The name is almost certainly one of the most significant oxymorons I've encountered -- this is barely a river, and is anything but 'big'. In fact, it may test the limits of how small a watershed might be boatable in this area! Drainage at our listed put-in is about 12.8 square miles. By Hwy.35 (Great River Road) it has increased to 18 square miles, and by the take-out, about 20.5 square miles.
Anything this small is extremely likely to have regular and repeated problems with wood (deadfall, snags, strainers) blocking progress downriver, necessitating creative boating (to get under, around, through, or over) blockages, or to be ready to catch (what may be small-to-non-existent) eddies in order to portage. As a result, this will not be a good place for casual boaters with no proven whitewater skills! If you can't spin 180-degrees with a single paddle-stroke, if you can't do an upstream ferry, if you can't catch a one-boat eddy (and certainly if you don't know what each of those means!) then you should not even think about trying this run! Wood is the most common and the most dangerous thing you will regularly encounter in rivers. Unless you know and have practiced strategies for dealing with it, you are likely to lose equipment (paddles, boats). Unless you have learned and practiced swiftwater safety and rescue techniques, and have proper safety equipment, you may be risking your life (or that of others in your paddling group).
A further complication may be logistics of access for take-out. It appears there are housing/subdivisions flanking the river (but well-back from the river) near the end of the listed run. It appears (on satellite/aerial views) there may be a lane on river-right coming near water's edge as the gradient runs out. This is very likely to be private property (possibly marked against trespass), which would necessitate getting permission to use. On river-left, there may be a cul-de-sac one could use, if it is not all private lots and if parking is not restricted. Otherwise ... punt! Nearest access could be miles down the Mississippi.
What might possess someone to try it? The spirit of exploration ... trying something few (if any?) have tried ... and, for the fact that it appears to have areas of good gradient -- almost none of it less than 20 feet per mile, with a full mile at 43 feet per mile.
So ... has anyone out there taken a look at this? Or attempted to boat it? REPORT! Is it a wooded-up portage-fest, not ever worth considering? Are there actually rapids of some merit or does it manage to fritter away all its gradient with nothing more than riffles and rips? Let us know if this is worth attempting or warn us that it is a disaster and complete waste of time!
If access is not viable from US10 at 1040th Street, perhaps one can find parking and access someplace along this area. (It may be necessary to check at the farmstead to see about permissions to park and access the river up here.)
Since the early-going is mostly lower gradient (20FPM), smaller drainage, perhaps prone to sweepers, strainers, snags, etc. ...
If parking and access can be found near this location (perhaps with permission from some property owner), you might forego the prior 0.78-1.00 mile of river.
(Depending on access, interests, water, and wood...) A shorter trip might take-out (for upper stretch: ~3.6 miles / ~34 FPM) or put-in (for lower stretch: ~2.3 miles / ~30 FPM) here.
Google shows a named street down through the trees to (at least) this point. (But, then, I've found that Google has marked the lane to the 'back 40' on my parents farm, as well as the driveway to my ladyfriends' family cabin up north! So, don't believe every road you see on Google is actually a public thoroughfare!)
**IF** this is a public road, and if parking without blocking a driving lane is possible (either here, or further along), this may be used as a take-out access.
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Permits are not required for this reach.
Likely one will need to check for legal access (for both put-in and take-out, depending on where each seems most reasonable), which may involve finding property owner(s) and asking permission to park and cross private property. (Most generally, unless otherwise posted, you can park anywhere road-shoulders are wide enough to allow you to park off the paved area, and (staying within the roadway easement) can access the river.
Do not block any driveways or farm lanes, nor park in any business or residential parking without first obtaining permission. Not finding someone is NOT permission! Be prepared to go elsewhere.
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