This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I(II)
Length 3.88 Miles
Flow Range 200 - 1800 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 147 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/05/2017 11:46 pm

River Description

The Little Falls Dam on the Willow River (in the state park) had been found to be failing (back in 2015) and funds were allocated for its removal. As of February of 2017, funds have been allocated for reconstruction of that dam. At present, the pond which that dam created appears to be drained. I have no first- or second-hand info on whether any true whitewater exists in the ~2 miles from our listed take-out of the prior section of the Willow River down to that dam site, or the river's remaining miles to Hudson.

Scrolling downriver via online/satellite images, there appears to be a very brief/small ledge at ~1.38 miles down from the footbridge (in Willow River State Park), and another immediately at the dam location, where there appears to be a slightly more significant, though still very brief bit of rapids. (Might be good park-and-play? Maybe not. And no doubt off-limits if/when they have construction happening on the dam.)

Other than the above-mentioned locations, the 2 miles appears to have mostly relatively mild swiftwater and rips, as does the next ~1.88 miles to Trout Brook Road. The remaining distance until encountering the backwaters of Lake Mallalieu (and the subsequent confluence with the St.Croix) similarly appear to have shoals and likely fine swiftwater and tame rapids, but proceding beyond Trout Brook Road is likely to entail much flatwater paddling on the lake/flowage to the next available public landing. While canoeists and recreational kayakers may not mind the distance (at least, if winds are not strong), folks looking for whitewater or at least swiftwater paddling will do well to exit at our listed take-out.

SO ... anyone reading this ever paddle anything on the Willow River downstream of the section listed on AW? We'd love to have a comment or report (and photos/videos, if you've got them!).

Rapid Descriptions

Minor ledge/rapids

Class - N/A Mile - 1.38
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Aerial/satellite views (during Little Falls dam drawdawn) appear to show a minor ledge/wave/rapids at this point.

Little Falls (dam site)

Class - N/A Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Aerial/satellite views (during Little Falls dam drawdawn) appear to show a potentially interesting ledge/wave/rapids at this point.

Depending upon when construction is happening at this site, it may be possible to do a PnP (Park and Play) at this location.

USGS gauge (292 sq.mi.)

Class - N/A Mile - 2.42
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Class - N/A Mile - 2.68
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Frequent/random shoals are sprinkled all the way down this stretch below the dam site. At some flows these may create fun minor rapids (riffles and rips).

Head of Island

Class - N/A Mile - 3.18
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The next mile of river is divided by a large island. (In fact, there is a small split a bit earlier, and later on it braids into even more channels.) It appears the left channel may be a bit more 'open' and may carry a bit more of the flow.

End of Island

Class - N/A Mile - 4.19
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

In the left channel (downstream of the aformentioned bridge) it appears there may be a small ledge/wave. Not long thereafter, the flow from the other channel rejoins. To reiterate, that channel appears to have much more wood likely blocking passage in the river at random locations.

End gradient / begin backwaters

Class - N/A Mile - 4.75
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

At this point, the river is backwatered from dams in Hudson forming Lake Mallalieu. Substantial braiding, sandbars, and treed islands will occur, obscuring the main channel.

If you zoom in on (at least some) aerial/satellite views at this location (at least in the present views, spring 2017), you may see a few kayaks which appear to be beached on a sandbar or mud bank.

We leave it to the intrepid explorer to find their best choice of landing if proceding this far downriver.


Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports






Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1207519 05/08/17 Rob n/a
1207520 05/08/17 Rob initial add
1207642 06/05/17 Rob undo formatting glitches