The Tyler Forks features boulderbed rapids. interspersed by sections of alder swamp, with several steep bedrock drops. Wren Falls (towards the end of the reach) may be one of the most scenic small falls in the state.
This reach begins with the "dells" of the Tyler Forks (local name unknown) which is reached by carrying upstream from the end of Moore Road. The river rapidly drops 40+' through a sequence which begins with fast class III feeding into a stepped ledge of 8'-10' and finishing with a fun drop through a rockwalled canyon/dells. This is the most technically challenging drop on this reach. Those who don't wish to run this should put-in at the Hwy 77 bridge as there is only flat water (and likely some deadfall/snags) between the bottom of this drop (at Moore Road) and the bridge.
From Hwy 77, the current picks up again through read-and-run boulderbed with one ledge of about 4'. After about a mile and three quarters, things start to slow down as the river enters a section of moving water through alder swamp. When the current starts picking up again, be aware that you are approaching Wren Falls. Wren is a rolled lip vertical of about 10'-12', dropping between vertical rock walls into a deep pool, a very beautiful site and great photo op. The falls approach is pretty straightforward, though you will want all the speed you can muster to launch and avoid the hole at the base. Below Wren there is about a half mile of class II followed by a short stretch of moving water to the Vogues Rd take-out.
The "dells" of the Tyler Forks (local name unknown) is reached by carrying about a quarter-mile upstream from the end of Moore Park Road. The river drops over 40' in about a quarter-mile through a sequence which begins with fast class III, feeding into a stepped ledge of 8-10 feet, and finishing with a fun drop through a small rockwalled canyon. This is the most challenging drop on this reach! (It may push into class IV territory at good flows!) Those who don't wish to run this drop should put-in at the Hwy 77 bridge, as there is only flat water between the bottom of this drop (at the end of Moore Road) and the bridge.
The following YouTube video (courtesy of 'edo0776') shows multiple runs through the dells:
You will park here and walk up for a look at (and possible run of) the dells. On the river from here down to Hwy.77, it is a full mile of low-gradient (no rapids!) moving water and meanders, with likely problems with deadfall and snags. (Possibly a mandatory portage or two? or more?) It may be a tough call whether to deal with that known and unknown, versus the time and hassle of taking out, securing boats in/on your vehicle(s), and driving down to Hwy.77 to 'restart' the rest of the trip from there.
Just prior to Hwy.77 there is a defunct Soo Line railroad (now likely multi-use trail). After passing under this and Hwy.77 you'll pass under powerlines. This is the alternate put-in, for those not running the upper 'dells', or those not paddling the mile of meanders in between.
USGS lists a sampling site this location citing drainage area of 38.2 square miles.
Immediately around the first bend, you'll encounter a fine ledge to start things out.
A quick zig-zag and minor lead-in waves bring you to a bigger ledge/slide, after which action quickly subsides to riffles and waves, then flat/flowing water for nearly 3/4ths-mile.
Coming round a bend, flatwater again turns to riffles and waves, signaling the approach to the next good gradient.
Much less than the first two drops, but a welcome back-to-back couple of ledge/wave/holes in an 'S'-turn, followed by more riffles and waves.
Just about the time you think the action is going to revert to too tame, you come around another zig-zag to find a sweet slide.
Not far downstream, the river 'zigs' left and down a quick chute, then 'zags' right down a second chute. Downstream, waves continue for a bit before once again subsiding to riffles and flat, moving water.
The action totally dies out as you reach a very sharp zig-zag, and Erickson Creek (very small trib) enters river-right. This is the sign that you are in for over a mile of flatwater meanders in swampy territory. (Sorry 'bout that.)
Likely to be virtually unnoticed, Javorsky Creek enters from river-left. If you do happen to notice, it's your sign that these swampy meanders are coming to an end. (Yay!)
A slight acceleration of current, and a slight right bend lead you into the next sweet chute, which could (at some flows) have a significant wave/hole. A brief pool ensues, quickly followed by a ledge/wave/hole, then (as the river twists to the right) another set of ledge/wave/holes (while twisting back left again) before action subsides for a bit.
As the river twists right, it trips across a couple ledges (or a quick rapids). Downstream, you again enter an area of looping meanders and flatwater. There will be occasional random shoals, riffles and rips, but no real rapids for about two miles.
Perhaps a welcome change (from flatwater, minor riffles and rips), a minor stretch of boulder bed begins here. (It may or may not actually form 'rapids'.)
A rocky outcropping on river-right (just after a tight left-hand horse-shoe bend) signals approach to more interesting action once again, just around the next (right-hand) bend!
When the current starts picking up again, you are approaching Wren Falls. Wren is a rolled lip vertical of about 10-12 feet, dropping between vertical rock walls into a deep pool, a very beautiful site and great photo op. The falls approach is pretty straightforward, though (at some flows) you will want all the speed you can muster to launch and avoid the hole at the base.
