Turtle Creek on Labor Day

It is rare to see such clear water in the rivers and streams we paddle on. Turtle Creek and The Nemahabin are a delight for that reason. A healthy stream with fish and fresh water mussels.

Timing from Madison on this day:
11:45 Drive + 1 pitstop (there are no facilities on this paddle)
unload, shuttle
1:50 Launch & Paddle (2hrs 20m)
4:10 Take Out
load, shuttle, drive
5:45 Home

Flow at USGS station 05431486 at Carver’s Rock Rd near Clinton: 93 cfs, a little higher than normal for this date.  Depth and current were fine for our canoe and the two kayaks. The day was warm with temps in the mid 80’s, with a stiff headwind.  Although we thought there might be hordes of paddlers on this holiday, there was plenty of room to park along Highway C; and we had the creek to ourselves. There was one fisherman on the bridge catching what he called creek chubb, and one kayaker took out as we were unloading. He told us he had started at Krug Road and had been paddling for 4 hours.  He reported the route was beautiful up to Highway 11.  After that, he encountered some weedy dead ends and had to back out and search a bit to find the channel.

The shuttle from Highway C bridge to the takeout on O’Riley Rd is about 2.9 miles. Go southeast on Highway C, right on Clowes Rd, right at the T onto Creek Rd, left at O’Riley Rd to the takeout at the “pipeline” just after crossing the RR tracks. Turn left into the parking lot where there is room for several cars.)

The put-in was grassy and a little slippery, but all of us launched without much trouble.  The creek has a sandy bottom and a lot of underwater vegetation,  most of which is probably native and has a right to be there.  It wound around the kayak paddles occasionally but didn’t seem too bothersome to our kayaking companions.  The duckweed is annoying but can be mostly avoided.  We had to paddle through some tall grassy vegetation that we thought was wild rice on the last half of the trip, but it was always easy to find the main channel.   The bridge on Creek Road is a little past the halfway point.  There is a parking lot, and one could put in or take out there, although we never have.  The creek feels quite remote-there are no houses at all and very little road noise.  We didn’t see much wildlife except for a couple of turtles, red winged blackbirds, fish of various sizes, and a heron in flight at the takeout.  The creek is unobstucted for the most part.  There is occasional deadfall on the first part of the trip and just after the Creek Rd bridge but nothing that couldn’t be easily paddled around.

This creek has become one of our favorite destinations, and we would paddle it even more often if it didn’t require a shuttle.