Commonly referred to as Section III of the Wolf, this 10.3 mile stretch includes several Class II+ (III) rapids and some long flatwater stretches. With most of the river bank under state ownership (until the end of the run), you get the feeling of paddling in a wilderness setting.
The full run begins at Langlade, however paddlers often run an abbreviated section (called "Short III") by putting in at the DNR landing off of County Highway M. This put-in is below Twenty-Day Rapid and above Boy Scout, making for a 3.9 mile trip catching the three main drops. In either case, the run finishes immediately around the bend after Gilmore's Mistake.
Please note: this access point is privately owned by Buettner's Wild Wolf Inn. Don't drive your car down to the take-out point. Carry your boat to the boater's parking lot. Don't let your dog run around unleashed. Spend a few dollars at the bar and restaurant to thank the owners for access. Also be aware that immediately downstream of this take-out lies the county line. Proceeding downstream is trespassing within the Menominee Nation, and can be done only after paying a 'trespass fee' and getting a wrist-band to boat this next stretch of the river.
An obvious horizon line as the river narrows signals Twenty-Day Rapid, a short but relatively steep pitched class II. It is followed by three miles of flatwater before you reach Boy Scout Rapid. Midway through this flatwater you will come across the landing which is the put-in for "Short III".
Most paddlers forego the aforementioned distance and rapids and use this access point to catch just the final 3.9 miles containing the three best rapids on the run (often called "Short Section III" or just "Short 3").
A footbridge signals Boy Scout Rapid (named for the Scout camp on river left). Class II rapids lead to a second footbridge, which is the heart of this half-mile, somewhat 'technical', boulder-garden rapid. In high water, Boy Scout rapid becomes pushy. Deaths have occurred there, and the rocks under the second footbridge have caused foot-pins. (Float with your feet as near the surface as possible! Do not try to stand in moving water!) With enough water, the rocks are all covered, and the rapids is far less technical.
A mile downstream you'll find Hansen's Rapid. A large eddy on river right, just below the entrance allows you to boat-scout the rapids. Just across from this eddy is a very consistent side-surfing wave often filled with boaters.
Each year this is one of the sites for the "Buttercup Series" of slalom races. This event can be great fun for participants and spectators, and can always use set-up and take-down volunteers. Participating in slalom boating is a great way to challenge yourself and improve skills, having to make moves to go through the gates, taking lines through the rapids that you would unlikely otherwise take!
Another 1.5 miles downstream lies Gilmore's Mistake, which can be scouted on the left. The gently sloping, bedrock shore (and its accessibility from the Wild Wolf Inn) makes this rapid the perfect place for spectators and park-and-play boaters.
The rapid starts with a narrowing with good playboating possibilities, followed by an interesting ledge/drop. Below the drop is a hole popular with many playboaters. Be aware that this is shallow and rocky at low levels. Face plants here usually mean bruises or blood (or both).
As you head around a left-hand-bend, a short bit of boulder-garden rapids and one final ledge/drop lead to the take out immediately on river left.
DO NOT PASS THIS TAKEOUT unless you have paid the 'trespass fee' and gotten a wristband to enter the Menominee Nation. (The sandy landing area lies literally right at the county line!) Tribal law provides that punishment for illegal trespass may include being fined, imprisoned, and/or impoundment of any and all gear used in committing the trespass (which could include not only your boating equipment, but also any vehicle(s) used to set shuttle for your illegal trespass!).
Gardner Dam Boy Scout Camp Access. Mid June through early August the camp is in Summer Camp Season. Please refrain from using the put in there during those weeks.
The minimum level given here (200 cfs) applies only to the more popular "short section 3" from the access point off Hwy M to Gilmore's Mistake. While the section may be run lower, it becomes scrapy in parts.
For the entire ('long section three') reach listed here, minimum should be considered 250 cfs with higher flows preferable.
The 'recommended maximum' (750 cfs) is meant only an indicator of 'high water'. There is virtually no level at which the river is 'unrunnable' (too high), and many experienced boaters will thrill to see it at these higer levels. However, levels above ~15"/~750 cfs will make the river much 'pushier' and generally make the rapids a step tougher (generally a solid class III). Some of the rapids will develop holes which beginners might best avoid.
Gauge Data Analysis (using data from 1966 through 2011)
Drainage area at gauge: 463 sq.mi.
Elevation at gauge: 1240 feet
Minimum mean daily flow during gauge period: 127 cfs (Aug.13, 2009)
Maximum mean daily flow during gauge period: 2420 cfs (April 26, 1996)
10% of time flow exceeds: 732 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 230 cfs
10/90 Ratio: 3.18
Average runnable days/year: 341 (93%) (obviously winter/ice diminishes this number)
The 10/90 of 3.18 confirms that this river has what would be considered relatively uniform flow (which is why it is runnable most of the year, and will sustain the rafting businesses in the area).
Permits are not required for this reach.
The 'automatically created' directions (bottom of this page) show directions for 'long 3' (full section). However, most whitewater boaters interested in the best rapids and least flatwater do 'short 3'. The first maps below provide detail for the shuttle for that shortened trip.
Shuttle Information (for the short run>: Length (each way): 3.1 miles, Estimated Time (each Way): 6 minutes
Clicking on "View Larger Map" will open a new browser window. When done, close it to return here. From this map you will be able to zoom in or out to determine logistics. You can click a link on that page to get driving directions (including drive-time and distance) from your location.
Flatwater- Between 20 Day & Boy Scouts Rapids
Put In @ Langlade
Boy Scout Rapids (lower)
Boy Scouts Rapid (2nd foot bridge)
Gilmore's Mistake (lower)
Gilmore's Mistake (Ned)
Hanson's (lower part)
Gilmore's Mistake (middle part)
Gilmore's Surf Wave
Surfing @ Hansen's
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