Wisconsin canoe weekend reco?

Hi all, I need some help with a reco for a Wisconsin canoe trip.

I’m a Wisc Newbie, mostly used to the Southern Missouri and Arkansas rivers.

Looking for a 2-4 day canoe trip on a river in Wisc.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

5hrs or less drive from Chicago

Class II or III

Not too crowded. Serene.

Great scenery. Sandstone cliffs would be a plus

Float camps or primitive camping

Served by a canoe rental with shuttle service

Thanks from a new member here.

Lots of Rivers but
not so many outfitters that I’m aware of. Then again I haven’t had the need to use them.

I’m not familiar with any of the southern Wisconsin Rivers but I believe most are predominantly flat water. Go north and you’ll find plenty of whitewater. Staying within 5 hours of Chicago will get you to quite a few good rivers. For longer trips and larger water try the Wolf or Peshtigo. For smaller rivers try the Popple, Pine or Pike. The Peshtigo has some primative campsites and much is public land where you can camp anyplace you like. No outfitters that I’m aware of though.

The Namekagon and St. Croix may be on the edge of that 5 hr limit but there is lots of water and available outfitters.

You might want to check out the following site for the St, Croix


The River Alliance of Wisconsin has a good web site with links to other groups and some outfitters.


Avoid the “Paddles and Pathways” link, my virus scanner started beeping like crazy when I tried their link.

Not so sure about the St. Croix but none of the other rivers I mentioned have any sandstone bluffs, just lots of granite outcrops, primeval forests, crystal clear water, abundant wildlife and other “natural stuff”…if you like that sort of thing.

Also, pick up the books
"Paddling Northern Wisconsin" and “Paddling Southern Wisconsin” I beleive they are both by Mike Svob

I’d check but I have the books at work. Hey, some folks look at naughty pics online on company time, I look at canoeing books…

OK sometimes I look at canoe web sites online on company time but never naughty canoe web sites…

OK except for that one time, but got out as soon as I reviewed all the thumbnail images in great detail.

Enjoy exploring our wonderful state.

A bit further
If you don’t mind traveling a little further (5-6 hr.), the Flambeau River near Park Falls would satisfy all your requirements, you would have a couple different stretches to choose from too.

Closer to you, the Wolf River has some great stretches of scenery and rapids, not sure on the camping or outfitter situation though. I know there are a couple of kayak schools right there so I would think they offer pickups.

I agree with the previous posts, Paddling Northern Wisconsin is a great book and would give you a lot more information.

Great. I’ll check out the books and am already snooping the sites.

Actually not looking for many rapids, but a couple class II (maybe III) stretches would be interesting just to get the heart going.

Also, just need a canoe rental/shuttle, not a full outfitter.

If anyones familiar with the Eleven Point in Missouri, Im hoping to find something like that.

Beatiful, quiet, little development, lots of bends, mix of wider slow sections and more narrow, swifter runs. Campable sites every few miles or so. Trout a plus.

Flambeau looks interesting.

Flambeau River , Yes
I agree with Dawgy. The N Fork of Flambeau will probably be your best compromise. It has nice campsites, great scenery (but not like the Buffalo River) and the possibility of a three day trip. I wish it would have more rapids thought. If you put in at Nine-Mile tavern and pull out at Flambeau Flowage it would make a nice three-day trip unfortunately only the last section has rapids of any significance. Another option, that I have done, is to camp at one of the beautiful state camp sites at Lake of the Pines or Connors Lake. Run one day the Flambeau River from Turtle Flambeau Flowage to Agenda Landing this section has several nice CL I-II ( I used a taxi cab from Park Falls to shuttle). Next day you can start on the South Fork (water permitting) and continue down to Beaver Dam Landing or the Flowage. This would give you the best selection of rapids some of them could be very challenging. At least one needs to be portages (at least I would portage it). There is an outfitter that shuttles and rents canoes at Bear Creek Lodge two miles west from Connors Lake.

If you are looking for the best WW in the state, the Wolf and the Peshtigo are definitively your best rivers. They are very busy in the summer and no wilderness campsite on the river (that know of). There are other small river such as the Pine, Pike, Pople the have nice stretches of WW and are certainly worth exploring. I did the Pine River last year, it is very nice river but the water level needs to be up for a good float.

