A fun stretch of river for recreational kayakers and beginner whitewater paddlers. The run contains numerous areas of riffles and rips, and at least a couple waves capable of allowing surfs and (at ideal flows) spins for those in whitewater playboats.
An area paddler has been working with the 'powers that be' in an attempt to get recreational releases a few times during summer months. Stay tuned for further notice on this!
Other websites/blogs report wire fence spanning the creek at one or two places, though they appear to have been cut and rolled-back ashore (again, as of 2018.07.23 -- unknown whether they may be restrung or if that will be a permanent removal).
Signage at the impoundment indicates that there are periodic problems with blue-green algae blooms. When present, people are advised not to swim nor let any pets swim in or drink any water from the pond or river! Blue-green algae produce toxins which are dangerous/fatal to humans and pets!
"If the water is cloudy, looks like green paint or pea soup, or has floating scum layer or floating clumps ..."
These events are most likely when summer temperatures have warmed the millpond.
If you boat during these times, do your best to minimize contact with the water, and make certain to bathe/rinse yourself and any wet gear (clothing, PFD, etc) as soon as possible!
See WIDNR Website for more information. (Several tabbed pages of info to read!)
The put-in area (between the dam and Beaver Street) is very popular with fishermen, so you may have some contention for put-in. The shoreline through this mini-park is lined with rock (to minimize erosion). It will help if you are comfortable with a 'seal launch' from the rocks, otherwise you must steady your craft, get in, and get settled before it is caught in the current.
A short cement 'wall' (weir) crosses the river as it enters the Beaver Street culvert. There may be some very minor play possible here, but it is likely to be a fail at many flows.
NOTE: some blogs and websites have this and the next one listed as "low-head dams". They are really far too small to be categorized as such. The effective height is less than a foot, and the river-depth (even at nearly 500 cfs) is not enough to create any uniform, 'keeper' hydraulic.
Passing under Center Street, you will find another very short weir which may create a minor playable wave/hole at certain flows. Dead-center-river, not far below, a fair-sized rock awaits to either act as obstacle or entertainment (depending on flow and your skill). A little splishy-splash (minor waves) occurs as the water trips across rocky rubble and curves off to the right (SSE).
As you pass a tall watertower, additional riffles and waves are likely, especially as an outflow culvert dumps in (if your run is during or immediately after a rain), and the river bends further to the right. Novice boaters may be challenged to avoid the rocky shore that the current will take them toward. (Playboaters are not likely to find anything of interest here.)
Immediately after passing through the divided (two-tunnel) road bridge/culvert under Mill Street, you'll encounter the first (and arguably biggest and best) good wave on the run. Stronger boaters, at some flows, may be able to turn bow-upstream to catch this on the fly. More likely, it will be necessary to eddy-left and paddle up (bashing river-left rocks with your paddle) to surf (and spin?) on this feature.
A bit of constriction and riverbed obstruction (near/beyond the South end of Kraft warehouse/building) may make some small waves.
Also (at least, as of 2018.07.23) there are downed trees hanging low and into the river. At this time, passage is possible, but may require a little quick maneuvering. At lower flows (up to maybe 200-250 cfs?) confident paddlers should have no problems. As flow gets more 'pushy' (300-500 cfs), it will take strong, experienced boat handling to assure success here -- others may be taking a roll-of-the-dice, perhaps having success, perhaps suffering a capsize trying to navigate this area.
(Just a way point.)
Site of USGS gauge. For those who may wish a short trip, maximizing swiftwater/whitewater and minimizing flatwater, this may make a good alternate take-out. For those intimidated by the swiftness of the upper section (with its rocky riverbed and shoreline), this may be a better alternate put-in.
As you pass Cooper Street, and the river-left water-treatment plant (which may add some chemical smell to the flow), you begin a LENGTHY stretch of wide, almost lake-like flat water.
As the river encounters Hwy.151, you will enter a significant box-culvert.
(High overhead ... just a 'waymarker'.)
As you enter this trestle, be very alert for a wire fence which may span the creek on the downstream side. As of 2018.07.23 it has been removed, but that could change at any time!
There was another fence to be on the lookout for some distance downstream. BE CAREFUL AND ALERT in case they are restrung.
(Swiftwater, no rapids ... just a curiosity and a way-marker.)
An old rickety (private) bridge is signal for a sweet little wave.
Recreational paddlers will easily 'punch through', while whitewater boaters will likely wish to stall their downstream speed for a 'catch-on-the-fly' surf here. Depending upon flow, this may or may not be regainable, since it lies between vertical bridge-piers. (At 470 cfs, I was unable to regain it.) Depth seems good enough that it could allow vertical moves (unproven, since there was so much algae present the one time I have paddled this that I really didn't want to risk having to roll).
Serious playboaters/whitewater kaykers could attempt take-out here (foregoing nearly 1.25 miles of uneventful paddling, as all which remains downstream is swiftwater and flatwater).
However, guard-rails preclude parking for a bit of distance each side of the bridge, and road shoulders are not very wide for parking off the paved road. Whereas, both CTH.S and CTH.J have better parking and egress from the river.
There is a fair-sized island preceding, with only minor flow going to the right, and the main channel to the left. A minor rock-rubble dam narrows the river, creating a nice minor 'chute' and wave-train (at least, at some flows). (This is the last whitewater/swiftwater feature of this section.)
One could cut off the rest of the run (~0.6 mile of dead-flat water) by taking out at this bridge. The river here still has slightly swift current, the riverbanks are somewhat steep and filled with very tall grass (mid-summer til late-fall), making exit from the river more problematic than the listed take-out (unless you happened to 'beat down' a path when you set shuttle). The listed take-out does have better parking, and the 'locals' may be keeping that landing a bit better 'kept' (mowing, providing a slightly 'improved' landing area).
Likely well-known by experienced paddlers, but another “hazard“ of paddling this (or any other) river in Wisconsin during summer months … horseflies and deer flies! Not generally a problem in the first mile (in town), but expect to be totally swarmed by them on any warm day through the rest of the run. Either cover all exposed skin with bug repellent, or wear a long-sleeved paddle jacket with high-necked collar, and a bug headnet! (And frankly, I’ve even had them bite me through a nylon jacket!)
Flow regulation is done from the dam immediately upstream to control 'pond height' for Beaver Dam Lake.
Paddleable at 100 CFS (though early going is likely to be scrapey), 200 CFS is better, and 300-400 CFS is pretty much 'ideal' for strong, confident, experienced paddlers.
Gauge/flow analysis (based on USGS data, 1985-2013):
Drainage area at gauge: 157 sq.mi.
Minimum daily mean flow (1988.10.30): 0.64 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 8 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 299 cfs
Maximum daily mean flow (2008.06.16): 1660cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 37 (under 3 is quite steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Mill street bridge
View downstream from Mill Street
Mill Street Wave
Beaver Street Weir
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