This is a wonderful, fairly continuous stretch. At low to moderate flows, it may be suitable for novice paddlers. At higher flows, it may be best reserved for aggressive intermediate-to-advanced paddlers (with appropriate caution and safety). There are no significant (named) drops which stand out, but the whole section is a rush if you catch it at high water! Due to fast current, narrow and winding stream, small to non-existent eddies, and high potential for strainers, the subjective rating of this section (at high water) is somewhat higher than the actual rapids would otherwise merit. (That is, the rapids still only rate class II-III, but you better have class III-IV skills and safety awareness.)
From CR553, there is at least 1.5 miles of fairly consistent gradient at 114 FPM before things peter out for the flat-but-flowing paddle to the take-out. If the dirt road at the take-out is passable, it is possible to drive upstream to its cul-de-sac, thus cutting out most of the flatwater. At present there is a tree in the river and bright plastic tape tied around tree trunks at this point on the river, providing excellent markers for this spot. The parking is a short carry up a good path from the river.
Many boaters will combine this reach with a run on the (more challenging) upper. See Upper Carp for description of that reach.
Ran this stretch from Rippling River Resort (too many strainers upstream to put-in higher) to the cul-de-sac mentioned above on May 2, 2019. The level was 221 cfs on the Middle Branch of the Escanaba at Humboldt. Our friends hiked to scout the entire stretch the day before along the trail on river left. The hike takes about an hour or two. Highly recommended due to the potential for strainers and the shortage of eddies. Super fun short stretch. Easy to run multiple laps. Short shuttle. The current was fast at this level, requiring quick moves. The river starts out easier and builds to the end. Completely agree with the description of Cl II-III rapids requiring Cl III/IV moves to avoid strainers. I would not recommend this level for novices. This is a very narrow, small stream but big fun, just be sure to scout for strainers first.
Paddled this today for the first time. It was a lot of fun! I'm fairly new to whitewater though I've been paddling most of my life. This section challenged me. The water was relatively low too. I can't imagine this at high water; it would be sick!
There were several river-wide strainers (trees) that I had to portage around which required eddy turns to avoid them. Also I'd recommend pulling out of the river when you reach the mountain bike bridge. There's not much more excitement downstream from there and there are a couple of portages required; I just don't think the river action is worth the portages. Unless Lake Superior is making good waves; then it may be worth it. Enjoy; it's a lot of fun and beautiful scenery if you have time to look between strokes.
Flow is moderated by dams upstream of run thus increasing the window of runnability slightly.
Gauging is visual from CR553 bridge. If it looks like enough water to float your boat here, the run should be fine. At high flows, this run will be a real hands-full. With low-to-moderate flow the run is much more forgiving. Many boaters will do the lower as a continuation of the upper run. While this lower section is much easier (lacking any big falls as the upper section has), the two sections have similar recommended flows.
Permits are not required for this reach.
While it is certainly possible to paddle all the way out to Lake Superior, most boaters will have their fill of the flatwater which follows the end of the gradient on this run, and will prefer to take out well before that point. Therefore, it is advised to park a good distance upstream on a dirt/sand road at the take-out (parking where you can conveniently allow traffic, unlikely though it would be, to get past you) thus cutting off up to a half mile or so of flat water.
The following map shows and uses a 'road' which parallels the entire 'lower' run (on river left). It is highly unlikely that you will be able (or would choose to attempt) to get between put-in and take-out on that route. It would be impassible with snow in the early season, and is likely to require high-clearance 4x4 virtually any other time the river is runnable. More likely, you will use major roads, (Hwy.28/41 and CR554). And (at least as much to the point), most boaters will combine the two sections as one full run, continuing on CR554 to the put-in for the 'upper' run (see the 'Directions' tab there for details on that part of the shuttle).
Todd Leigh, Karen Frank, MI Eric Jackson at campground put-in, 221 cfs
Jim McHale ducks two trees and boofs two on the Lower Carp, 221 cfs
Karen Frank below the Island on the Lower Carp in Marquette, 221 cfs
Jim McHale and Karen Frank on the Lower Carp river in Marquette at 221 cfs.
MI Eric Jackson paddles under two and over two well covered strainers at 221 cfs
Carp (Mqt) Flood Damage 2
Carp (Mqt) Flood Damage 1
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