Red - C) Lower Red Lake Dam to CTH.A (4.3 miles)


Red, Wisconsin, US

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C) Lower Red Lake Dam to CTH.A (4.3 miles) (Lower Red)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (varies with level)
Length 4.3 Miles
Avg. Gradient 11 fpm
Max Gradient 20 fpm

Monastery Falls (Monastery in Background)


Monastery Falls (Monastery in Background)
Photo by Tom O'Keefe taken -68400

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
RED RIVER AT MORGAN ROAD NEAR MORGAN, WI
usgs-04077630 100 - 1000 cfs I-II(III) 12d08h07m 151 cfs (running)
Low to moderate flow. Gauge (114 sq.mi drainage) is 7.7 miles upriver with two dams in between. Dams operate 'flow of river', so should fairly accurately reflect flow in this reach.


River Description

(Our thanks to Mark Mastalski for his fine description of this run.)

This is one of the classic beginner/intermediate rivers in Wisconsin.

About 1/4 mile below the put-in at the dam, the river will swing hard to the left and you will see a house on the river right. This is the first drop. Typically there is no need to scout; Simply stay slightly left-of-center and punch through a frothy hole. This ledge pourover is infamous for being sticky at lower levels and I've see many a paddler get windowshaded while trying to sidesurf. Outflow current is strong and the water is deep enough to allow for some vertical moves (tail squirts, bow stalls, etc).

The next mile or so contains a bit of additional class I-II fun water. One thing to check out is a large rock wall on river left, which is a great place to seal launch into the river at higher flows. You will come to a narrowing which is actually a rocky island splitting the flow, with the majority of the flow straight ahead (the left of the island). This is the site of a sweet double-drop. Depending on the release levels, there can be good front surfs, side-surfs, and spins possible on each of the waves. (You must have good control to keep in the area of the upper wave, however.) The lower wave has a deep pool, and good eddies, as it is backed up by a ring of rock diverting most of the flow to the left.

Below these two ledge/waves the river twists left and then back to the right and you have come to Monastery Falls, class III(IV). (Note: on the topos, this is marked as Freeman Falls, though I've never heard anyone use that name. Some refer to it as 'Alexian' or 'Novitiate', all referring to the former Alexian Novitiate (Monastery) on river left.) Scout on river right. (Avoid going ashore anywhere on the left bank, as it is private property, and has been the site of many skirmishes over trespass through the years.)

This is a terrific drop which may be intimidating to first-timers. The river gets squeezed down to a five foot slot with a 'launch rock' in the center. A meaty hole develops at nearly all levels, so a good 'punch' is required. (I once witnessed a buddy in a WaveSport 'Z' get sucked backwards into it and disappear in the hole, only to be spit out for a swim; quite exciting!) Some gnarly water follows as it drops down to another squeeze and powerful hole develops. Best route is left center and punch through the hole. There is pretty much no consequence as it ends in a humongous pool (virtually a lake). The bottom hole can provide great play, though it may be intimidating to novice boaters. One paddler was windowshaded five times before finally exiting upside-down, still in his boat. A common change-of-pace 'game' during warm weather releases is to bring inflatable 'pool toys' to run this drop and/or play the bottom hole.

Leaving the pool below Monastery, there are a few good rocky outcroppings and boulderbed rock-dodge rapids before the river returns to flatwater again. The next exciting drop is Ziemer's Falls, class II+(III). (Note: on the topos, this is marked as Gilmer Falls, though I've never heard anyone use that name.) The river will turn left, then right, down a small sloping ledge. Many families swim in this area, bodily sliding down the first falls, or taking a 'hydro-massage' in its base. You may wish to get out in the huge river-left eddy to scout, though confident boaters can eddy-hop and boat-scout their way (don't hit any kids!). At good release levels, this initial ledge/hole is fine for surfs and spins, though it can get steep and 'squirrely'. A short pool leads to the right and spills across shallow bedrock. A few minor wave/holes may exist here. The flow then necks-down between walls of rock, and heads straight toward a large hump of rock which divides the bottom of the drop, providing two routes to finish this drop. Boaters may catch an eddy on river left, then paddle into the current and follow the flow down a jumbled chute river-left. Or, you can ferry across current and hit the flow of water on river-right. At low levels rocks may be an issue -- stay as close to the right wall as possible. I once had the excitement of watching my brother attempt this route. He flipped and I heard his helmet bouncing off the rocks.

While most boaters take out at Ziemer's, there are a couple additional worthwhile rapids downstream. There is (or at least was . . . it's years since I've been there) a boater's landing about a half-mile further down which adds a simple drop ('Little Bull Falls' on the topos) with some good depth for squirt moves.

You can also continue about another 1.5 miles to the little burg of Red River, where three drops in quick succession can provide some interesting entertainment. (These are not marked on the topos.) This area may be somewhat problematic for legal access, since it may be posted and fenced. (Again, it's been years since I've been there, but it is worth checking out at least once if you have time and have never seen these drops.) The second of these is rather like a smaller, narrower version of second drop on the Peshtigo, while the last drop (just above the bridge) offers playboaters vertical rock smears and cartwheels down a ledge parallel to the current.

