Canoeing, Rivers

River #5 – Namekagon River, WI

June 18, 2009

After writing and paddling a “river a week” for a bit now, one river keeps coming back to mind, The Namekagon River in Wisconsin. This river has it all, especially for an overnight/several day trip. Few rivers have such accessible campsites that are even equipped with picnic tables!

We started the river 33 miles upstream from Hayward, not many paddling books cover this stretch since it is mostly doable only in early Spring.  Over two seasons we have done down to where the river meets up with the St. Croix. This wild and scenic river has very limited development,great campsites, and plenty of wildlife including one of my favorite photos of an eagle (thanks J).  There are plenty of Class I rapids and riffles to keep everyone satisfied. The higher up you go on the river the less people you
will see. We have done this trip each year in mid May. It is a great family trip and also a good trip for beginning paddlers. The Namekagon River Visitor Center has always been extrememly helpful to us. Please give them a call before you head out at 715-635-8346.

River paddling is a great way to connect with your friends and family! A captive audience!


Have any of you done this river? We would love to read your story and see your photos!

1 Comment

  • Shawn Peyton July 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Yes Molly I have paddled this river three times. It is my favorite norhtern river by far, for all the amenities you mentioned. It is perfect for canoe camping, never once have I had to “race” for a site. tt is incredibly under used. I paddled it for the first time over a fourth of July weekend. The lack of traffic on the river was wild. We did the section from Hayward down past Trego and up to Howell Landing. The Trego Flowage is like hitting a wall in terms of foward progress and you’re definitely leaving behind the wilderness for awhile. Both above and below are amazing however. As you said several exciting but very managable rapids, plenty of riffles to keep it interesting. Never had to get out and walk even paddling in July and August. All together you couldn’t build a better river tripping experience if you tried. This one of the few paddling destinations that will make me choose over a boundary waters expedition. When I worked at Rutabaga here in Madison it was my first and best response to people who were interested in river tripping “up north.” I’m in the process of moving to Duluth and it is definitely in the top five reasons I’m coming north. That’s how much I love that river. lol

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