The great thing about paddling rivers is not just seeking out the grand majestic Mississippi or St. Croix Rivers, but to explore smaller rivers near your home or off the beaten path.
That’s what we did this week. The Little Fork River is a smaller river that is located from the Minnesota and Canadian border and continues for about 100 or so miles. Smaller rivers often have little development which was the case with the Little Fork. We spent the day watching the various landscape of pine trees, farmland, and wooded banks. We followed a river otter for a half mile and watched several eagles and an owl!
The one “challenge” about paddling rivers is the shuttling. When you get out you need a way to get back to the beginning. We took two cars to the drop off, dropped off our canoe and locked it to a tree. Next we both drove to the take out and left a vehicle, then drove back to the put in with our gear, unlocked the canoe and took off. Often, more popular rivers, will offer a shuttle service. In the past we have even locked a bicycle at the take out and someone biked back to the put in vehicle.
The sections we did had it all, slow quiet water, a few Class I rapids, two Class II rapids and a Class IV-VI Hannine Falls (which yes, we did portage). We lingered long enough to snap photos and a video.
Another important thing about rivers that I have mentioned before is, ALWAYS SCOUT RAPIDS.
Even if you have done the rapids a hundred times before, a downed tree, log, or other obstacle could have recently wedged its way into your path. Remember, Get Out and Scout!
This weekend 7 of us (3 canoe teams) are heading down the St. Croix in WI & MN.
We had planned to start at the beginning of the river at the Gordon Dam, but low waters deemed this section “challenging”.
At the last minute we opted for a lower section, always check water levels before heading out. We put in at the C.C.C Bridge (a few miles north of Riverside Landing) and we took out at the St. Croix State Park Main Landing.This section is wild and scenic. It can get low so check water levels. There are easy riffles and rapids and a steady flow. Campsites were very nice (watch out for ticks!)
Despite rain on the first night, snowflakes on the second morning, and 35 mph wind gusts, we all had a great time! Without portages you can bring along a cooler and treat yourself to great meals. Each canoe team was responsible for their own breakfast, lunch and snacks. For two nights on the river, 2 teams each took a dinner, and the 3rd team provided dessert and an appetizer for each of the two dinner meals. We ate well!
The MVP’s of the weekend went to our tarps, with the rain and wind it made
camp-life bearable. Runner-up went to our knee-high wader boots. It was so nice to have dry feet all weekend and to be able to get in and out of the canoe without having to be next to shore. Also, in low spots, it’s easy to jump out, pull the canoe along, and jump back in. Dry feet!
We saw a lot of eagles, herons, osprey, deer, owls and turtles! We only saw one other boat until the take out, we had the whole river to ourselves. The earlier you can plan a river trip the better. I would recommend the St. Croix as an easy beginner trip.
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.