Escanaba, M.Br. - D) Cataract Basin Dam to powerhouse (0.9 miles)


Escanaba, M.Br., Michigan, US

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D) Cataract Basin Dam to powerhouse (0.9 miles)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 0.9 Miles
Max Gradient 67 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
MIDDLE BRANCH ESCANABA RIVER NR PRINCETON, MI
usgs-04058100 500 - 1000 cfs III-IV 00h52m 366 cfs (too low)
Best levels uncertain. Please add a comment or report. Gauge (210 sq.mi. drainage) is downstream and includes flow in bypass (through powerhouse). Flow in this reach will be considerably less.
MIDDLE BRANCH ESCANABA RIVER AT HUMBOLDT, MI
usgs-04057800 230 - 1000 cfs III-IV 00h52m 87.4 cfs (too low)
Best flows uncertain. Please help us out with a comment or report. Gauge is well upstream and is only an indicator/predictor of possible available flows.


River Description

Since the 1929 construction of a splash dam and hydroplant at this location, there hasn't been much of a cataract at Cataract. When the flow exceeds the capacity of the penstock, the source of the name becomes evident. Much of the gradient in this brief reach is contained within the first 200 yards downstream of the dam in a series of three interesting drops. These will only contain runnable flow when water in the area is relatively high.

Exiting the river left put-in eddy directly below the dam, a low ledge parallel to the main flow drops into the entrance to a narrow "S" drop between rock walls. There is a brief bit of lower grade water followed by a 45 degree flume of 6-8' with a potentially aggressive hydraulic at the base. Shortly below this lies a broad sliding drop of about 8'. Moving water and light boulderbed follow for about a quarter mile before the gradient picks up again for some fun class II-III boulderbed with a few low ledges. Paddle past the powerplant and take-out at the boat landing river right.

UPPCO encourages recreational usage of their lands and has created a park like setting here. On Hwy 35 NW of Gwinn or S of Ishpeming, look for a sign that reads "Escanaba River Access". A mile or so down this road is a 'Y' branch with pictorial signposts indicating which direction for the dam (put-in) and canoe launch (take-out). From the dam parking/picnic area, the first three drops may be scouted by crossing the dam and walking along river left.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-14 15:15:05

Rapid Descriptions

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