Lemonweir to Louis Bluff on the Wisconsin River

Setting:

The third time we have won Ice House Getaway on Louis Bluff, in the River Alliance Auction. This time we were playfully trying to push the bid up and accidentally won! The Weinhold family offers a 2-day stay in their Ice House cabin on the Wisconsin River to the highest bidder to benefit the organization. With their permission, we invited several friends to paddle the Wisconsin River with us, take out at their private beach on the bluff and then have a picnic in the riverside gazebo. This land is private (not rentable) and part of a nature conservancy so it will not be developed into a tourist attraction in the future.

Initially, we planned the trip for the previous weekend but postponed it a week due to heat (nearly 90 degrees – 4 daily records broken) and wind. The weather for our paddle was perfect-temps in the 60’s, sunny,  with manageable wind 6-10 mph on the river.

Flow

USGS #05404000 Wisconsin River at Wisconsin Dells: 4800 cfs (median for Sept 30 ~4000 cfs)

The shuttle:

About 15 minutes from Louis Bluff (Teisberg on the GPS), to the Two Rivers Public Landing off Cliff House Rd at the confluence of the Lemonweir with the Wisconsin River. It is a very pretty drive.

The paddle:

After last-minute visits to the porta-john and the obligatory group photo, we launched at 1:20. The headwind and crosswinds made us work fairly hard at paddling at times. We couldn’t just sit back and float! Because the water level was lower than on previous paddles on this section, we had to pay attention to our route to avoid getting hung up on sandbars just below the surface. We meandered back and forth from one bank to the other several times which meant we got to see close-up the beautiful sandstone bluffs on both sides of the river.

At the end of the trip, we entered Heron Bay at the north end of Louis Bluff which is sheltered from the wind. We paused to take in the awesome sandstone features and snapped lots of photos of the spectacular bluff.  It was sunny, warm and protected from the wind. As we approached the bluff, we met Craig Weinhold and his family and Dusty the dog in canoe and kayaks heading upstream to paddle around in the sloughs. Coming out of the bay into the main channel the wind kicked up some rolling waves which made for some particularly strenuous paddling the last few hundred feet to the Weinhold’s private beach on the bluff. Take out time: 3:20, about a 2 hour paddle.

Wildlife:

Not much. Maybe one eagle in flight, crows, a few jumping fish.

Turtle Creek (first time!)

Setting: We wanted to try this creek after reading about it on milespaddled.com. We had scouted several landings a couple of weeks ahead of time and concluded that the Co Hwy C (Fairfield) put-in and the “pipeline” take-out (just off S. O’Riley Rd) would be best for us.  We interrogated a group of casual paddlers as they passed under the E.Creek Rd bridge in canoes and kayaks. They seemed to be having a great time.  They had put in at “Fairfield” and were going to take out at the “pipeline.” They said they had encountered no obstructions, floated easily over the weeds and had paddled this creek many times. Flow was about 70 cfs that day.  We watched them navigate the deadfall below the bridge, and no one seemed to have any trouble.  For our outing we chose a sunny Friday afternoon, temp around 80.  P accompanied us in her kayak.

Water level: 87 cfs USGS 05431486 Turtle Creek at Carver’s Rock Road near Clinton, WI (median for 8/21: 65 cfs)   It had rained about 0.5 inches 3 days before which had briefly increased the flow to around 200 cfs.

Put-in: bridge on Co Hwy C (Fairview) at 4:30 pm. There is space along the shoulder on both sides of the bridge for 3-4 cars. Be careful doing a U-turn on the road because the speed limit is 55, and it’s impossible to see vehicles approaching from the north side of the bridge around the blind curve.  We put in upstream left from the bridge.  There is no gravel or concrete ramp, but the put-in is well used, fairly level, and we didn’t have much trouble launching the kayak and canoe.  P took her kayak through the nearest arch.  We paddled upstream a few feet and went through the middle arch.

The shuttle: Southeast on Co Hwy C about 1/4 mi to Clowes Rd. Right on Clowes Rd to the T at E. Creek Rd. Right on E. Creek Rd, over the bridge to S.O’Riley Rd. Left on S. O’Riley Rd to the turn-off (left) to the parking lot at the “pipeline” just past the RR tracks.  Shuttle is 2.8 miles.

The paddle:  Although the current looked fairly swift at the put in, we did not have any difficulty at the launch or during the paddle.  Probably the current is too swift, however, to do this trip without a shuttle, even at low water levels.  The water was clear but with long strands of vegetation under the surface which did not slow the boats.  We did notice that P had to remove strings of vegetation from her paddle every few strokes during the first mile or two.  There were intermittent stands of tall stalks of some type of grass. These could be easily avoided or paddled through.  Depth seemed to vary from a few inches to 3-4 feet.  No grounding. We had to maneuver around some tree debris just below the E.Creek Rd bridge, but with the slow current it wasn’t too scary. Otherwise, the creek was unobstructed by deadfall.  The setting was isolated and pretty with nice reflections in the afternoon light. The creek was fairly twisty in places.  Lots of shade but open sunny stretches as well.  There were no houses.  Probably the part we paddled was entirely within the Turtle Creek Wildlife Area.  The trip was about 4.2 miles.

Wildlife: not as much as we expected. Fish, flycatchers, swallows, dragonflies. No turtles or herons.

Take-out: 6:20 pm at “pipeline” off S. O’Riley Rd, just downstream from the RR bridge. Small drop off at landing but not a major problem for the canoe or kayak. It was not muddy, and we didn’t have to step into the water to get out. There is a nice gravel parking lot.  No facilities.

Fox River, Princeton to Lock Rd

Setting: Sunny weekday afternoon temp in the 70’s. We had never paddled the whole section, and we wanted to get out there before the expected motorboat madness of July 4 weekend.

Water level at Berlin: 1180 cfs. Median for July 2 is ~850. There is also a gage at Princeton, which does seem to pretty much follow the Berlin gage. Paddling Southern Wisconsin books suggests the Berlin gage.

Put in: 3:45 pm at the excellent concrete boat ramp in Princeton at the park at the end of Jefferson St. There is adequate parking and a porta-potty.

Shuttle: 5 mi, 15 min. East on Jefferson St, south(right) on Mechanic St, east(left) on Main St/Hwy 23/73, north (left) at the Piggly Wiggly onto Hwy 3, which is or becomes County Rd J.  Continue straight north on Huckleberry Rd at the somewhat scary intersection where J turns east. After about 2.5 mi on Huckleberry Rd, Lock Rd is a left turn at the brown DNR sign for the White River/Fox River Fishery Area.  The large parking lot is at the end of Lock Rd.

The Paddle:  Gentle current and mostly isolated wooded surroundings. We passed the St Marie Rd put-in/take-out on the left which we had used for a no-shuttle paddle last year. We paddled a short distance into a creek (Black Creek?) which entered from the left about 3 mi from the put in . Some day, with water levels no lower, it might be fun to see how far we could paddle upstream into the creek.

Take out: 5:50 pm at the excellent concrete ramp at the old White River lock and dam site.

Wildlife: heron, swallows, many kingfishers and flycatchers.

Length: 6 miles