Black (Jackson Co.) - E) Hatfield Dam to Power Plant (3.2 miles)


Black (Jackson Co.), Wisconsin, US

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E) Hatfield Dam to Power Plant (3.2 miles)

Usual Difficulty II-III(IV) (varies with level)
Length 3.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm
Max Gradient 33 fpm

WI, Black River, Surf Wave


WI, Black River, Surf Wave
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 01/01/96

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Black at Hatfield
virtual-11094 240 - 3500 cfs II(III) 00h47m ~ 0 cfs (too low)
Possibly E.L.F. (Extreme Low Flow) runs of 'creeky' quarter-mile run below dam. VirtGauge approximates flow below dam as ~1.722296*Neillsville minus powerplant capacity. For actual flows: http://www.weather.gov/arx/hatfield_arbutus_monitor


River Description

See the 'Flows' tab for details of the present release agreement.

Also, as many boaters have noted, our 'virtual gauge' (as cited above) is often of rather little merit. The most relevant info is available via some extraction and interpolation of data from a NOAA gauge associated with the powerplant, which we can embed here:
.
We are told if you subtract 700-1200 from the 'Hatfield Hydro Plant' reading, that will approximate the flow in the natural river channel.


When the full reach is runnable, it can provide some rare "big water play" in Wisconsin.

This may be done as either a 'park-and-play' at the put-in (where the best play waves are) or as the listed three mile run from the dam to the powerplant. The run may be extended to a landing at Hall's Creek to add three more minor drops (though most whitewater boaters forgo the added flatwater this necessitates).

The usual run (at moderate to high flows) starts about a quarter-mile below the dam (the first point reached from the carry-in from normal roadside boater parking). Between the dam and this point lie some serious drops which contains near inescapable boiling cauldrons at moderate to high flows (class IV-V+).

Note: As long as one puts in below this upper stretch, there no rapids which rise above a class II-III rating.

In times of lower flow (and during the scheduled releases) the drops from the dam to the carry-in pool are runnable, and may provide some class III-IV entertainment. In fact, according to Jeff Polzin: "the section immediately below the dam is full of fun class 2 drops at 75 to 150 cfs ... there are a couple of easy class 3 drops (at the K bridge and at the second zag of the "Z" approximately 2 miles downstream from the dam)"

Check out the following video of the upper stretch (from the dam to the 'Campground Wave':

Also at times of lower flow (I.E., when this reach is 'dewatered' due to the power plant diverting all the flow), boaters may wish to check out the reach from Below the hydroplant to Hall's Creek landing, as all water which had been diverted from the upper reach will now be returned to the riverbed for these final two or three drops. Runnability will, of course, depend upon power generation schedules.

The following YouTube video (from 'MnktoDave') includes footage of this section of river (along with others).


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-05-16 01:39:02

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Drainage at Hatfield Dam: 1290 sq.mi.N/A
0.6Island DropIIPlayspot
2.3minor rapids #1IIPlayspot
2.8minor rapids #2IIPlayspot
3.1Powerhouse RapidsIIPlayspot

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage at Hatfield Dam: 1290 sq.mi. (Class N/A)

Drainage area at the Hatfield Dam is approximately 1290 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).



Island Drop (Class II, Mile 0.6)

Downstream of the put-in waves, downstream of the highway bridge, an island splits the flow. The main channel is to the right, and the flow drops across a bedrock intrusion. At some flows a fine surf can be had here.



minor rapids #1 (Class II, Mile 2.3)

Rocky intrusion creates minor play.



minor rapids #2 (Class II, Mile 2.8)

A rocky outcropping splits the flow and allows some minor play.



Powerhouse Rapids (Class II, Mile 3.1)

A final boulder and bedrock intrusion allows minor play (though most folks don't bother, since they've played out the upper stuff).




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September 2012

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Black River Releases
11:00 am -2:00 pm cst
Release flow determined by the previous 5 day average.400-200 cfs

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Events
Black River Releases Jackson County,WI runs 10/18/02 - 09/08/12
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Associated Projects

  • Black River (WI)
    The Hatfield Project on the Black River diverts flow from the river natural channel. AW advocates for restored recreational opportunities and riparian protection.