Popple - A) MacArthur Pine Rd to Newald Tower Rd. (21.2 miles)

Popple, Wisconsin, US


A) MacArthur Pine Rd to Newald Tower Rd. (21.2 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 21.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 7 fpm
Max Gradient 10 fpm

NT Rapids, final leg towards bridge

NT Rapids, final leg towards bridge
Photo by John taken 09/26/10 @ 481 cfs

River Description

Above Cedar and NT Rapids the river is more intimate thus single-tree deadfalls and major “tanglewood” blockages are more likely.  There are 13 sets of mostly low-gradient, rocky rapids (I-II) above NT Rapids (6 of 13 from MacArthur Pine to Hwy 139, 5 of 13 from New 139 to Twin River Rd, and 5 of 13 (plus NT Rapids) from Twin River Rd. to Newald Tower Rd).  Between rapids the river is generally deep and floatable.  Whitewater adventures are available with higher flows (probably over 3-400 cfs measured at the USGS station 25 miles downriver) but the remoteness, narrowness, and the tendency for river-wide deadfalls makes for an increasing level of risk or struggle the farther upriver one starts.  Shuttle distances are not prohibitively long and gravel roads are usually acceptable for a bike-back option.

Twin River Rd to Newald Tower Rd is 5.8 miles of river and a shuttle distance of 6.7 miles.  For several years there has been a growing obstruction between the 4th and 5th drops (of 8) in Holmes Rapids that requires a short but snarly drag-around on the right.  The reward of this section is always NT Rapids.

Hwy 139 to Twin River Rd. is 7.1 miles of river and a shuttle distance of 5.1 miles.  Half of the length of river in this stretch is through marshland.  There is a massive tanglewood obstruction in the middle of McDougal Rapids that requires a 1,800 foot (river-left) portage, mostly through upland forests.

MacArthur Pine Rd. to Hwy 139 is 4.6 to 7.0 miles of river and a shuttle distance of 10-11 miles depending on where you take out.  There is much potential for seriously dangerous strainers, down trees and challenging rapids.  Ratings on the unnamed rapids are only a guess of what they might rate with adequate flows.  This stretch has a massive beaver dam and a couple of smaller ones.  Between Old 139 and the current Hwy 139 the river becomes braided and rocky, as it goes through a dense alder thicket that is not worth trying.  End the trip in the town of Popple River at Old Hwy 139 or portage downriver to Hwy 139.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-03 13:53:39


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Drainage area: ~36.8 sq.mi.N/A
0.2Unnamed Rapids 1I
0.4Unnamed Rapids 2II
1.0Unnamed Rapids 3IIPhoto
2.7Very Large Beaver DamN/A
3.1Unnamed Rapids 4II
4.2Unnamed Rapids 5II
4.3Unnamed Rapids 6II+Photo
4.5Old Hwy 139 Recommended TakeoutN/ATakeout Access Hazard
4.5Start of barely penetrable Alder thicketN/AHazard
6.9Hwy 139 BridgeN/A
7.0Landing (on left just after Hwy 139)N/APutin Access
11.5Castor RapidsI
12.3Camp Dock RapidsIIAccess
12.7Deerhead RapidsII
12.9McDougal RapidsII+Hazard Photo
13.0Permanent Log Pile in McDougal RapidsN/APortage Hazard Photo
14.9Twin Rivers Rd. LandingN/APutin Takeout Access
15.5Burnt Dam RapidsIIHazard Photo
15.7Log Pile Across Burnt Dam RapidsN/APortage Hazard Photo
17.4Old Podunk Dam SiteN/APhoto
19.4Suspension Bridge, Big Horn Hunting ClubN/AHazard Photo
20.7Cedar RapidsIIPhoto
21.0NT RapidsIIPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage area: ~36.8 sq.mi. (Class N/A)

At the uppermost listed put-in, drainage area (as calculated by USGS StreamStats 4.0 beta software) is 36.8 square miles. This is roughly 1/4 the drainage at the gauge (Popple River, near Fence), thus flows here could be roughly 1/4th the gauge reading. Expect the gauge to lag flows up here on both rise and fall.

