Escanaba, M.Br., Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-III+(IV) (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||30 fpm|
|Escanaba, M.Br. At Greenwood Dam|
|virtual-128990||200 - 600 cfs||II-III+(IV)||01h41m||~ 36.9565 cfs (too low)|
|Likely too low for reasonable whitewater trip? (We could use your input! Add a comment or report about flows!) Virtual gauge approximates flow in this reach based on relative drainage at former sampling site (68 sq.mi.) versus at reporting gauge (46 sq.mi.).|
Probably the uppermost 'reasonable' reach of the Middle Branch Escanaba starts at the Greenwood Reservoir and Dam. As with the subsequent sections, this is rather 'lake/drop" (pool/drop taken to an extreme). As a result, while average gradient figures don't look all that great (compared to many class III/IV runs), the main drops here will definitely catch your attention (and merit scouting).
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.7||USGS sampling site||N/A|
|1.4||Third Major Pitch||IV|
|1.8||Riffles and rips||I|
|6.9||One more shot of gradient||III+|
All which follows is gleaned solely from online satellite views, and not from first-hand observation. As a result, it is highly tentative regarding actual difficulty. Anyone having first-hand awareness of any features on this section is highly encouraged to help out your fellow boaters by uploading comments, photos, and videos (or links to photo/video repository).
Putting in as close to the dam as possible/allowed, the run starts right out with rip-snorting action, as a wide section of dam is quickly funneled down to a relatively narrow upside-down-question-mark-shaped rapids.
A brief pool interrupts the initial sequence, yielding quickly to the second pitch, which starts steep (merits scouting!). Action mellows and rebuilds twice (class II-III+) before it ends at 0.44 mile. (Likely only the initial pitch needs foot-scout -- the rest should go ok, though be ready to catch eddies in the event of any wood blockages.)
YouTube footage of these first two drops is available on the internet, but has the 'embed code' disabled, so we cannot directly display it.
The 'Share' link is available: Scouting Cataract Falls Dam and Early Drops
USGS lists a sampling site at this location with drainage area of 68 square miles.
A private residence on river-left has a footbridge across the river. Presumably it has enough clearance (so as not to be washed away at usual high-water events), but be on the lookout, just in case.
Less than a quarter-mile after that second footbridge (and after passing another residence, where it takes a 90-degree-left turn), as it bends to the left, it narrows and hits the next major drop. (Hard to tell for sure, but satellite view seems to show, possibly, a footbride across this drop.) This appears to merit scouting!
A brief pool (perhaps 0.1 mile) leads to (what appears on satellite to be) a massive rock outcropping on river-left, signaling time to scout again! This is a short pitch into a huge pool.
As you continue downstream, you encounter mostly flat/flowing water, which will be interrupted randomly and briefly by low-grade riffles and rips.
After a good long stretch of swiftwater eases (class I, maybe fringing on class II?), you arrive at the Co.Rd.Ch bridge. You can get out here, or . . . there is another fine stretch of swiftwater (class I-II) downstream as the river takes a round-house bend to again approach the road about a quarter-mile down, at a spot which may actually be as handy (or handier?) to park a vehicle and to exit the river.
In case you may wonder "What happens downstream of here . . . between this stretch and the next listed stretch of this river?" . . . Well, it is mostly flatwater, with random low-grade riffles and rips (and a pretty fair scattering of houses, many with footbridges across the river) . . . Until just more than a quarter-mlie upstream of the confluence with (Marquette County) Black River, and Co.Rd.581. A private residence sits river-left and has great view of a brief rapids/falls which appears split by a spline of rock (likely at least class III/III+, maybe pushing into class IV?)
If you don't mind paddling the nearly 4 miles of flat/flowing water (again, interspersed by minor rips), you may run this drop. To see it otherwise would appear to require getting permission to cross private property.