Following Wren Falls, the river twists tight right and then left, spilling across rocks and chutes as it goes.
A rock wall (river-right) signals a rocky chute with more large rock midstream below.
One final ledge/hole/chute, and it's all done. The remaining distance to Vogues Road is merely swiftwater. (If you can find a spot on the road up to Wren Falls which is wide enough to pull off and park, you may be able to cut off (some of) the final mile.
Ran 4/11/20 @ ~375cfs . Note the road down to PI wasn't fully plowed of snow which added another 1/4 mile to the hike up to the dells. Portage following right next to the river, RL up above the dells. There is a small eddy RL upstream of the main section, but there is some more narrow moving water that could add potential fun. The dells are great fun and provide a great beautiful intro to the run. The alders aren't that bad and about 20 min of boat-bush-pushing got us to the bridge. From here down to Wren there are a few sizable drops interspersed with long sections of flat/moving water. The lead in the Wren is pretty obvious and eddies were catchable on the fly RR. Note that there is a 12" log over the full lip over the falls. A real shame. This was a mandatory portage at this level, but at lower levels a maneuver may be possible RR under the log. Sketch. From here down to the TO is fun boogie, holes, and haystacks. There was no other mandatory portages and a low amount of wood as compared to other creeks in the Mellen area.
We ran this at about 240cfs on 4/24/15. The dells were a bit grungy, but fun. This can be a fun river to run if you avoid the over grown meanders, which will be the longest 1.3 miles that you ever paddle. Due to the matrix moves you will be endlessly repeating as you paddle though this overgrown section. The dells are worth the run, but definitely drive up to the alternate put-in afterwards. Wren Falls is fun as long as you use a well timed boof stroke. **Trying to pencil over the fall isn't a good idea.** The boil line is a ways out there(ten feet). Running the fall river left of center may lead you into the wall. The current near the wall, at this flow, is neutral to flushy, so if you find yourself here more than likely you'll have time to push off the wall, roll and paddle away.
Ran Tyler forks at around 170 CFS on 05/17/2014. The dells section is a very easy point and shoot class III with a slight technical line at the last slide to avoid the piton rock on the center of the channel. Eddy and take out just after to avoid two river wide strainers back to back.
Wren falls was a good III+ drop at this level. Setting up safety rope and few boaters to collect a possible yard sale is recommended because of minor recirculation.
The river was very bony below Wren falls and is not really worth the boat abuse. You can do multiple runs of Wren falls and take out here.
Ran Wren falls tonight at 70 cfs on the Tyler Forks gauge. This is a good, safe level for the falls.
There is now a gauge on the Tyler Forks! Not the preferred stream to have streamflow (Brunsweiler or Upper Bad would have been better) but we will now know when Wren Falls is running and it should be very useful for the Potato as well and may provide better info for the Upper Bad than the gauge way up near the Lake. The USGS station number is 04026561, located downstream of Hwy 169 with a drainage area of 70.5 sq mi.
2 months ago
by Dan Varick
Visual at Moore Park (in addition to using the gauge reading).
Previous to the gauge on this river, the only active USGS gauge on this watershed was well downstream on the Bad River, thus is not very reliable for water levels in this reach. Specifically (obviously) this reach flows sooner than the downstream gauge would rise to a level resulting in the virtual gauge showing as 'boatable'. Similarly, this reach will fall to unboatable levels well before the downstream gauge falls enough to flag this reach as unboatable.
The listed "recommended minimum" is based off of the '10% flow' (which tends to be a good starting point to approximate the runnability of many 'upper Midwest' whitewater streams). The listed "recommended maximum" is a 'guesstimation' based solely upon streams of similar sized and character. As such, both of these values are highly tentative. We encourage anyone who has run this river, and who can provide info ('data points') on gauge readings versus runnability, to do so. (Please use the "Add a comment" button which should appear at bottom of main page for all registered, logged-in users.)
Permits are not required for this reach.
The Tyler Forks is located about 8 miles east of Mellen on Hwy 77. About 0.8 miles before (west of) the Hwy 77 bridge is Moore Park Rd. This is not signed but is the only road south this close to the bridge. Drive down Moore Park Road for about a mile and a half to the end and hike up the hill to the right for the "dells".
To get to the take-out, return to Hwy 77 and turn right. Cross the bridge over the Tyler Forks and in 1.5 miles, look for Casey Sag Road. Turn left on Casey Sag Road, staying on the main road, bearing to the left after about five miles as the road becomes Sullivan Rd and (after another two miles) Vogues Rd. Once you reach Vogues Rd, it is only another quarter mile to the river. These are logging roads and for the most part don't have signs. High clearance and/or 4WD may be necessary anytime that snow and/or mud may be encountered.
Tony Catania surfacing
Tony Catania at the lip of Wren
Tony Catania lining up for a boof
Crest of Balsam Falls
Upper walled in section
Looking down at corner above dells
Looking down dells
Corner above dells
Tyler Forks Dells
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