This is named the "Four Falls Section" in honor of (what else) the four falls which are highlights of this run. You will encounter (in order): Bull Falls (more of a rapids, really), Eighteen Foot, Twelve Foot and Eight Foot Falls. Heights (in general) are exaggerated.
All falls are runnable at good water levels (about 250-400 cfs on the 'virtual gauge' for this reach, 500-800 cfs on the USGS gauge). At lower levels doing the full run would be a drag. Below the 'recommended minimum' (150 cfs on virtual gauge, 300 cfs on USGS gauge) it may be possible to drop a couple of the falls, but they will be bony 'boat abuse'. At high water the falls will develop some meaty holes.
Other than the four falls, there is almost nothing but flatwater on this reach, so it is highly advisable to take a good look at 12' and 8' Falls before shuttling and putting on for this run. (If you are not running the falls, you are essentially doing a flatwater trip with scenic portages.)
The take-out at 18-Foot Falls is accessible via 18-Foot Falls County Park. In appreciation for the facilities provided here (parking, bathrooms, campgrounds, etc), please be honest and pay the requested fee. (If I understand things correctly, paying one fee gets you legal access to as many different parks in Marinette County as you can visit in one day. Thus, if you might plan to look at and/or run the nearby "Big South Falls" section of the South Branch Pike, either before or after this run, one fee would cover both parks.)
Watch the following video guide to this run: https://youtu.be/FWQlNMZcN2k
A house on river left has a (rather rickety last time I was there) footbridge across the stream. (The property owner warns do not cross over on the footbridge.) Just beyond, the river drops down Bull Falls. Much more of a sliding rapids than a 'falls', you none-the-less probably want to scout this (river-right, unless permission is obtained from home-owner river-left). After the initial pitch, this dog-leg rapids twists to the left before hitting calmer water.
A steep sliding falls (not really 18'). There is access for this falls from a dirt/sand/gravel road. From the parking/cul-de-sac, it is about a 275 yard (~0.16 mile) walk on a stone ridge to get to the falls. While it is not particularly a difficult walk, neither is it ADA compliant (not handicapped accessible).
Any boaters wanting to do a 'park-and-huck' may shorten the walk back to their vehicle by paddling downriver (after running the falls) about 200 yards, taking out just as the river bends to the left. From the river-right shore, a very short climb upslope gets you back on the trail within a hundred yards of your vehicle. You can then drive back to Twelve-foot Falls County Park where you can carry up to huck 12' Falls and paddle down to 8' Falls before carrying back to your vehicle, catching three of the four falls without bothering with a shuttle!
The final of the four falls on this reach, again a sliding drop, again height overstated (it's more like 5'). While this is the shortest drop, it is also the widest (still not all that wide, though) and (more to the point) most uniform. As a result, at moderate or higher flows, the hole at it's base can be pretty aggressive! While it can be run most anywhere, flow generally 'pushes-through' the best just off the right shore. Running further left can result in being stopped and unintentionally surfed in the sucky crease!
Take out immediately below to carry back through the campgrounds to your vehicle.
For anyone interested or curious, there is nothing but flatwater (ok, perhaps very minor riffles) downstream from here until the next listed reach (which has only class I-II rapids).
A group of Hoofers from UW Madison Ran this section on 05/11/2014 at 170 CFS. The rapids are alright but the shallow flatwater section with rocks inbetween the rapids make this section a frustrating ordeal at this level. The rapids are not too conducive to begginner paddlers and its not worth the trouble for advanced if there are other better stuff running in the area.
There are two river wide strainer just before 12' falls but can easily be walked around.
*Note: This is a 'virtual gauge'.
The USGS gauge on the (main) Pike River is very shortly downstream of the confluence of the North and South branches of the Pike. They are relatively similar in size, so (for simplicity) we are just taking half the USGS gauge reading as flow in each branch. Obviously, at the put-in for the upper reaches, flow will actually be much less.
The nature of the river (generally good depth in flatwater, and generally well constricted in the drops) allows paddling at fairly low levels (well below the listed minimum). At all levels below the listed minimum (and even a bit above it) the first drop ("Bull Falls") will be scrapey, and not recommended. The three main drops are probably runnable lower than the listed minimum (150 cfs), so some boaters may consider just shuttling up to (and carrying in to) 'Eighteen Foot Falls' at levels from maybe 100 - 200 cfs.
Levels around 330 cfs (660 on the USGS gauge) may be 'optimum'.
The maximum is set at 400 cfs (on the virtual gauge, 800 cfs on the USGS gauge), because somewhere above that level, holes at the base of the falls will become quite aggressive. While it still may be possible to run the falls above this level, expect a likelihood of some epic surfs or swims. Have someone with a throw rope at the base of each falls. Interestingly, the last and shortest falls is most likely to be the most 'keepy' at moderate-to-high flows.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Bottom of 18ft Falls
Adrian runs 18' Falls
Eight-foot falls, runnable even at low flow!
18' Falls, from below
N.Br.Pike: Four Falls
12 Foot Falls
Twelve Foot Falls
Rob @ 18' Falls
Don @ 18' Falls
Eighteen Foot Falls
WI, Pike, Bull Falls
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