Unnamed Rapids 1 (Class I, Mile 0.2)

480 feet long

Unnamed Rapids 2 (Class II, Mile 0.4)

1,250 feet long

Unnamed Rapids 3 (Class II, Mile 1.0)

Unnamed Rapids at low water

Unnamed Rapids at low water
Photo by John taken 05/22/15 @ 88 cfs

1/2 mile long

Unnamed Rapids 4 (Class II, Mile 3.1)

711 feet long

Unnamed Rapids 5 (Class II, Mile 4.2)

420 feet long

Unnamed Rapids 6 (Class II+, Mile 4.3)

Unnamed Rapids #6 at low water

Unnamed Rapids #6 at low water
Photo by John taken 05/22/15 @ 88 cfs

698 feet long

Old Hwy 139 Recommended Takeout (Class N/A, Mile 4.5)

Earlier guides mention Railroad Rapids downriver from Old Hwy 139 but my experience is that from Old 139 to the old railway bridge (now rails to trails) is a long tangle of alders that requires more dragging of your boat than floating. I would recommend taking out at Old 139 and continueing from the Putin near Hwy 139

Start of barely penetrable Alder thicket (Class N/A, Mile 4.5)

Hard going, with much dragging of your boat continues for much of the next 1.23 miles. No rapids exist between the end of the alder thicket and the Hwy 139 putin.

Landing (on left just after Hwy 139) (Class N/A, Mile 7.0)

The parking lot for the landing is not directly off of Hwy 139 .  It is off of National Forest Rd 2161, 130 feet east of Hwy 139.  To get to this landing take the trail for 180 feet out of the back of the parking lot towards the river.  

Castor Rapids (Class I, Mile 11.5)

162 feet long

Camp Dock Rapids (Class II, Mile 12.3)

248 feet long.      A long-hike(2.3 miles), emergency exit could be made from the camp dock (45.761476, -88.642352  on right after this rapids.  The trail leads to a camp then then another camp then to Jaquet Rd. and Forest Rd 2162. Turn right on 2162 and keep walking to town of Newald if necessary. 

Deerhead Rapids (Class II, Mile 12.7)

300 feet long

McDougal Rapids (Class II+, Mile 12.9)

McDougal Rapids

McDougal Rapids
Photo by John taken 05/26/13 @ 143 cfs

Rapids are 1,963 feet long.  There is at least one major log pile requiring a 1,800 foot portage (on left) without trail, mostly through upland forest  

Permanent Log Pile in McDougal Rapids (Class N/A, Mile 13.0)

McDougal Rapids Log Pile Obstruction

McDougal Rapids Log Pile Obstruction
Photo by John taken 08/08/09 @ 57 cfs

Burnt Dam Rapids (Class II, Mile 15.5)

Burnt Dam Rapids

Burnt Dam Rapids
Photo by John taken 06/03/09 @ 117 cfs

Rapids are a long, tight stretch (2,138 feet) of 8 separate rocky runs.  Between the 4th and 5th run the river has been blocked by deadfalls for several years.  Portage around the blockage is on the right, without trail, and is wading, and picking your way through a slightly flowing swamp/rocky land area.   

Log Pile Across Burnt Dam Rapids (Class N/A, Mile 15.7)

Tree blocking Burnt Dam Rapids

Tree blocking Burnt Dam Rapids
Photo by John taken 05/26/13 @ 143 cfs

Carry around is a no-trail, 50-foot bushwhack on right 

Old Podunk Dam Site (Class N/A, Mile 17.4)

Podunk Dam in 1880

Podunk Dam in 1880
Photo by John taken 02/28/18

At high water swifts or rapids may delvelop here in constrictions left by leftover embankments from the dam (actually the embankment is an esker from the last glacier)

Suspension Bridge, Big Horn Hunting Club (Class N/A, Mile 19.4)

Typical Dead-fall encountered above and below suspension bridge

Typical Dead-fall encountered above and below suspension bridge
Photo by John taken 02/28/18

Above and below this bridge, the river is prone to deadfalls of large Silver Maple Trees which may block passage at some flows but the current is generally not swift

Cedar Rapids (Class II, Mile 20.7)

Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids
Photo by John taken 05/26/13 @ 143 cfs

332 feet long

NT Rapids (Class II, Mile 21.0)

NT Rapids

NT Rapids
Photo by John taken 07/09/15 @ 216 cfs

1,121 feet long. Ends at takeout on right just past NT bridge

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