The full listed section would consist of two sections of major gradient, with otherwise flat water and light rapids. From Rte 169, there is 1.5 miles of flatwater before the beginning of the Red Granite falls sequence. After Red Granite, there is again only light rapids and flat water down to Copper Falls. Access to Copper Falls (being anywhere within its canyon) is restricted. Thus, most paddlers will be content to do Red Granite as a park-and-huck/park-and-play, followed (optionally) by driving down to the park to hike and look at Copper Falls, the canyon, and Brownstone Falls. Thus, we have changed the coordinates of the put-in and take-out to (respectively) the road which gives access to the base of the Red Granite sequence and the parking lot at Copper Falls.
Red Granite Falls consists of high angle slides and boulder bed, class IV in low water, class V at higher flows.
The 'access issues' referred to in the header/section-name refer only to the canyon below Copper Falls (28'), where access is prohibited by Copper Falls State Park. Attempts to run the final mile to Devil's Gate may result in conflict with rangers. Access to Devil's Gate footbridge (the first approved access point downstream of the falls) is via hiking trails in the park.
We are marking this location for reference and consistency with the full listed reach, though we sincerely doubt many (any?) boaters are likely to do the full run.
USGS lists a sampling site at this location showing drainage area of 105.5 square miles.
From Rte 169, you'll encounter 1.5 miles of flatwater before the beginning of the Red Granite falls sequence. Red Granite Falls consists of boulder bed interspersed with high angle slides, class IV in low water, class V at higher flows. Alternate put-in and/or pre-run scouting is available at this point by driving to the base of the drop and hiking up.
We have set the 'put-in' coordinates to the end of the park road from which you can access Red Granite Falls. Park here and hike upriver, scouting the drops as you go, then (if it looks good to you) run it down to (and take out near) where your vehicle is parked.
GET OUT HERE! (or before, at the parking lot)
Access into the canyon below Copper Falls (listed as 28' total drop) is prohibited by Copper Falls State Park. Attempts to run the final half-mile to Devil's Gate may result in conflict with rangers. Access to Devil's Gate footbridge (first approved access point downstream of the falls) is via hiking trails in the park. Copper Falls itself appears to be a fairly simple drop (as falls go). The canyon downstream (at moderate-to-high flows) appears it could be a major handful. Scouting is anything from awkward, to difficult, to impossible.
Yes, there are folks who have gotten into the canyon and made this run. The following video begins (I believe) with multiple runs of Wren Falls (the tributary of the Bad River which cascades over Brownstone Falls toward the end of the gorge and towards the end of this video), then progresses to the lead-in, Copper Falls, and the canyon below. WARNING: As mentioned in the comment, those with sensitive ears (or an aversion to any profanity) should stop the video before the final 10-15 seconds of video.
Immediately after a tight twist to the left, Tyler Forks cascades down Brownstone Falls and slams into the Bad. Major wrapping currents take place here at moderate-to-high flows. (Though appear amazingly mild in the video above.)
This is the exit-point for those who would snag a bandit-run the gorge, and it is the first legal entry point to the river below the park headquarters.
Here is a video that shows the bad river starting around 2:35 into the video. The canyon section has two rapids with a 3-4 foot ledge hole at the end of the first rapid that could be problematic with too much water. Once you drop into the canyon you are committed to running everything blind, because you can't really scout it from the top. Warning for people with children, there is a little swearing in the last ten second of the video. https://youtu.be/3gtpS9sdCkA
This is a really fun hike and huck section. I have run the section about 10 times and have not had any issues with the park (just make sure to buy a pass). I usaully take out after the last drop and hike back out. We hike about a mile into the red granite section via the park trail. Can run laps on a few fun class III-IV (all IV at high water). I have not run the first drop which is a fun looking slide due to old rebar that you can only see at low water. This run goes with a little bit of rain and the gauge is pretty accurate for being so far down stream. John LaGow
Gauge is located about fifteen miles downriver. Actual flow for this reach is perhaps 25-30% of gauge, assuming tribs feed proportionate to size.
Desirable flows for last mile are probably lower than for the upper portion of run. Copper Falls is runnable at 500 cfs but for Red Granite Falls more water (800 cfs?) is preferable.
Gauge/flow analysis (based on most recent 50 years of data)
Drainage area at gauge: 597 sq.mi.
All time minimum flow: 27 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 120 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 1,360 cfs
All time maximum flow: 22,000 cfs
10/90 ratio: 11.3 ('flashy-ness': under 3 is fairly steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Average runnable days per year: 97
Offseason ('Ice') correlations:
3.00' = 322cfs
3.50' = 537cfs
4.00' = 780cfs
4.55' = 1090cfs
5.30' = 1570cfs
6.60' = 2520cfs
7.00' = 2850cfs
7.19' = 3000cfs
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have reset the put-in and take-out coordinates to reflect that most folks will be paddling Red Granite falls as a 'park and huck', and then (possibly) driving to the main parking to walk trails to look at Copper Falls, the Bad River Canyon, and Brownstone Falls.
Boof on Crack Root
Birth Canal eddy
Entrance to the Birth Canal
Scouting the Birth Canal
Red Granite Falls
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