Canoeing, Rivers, Trip Planning

River #1 – The Bois Brule River, WI

May 14, 2009

The Brule is #1 in my book for a reason: the Bois Brule River in Northern Wisconsin has everything. Quiet-water, riffles, beautiful wild scenery, rapids, whitewater, and world class fishing. Here is a map of the major sections.

There are three major “sections” of the Bois Brule River. The first section from County Road S to Highway 2 is a very popular day trip with canoe outfitters in the area to assist you with rentals and shuttle rides.  It is an easier section with mostly quiet water and a few riffles and rapids. Make sure before doing any of these sections to call for water levels: 715-372-4866. The great thing about this river is thanks to the many wetlands in the area the water level is generally always adequate for paddling.

(Did you know that this river is also called the River of Presidents? 5 US Presidents have stayed and fished on the Bois Brule: Grant, Hoover, Eisenhower, Cleveland and Coolidge)

The second section starts at Highway 2 and ends at Highway 13.  The beginning of this section is picturesque and relatively calm, after Pine Tree Landing there are a few challenging rapids and two famous ledges, Lenroot and May’s.
About half way through this stretch is the Copper Range Campground and Landing. A great place to camp and fish or just have a picnic lunch. ( There are great fishing spots along this river so be on the lookout after every turn for fishermen and give them plenty of room)

The final section is from Highway 13 to Lake Superior. This section has easy rapids but slows down and widens the closer you get to Lake Superior. It was very ominous the last time we did this section. There was a storm rolling across Lake Superior with black clouds fast approaching. We paddled hard and pulled out in time to watch the storm from our car. This stretch is not as popular as the others, but to paddle out directly into Lake Superior is experience onto its own.


Please share your comments with us about the Bois Brule River, I’m sure many out there have paddled it enough to know every twist and turn.


  • Mike May 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Hi! thanks for the write up on some rivers, I am really excited to get into river paddling. i am wondering about the classes of some of the rapids on the Brule… Also, how long do each of the lengths take, 1, 2, and 3?

    Duluth, MN

  • ErikH May 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

    None of the rapids on the Brule are more than a class I-II, although i think the Mays Ledges are a III. This is a spot many people may want to pull out and around.

    I would plan on at least 6 hours for the Stones to Winnebijou, although if you’re going that far, stay in the water for a few more miles and hit the Halls and Little Joe rapids and pull out at the Hwy 2 landing. Total distance is 12 miles. However, the majority of this paddle is fairly flat. You will also enjoy the massive old cabins and boathouses along the river that look as if they have been frozen in time. Cedar Island is amazing with all it’s buildings and bridges.

    Hwy 2 down to Pine Tree is another 6 hour trip, with quite a bit of flatwater, some small rapids. Pine Tree to Hwy 13 is probably slightly less time, with the most fast water and the ledges.

    I’ve not canoed from Hwy 13 to the mouth, but it is a large amount of flat water and would be a pretty calm paddle. Again, plan on 6 hours or so. The distance is 8 miles.

    Stop on down to the store if you need any info. We also have a great book called, “Paddling Northern Wisconsin”. This book has 3 great maps of all the sections of the Brule, along with nicely detailed mileage descriptions and cool stuff to look for on the journey.

  • Nick August 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    How long of a drive is it to the Brule River from Duluth, MN?? I am curious as to how early in the AM I should leave so that I can have a nice long day trip up the Brule..It is Tuesday today, and I am planning on leaving Saturday morning, so I hope that someone sees this and is able to answer my question relatively soon! Thanks guys! Have a wonderful day, and thank you!

    Nick Weber
    Duluth, minneSNOWta

    • Abby September 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

      It’s about a 30-35 min drive from Duluth!

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