The following video follows NorthEast Wisconsin Paddlers (NEWP) as they work their way down each of the drops on this run.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-11-11 19:38:09

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-7.7USGS gaugeN/A
0.4First LedgeIIPlayspot
1.2Double DropIIPlayspot Photo
1.3Monastey FallsIII+Waterfall Playspot
2.1Ziemer's FallsII+Playspot Photo
2.6Little Bull FallsIPlayspot
4.4Final dropsII+Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

USGS gauge (Class N/A, Mile -7.7)

Gauge is 7.66 miles upstream. Two dams intervene, but are supposed to be operating at 'run of river'. Thus, flow from gauge should fairly well reflect water in the reach. However, it will be subject to certain 'variations'.



First Ledge (Class II, Mile 0.4)

About 1/4 mile below the put-in at the dam, the river will swing hard to the left and you will see a house on the river right. This is the first drop. Typically there is no need to scout. Simply stay slightly left-of-center and punch through a frothy hole.

This ledge/pourover is infamous for being sticky at lower levels and I've see many a paddler get windowshaded while trying to sidesurf. Outflow current is strong and the water is deep enough to allow for some vertical moves (bow stalls, stern squirts, etc).



Double Drop (Class II, Mile 1.2)

Double-drop

Double-drop
Photo of Finn Ryan by C.J. Arnold taken 05/14/05 @ 200+

The mile or so between the first ledge and the next drop contains a bit of additional class I-II fun water. One thing to check out is a large rock wall on river left, which is a great place to seal launch into the river at higher flows.

You will come to a narrowing which is actually a rocky island splitting the flow, with the majority of the flow straight ahead (the left of the island). This is the site of a sweet double-drop. Depending on the release levels, there can be good front surfs, side-surfs, and spins possible on each of the waves. (You must have good control to keep in the area of the upper wave, however.) The lower wave has a deep pool, and good eddies, as it is backed up by a ring of rock diverting most of the flow to the left.



Monastey Falls (Class III+, Mile 1.3)

Below these two ledge/waves the river twists left and then back to the right and you have come to Monastery Falls, class III(IV).

(Note: on the topos, this is marked as Freeman Falls, though I've never heard anyone use that name. Some refer to it as 'Alexian' or 'Novitiate', all referring to the former Alexian Novitiate (Monastery) on river left.)

Scout on river right. (Avoid going ashore anywhere on the left bank, as it is private property, and has been the site of many skirmishes over trespass through the years.) This is a terrific drop which may be intimidating to first-timers. The river gets squeezed down to a five foot slot with a 'launch rock' in the center. A meaty hole develops at nearly all levels, so a good 'punch' is required. (I once witnessed a buddy in a WaveSport 'Z' get sucked backwards into it and disappear in the hole, only to be spit out for a swim; quite exciting!) Some gnarly water follows as it drops down to another squeeze and powerful hole develops. Best route is left center and punch through the hole. There is pretty much no consequence as it ends in a humongous pool (virtually a lake).

The bottom hole can provide great play, though it may be intimidating to novice boaters. One paddler was windowshaded five times before finally exiting upside-down, still in his boat. A common change-of-pace 'game' during warm weather releases is to bring inflatable 'pool toys' to run this drop and/or play the bottom hole.



Ziemer's Falls (Class II+, Mile 2.1)

Entrance Wave at Ziemer's

Entrance Wave at Ziemer's
Photo of C.J. Arnold by Finn Ryan taken 05/14/05 @ 200+

Leaving the pool below Monastery, there are a few good rocky outcroppings and boulderbed rock-dodge rapids before the river returns to flatwater again. The next exciting drop is Ziemer's Falls, class II+(III).

(Note: on the topos, this is marked as Gilmer Falls, though I've never heard anyone use that name.)

The river will turn left, then right, down a small sloping ledge. Many families swim in this area, bodily sliding down the first falls, or taking a 'hydro-massage' in its base. You may wish to get out in the huge river-left eddy to scout, though confident boaters can eddy-hop and boat-scout their way (don't hit any kids!).

At good release levels, this initial ledge/hole is fine for surfs and spins, though it can get steep and 'squirrely'. A short pool leads to the right and spills across shallow bedrock. A few minor wave/holes may exist here. The flow then necks-down between walls of rock, and heads straight toward a large hump of rock which divides the bottom of the drop, providing two routes to finish this drop. Boaters may catch an eddy on river left, then paddle into the current and follow the flow down a jumbled chute river-left. Or, you can ferry across current and hit the flow of water on river-right. At low levels rocks may be an issue -- stay as close to the right wall as possible.

Most trips (most boaters) take out here, for a short easy shuttle. However, the river has more to offer. If you have never done so, I do recommend at least one time running the rest of the reach as described here, to the (unincorporated) town of Red River.



Little Bull Falls (Class I, Mile 2.6)

Little Bull Falls is a simple rapids with some good depth for squirt moves. Not far downstream a vacant lot was purchased years back to assure boater access (when the landing at Ziemer's was in jeopardy, and vandalism of shuttle vehicles was common for a while).



Final drops (Class II+, Mile 4.4)

Three drops in quick succession can provide some interesting entertainment. (These are not marked on the topos.) This area may be somewhat problematic for legal access, since it may be posted and fenced. (Again, it's been years since I've been there, but it is worth checking out at least once if you have time and have never seen these drops.) The second of these is rather like a smaller, narrower version of second drop on the Peshtigo, while the last drop (just above the bridge) offers playboaters vertical rock smears and cartwheels down a ledge parallel to the current.




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