nice beaches and campsites might be under water. In some stretches, it might be harder to land and get ashore. If the water is very high, you’ll have a few rapids that might get interesting–but nothing really serious. Mostly pleasant paddling, and some good scenery.

If you start in Trego, you’ll be just upstream of a dam. You’ll be paddling for a ways on a lake, and then have a short portage around a dam. (River right, if I remember correctly.) It’s not bad, but you could skip it by starting at the next landing downstream. If you do that, you’ll be able to do the whole trip with no portages.

You’ll find some marked campsites on guidebook maps. There are also, however, a few unoffical spots on nice islands and sandbars. Depends on the water level, though.

If you finish on a weekend, you’ll encounter a little boat traffic below Nevers Dam (the actual dam isn’t there anymore). But it’s nothing like on the lower river. At saint croix falls, you’ll find landings on both sides of the river; both are a ways upstream from the dam.

If you enjoy fishing, there are spots here and there where you might find a few smallmouth.



Ooops. Already at the damn dam.
Looked more closely and saw that you’re already planning to start at or below the dam. Never mind that portaging stuff.

I think you can keep that pace in sea
kayaks, but do you want to? Will you have time to poke into interesting spots along the way? I might chop off a bunch of miles toward the end of your itinerary.