This paddle was a little shorter than we expected, but it made for a nice leisurely paddle an a beautiful clear day. We were eager to try it – first time this route.
On our reconnaissance last year, we had seen a notice at Wick’s Landing south of Princeton that the dam was to be reconstructed in 2020; so we wanted to find out if we would be able to use the canoe launch several hundred feet downstream from the dam. After contacting several sources, including the City of Princeton and Green Lake County Land Conservation, which couldn’t give us the information, we came across an entry on berlinboatclub.com that mentioned Janke Construction as the company doing the repairs. As a last resort, we contacted Janke and were actually able to talk to the project manager who told us that we would have access to the canoe launch that day but Lock Rd would be closed the next week.
The launch was indeed accessible, and there was a porta-john available (very clean at the time).
The shuttle route from Wick’s Landing to the Old St Marie Rd landing is 4 miles. 14 minutes round trip. Lock Rd to Highway 23, right on Highway 23 to Highway 73 in Princeton, right on Highway 73 for about 1/4 mile to River Rd (County Highway D), left on River Rd about 1 mile to Old St Marie Rd, right on Old St Marie Rd to landing at end of road.
Despite the high flow at the Berlin gauge, the water level did not seem extremely high or the current swift. The paddle was leisurely. There were no obstructions. There surroundings are fairly remote, with no buildings until the outskirts of Princeton. The right bank is tree-lined, and the left bank is mostly marshy plain. You do hear road noise from Highway 23, but it’s not too bothersome. After passing through Princeton and paddling under the Highway 73 bridge, you see the landing on the right where we have put in many times. It now has an accessible kayak launch for people with disabilities. The banks soon become more wooded, and there are a few houses on the left and the familiar “leaning shed.” We always like seeing that old railroad swing bridge with the massive rotary mechanism used to turn the bridge to allow large boats to pass when the Fox River was a more commercial waterway.
The red-roofed cabin on the right bank is a scenic landmark that we love to float by. Unfortunately, it was surrounded by water and looked a bit forlorn. We could almost paddle to the door – the water was that deep.
What are those flag poles on the Fox River?
We were intrigued by the many black and white striped poles with white flags at random intervals along the banks. A google search revealed that these mark bank poles or set lines, fishing lines. Whether the pole must be striped and the dates they are required depends on the river. There is a .pdf with a diagram of the poles on WI DNR website.
“Any one using a setline, set or bank pole must place a white flag 10 inches square (or larger) on a staff or pole 3 feet or more above the surface of the water or bank. The flag cannot be placed in the main channel of a navigable waterway. The flag must be numbered with figures that are at least 3 inches high and that correspond to the license number authorizing the use of the setline, set or bank pole. The flag staff or pole cannot be more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter and the portion of the pole extending above the water or bank must be banded with horizontal, alternate black and white markings of 2 inches to 6 inches wide”
Water level: Flow at USGS 04073500 Fox River at Berline: 2700 cfs. >90th percentile, median 1130 cfs.
Wildlife: Frogs, a turtle, jumping fish, swallows, red-winged blackbirds, a muskrat. Heard sandhill cranes.
The Old St Marie Rd landing is easy to spot from the river, has plenty of parking, no facilities.
Our timing was pretty accurate. There was a surprise detour on Rt 22 that threw it a bit out of whack. The paddle was 1.75 hrs even at a leisurely pace
noon – depart
1:15 – arrive at put-in, shuttle 15min, unload
1:45 – launch, paddle (took less time than expected)
3:45 – take out, shuttle, pack up
4:30 – leave
5:45 – home