I also would check out some of the outings from RTS (Wisconsin River Touring) it is always a nice to have safety net as well as organized shuttles not mention a great group of people to paddle with. Well I hope this will help you a bit

Maybe the Brule then
If you’re looking for trout and not too concerned about rapids than maybe the Brule River on the Wisconsin/Michigan border would be good. I personally haven’t been there but will this summer, look at the posts under the topic “Brule River - Northeast Wisconsin.”

I am getting paddle itch talking about…
I have not run the Eleven Point yet, I was planning on running it early this spring but ended going to the Buffalo River instead. I ran the Jack Fork last year, I believe Beaver Dam and Cedar rapids on the Flambeau would more challenging that anytime you would fine on the Jack fork or the Eleven Point. There an outfitter/ canoe rental/shuttle across for the DNR office. You can give the DNR office a call (715) 332 5271 and I am sure they would give you the number of the canoe rental. Actually the name of the place is Big Bear Lodge, they operate a restaurant, canoe rental and bait shop ( they also shuttle). I have also commented on the Border Brule a River, a river “ Dawgy” recommended. I image the Brule to be similar to the Eleven Point it has three nice rapids very secluded, one of my favorite can’t wait to get back, this would be a longer drive for you but well worth it. You can rent canoes in Iron River and he will also shuttle you. Like others, I recommend you get the book from Mike Svob “ Paddling Northern Wisconsin” worth the money.

I agree with the Flambeau or the …
Bois Brule. The Cedar Rapids and the Beaver Dam rapids are larger than anything on the Current, Jack Fork, or the Buffalo. Flambeau River Lodge is one outfitter to shuttle with or The Ox Bow isn’t far from Nine mile landing. I believe it is around 42 miles from Nine Mile landing to the Flambeau River Lodge. By the way…they have great food there and fantastic root beer on tap. If you’re really into some marathon paddling… it is 140 miles from High Lake (northeast of Boulder Jct) to the Flambeau River Lodge with 8 portages. Nice camp sites along the entire route. I did that run last year.

The Bois Brule can be run from the Copper Range Campgrounds and has a lot more rapids. My son and I used bicycles to shuttle. (40 minutes)

Brule maybe a bit like EP
From the pics I saw of the Brule, you are correct in assuming it more like the Eleven Point. Brule looks great, but a tough drive from Chi, though.

Try to make it to the EP. I know it too well. Did it nearly every year or every other for a while, with a changing group of college buddies. Mostly in late Oct., colors peaking or past in Ozarks, very few other canoes (or none to see) then and a good chance of 70’s still. Hard to get to, but worth it and holds a special place in my heart.


Wisconline canoing link
Just found this. Not alot of info on each river, but good “nutshells” and nice to see all on same map.


Kickapoo River
might fit your bill. There is no class2-3, only some class 1 riffles. Scenic, big rock outcrops, camping opportunities, outfitters and probably within your driving requirements. SW Wisconsin

Avoid weekends starting from Ontario, WI unless you are 20-something and canoeing means party time. Still if you get beyond the partiers or go on a weekday the Kick is very enjoyable. The Kickapoo Valley Reserve offers the type of camping you’re looking for. As stated, the water is fairly mild. Most obsticles are in the form of strains and log jams and the river meanders a lot so there is a lot of steering to do.

See http://www.paddling.net/places/showReport.html?939

Upper Iowa River
From Kendallville to Decorah would work for you…check it out:


I was on the UIR last weekend…

– Last Updated: May-05-05 12:58 PM EST –

It is a pretty river but there was nothing between Kendallville and Malanaphy Springs that was close to a II let alone a III. Camping along the river is available at Chimney Rock (Chimney Rock Campground) in Bluffton (Rand's Bluffton Campground and Hruska's.) I have only stayed at Randy's Campground and only in late April / Early May but from what I have heard, it can get pretty wild around there in the summer. I would doubt it would be quiet. You would be able to get a shuttle or rent a canoe.

If you want more on the UIR, send me an e-mail.



– Last Updated: May-07-05 10:59 AM EST –

I missed the bit about II or III..me bad..