Red - A) River Road to Morgan Rd. 8.5 miles) ** ACCESS ISSUES **

Red, Wisconsin, US


A) River Road to Morgan Rd. 8.5 miles) ** ACCESS ISSUES ** (Upper Red)

Usual Difficulty I-III(IV) (for normal flows)
Length 8.5 Miles
Avg. Gradient 15 fpm
Max Gradient 26 fpm

Suzy's Falls

Suzy's Falls
Photo of Tom O'Keefe by Steve taken 2147483647 @ 525 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04077630 200 - 600 cfs I-III(IV) 12d07h33m 151 cfs (too low)

River Description

*************  NOTICE!  **************************
The majority of this reach lies within tribal lands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. The current status of Tribal Law disallows access to any waters from any tribal lands (by any other than tribal members). This means this section should be considered OFF LIMITS until or unless arrangements and agreements are otherwise worked out. Exactly as with the Menomonee Tribe, punishment (if you are caught) can include not only a fine and/or imprisonment, but may also involve confiscation of all material items used in commission of the trespass. This could include not only your boat and gear, but the vehicles you used for the shuttle!

In the past there has been the recommendation that (before paddling this reach) paddlers should secure permission from one of the tribal conservation officers (Joseph Miller or James Davids, who can be reached during business hours at 715-793-4809). However, reports are that all such requests are currently being denied.


The Upper Red was perhaps one of the favorite central Wisconsin spring time runs. This section is very "pool/drop", with drops coming where the river cuts over splines of bedrock. The majority of the drops are short and fairly steep, with plenty of recovery room in the pools below.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-01-16 20:58:40

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Put-in: River Road / Besau's BridgeN/A
1.2Boulder ChokeN/AWaterfall
3.1Suzie's FallsIVWaterfall
3.3Confluence W.Br.RedN/A
4.2River Road landingN/AAccess
4.3Gauge (114 sq.mi.)N/A
4.5First Island FallsIIIPhoto
5.3Second Island (Bridge) FallsIII
6.1Farm DamIIPlayspot

Rapid Descriptions

Put-in: River Road / Besau's Bridge (Class N/A)

A small shoals at the put-in is an onsite indicator of the river level. If these look scrapy, the rest of the run will also be scrapy. The initial mile+ of the run is a meandering float through the forest, interspersed with occasional tame (class I-II) rapids.

Boulder Choke (Class N/A, Mile 1.2)

Look for a pooling and a narrow drop between boulders. At times in the past, trees have lodged against the boulders, raising the height of the drop to about 4', and may sometimes obstruct the channel. At high flows, there is a hole which may backender boats here. Below, there is a good recovery area and then an "S" drop (left then right) which can have a very low footbridge in the outflow. The footbridge is not anchored well so at times, higher flows will push this aside to allow passage. Use eddies and exercise caution here. A flatwater section follows.

Suzie's Falls (Class IV, Mile 3.1)

A footbridge spans the river, and a house sits on river-left. This is the signal to get out river-right to scout Suzie's Falls. (Stay off the footbridge and the private property on river-left.)

This is almost certainly the most difficult drop on the upper run. At high flows, clearance under the footbridge will be slim (or non-existent!) Immediately after the bridge, the river jumps off a short (~3') ledge into a bit of a boil, and is immediately diverted 90-degrees to the left, dropping 15' or so over a wide dome of bedrock. At the base, it encounters humps of bedrock which divert it nearly 90-degrees to the right, dropping across another bit of a ledge. High flows will create some interesting holes and waves, making this steep pitch a bit intimidating. The crux move here is running the top ledge and hole in control, as a flip there will likely mean lost skin at the very least. There is a pool below to pick up the pieces, if necessary.

Confluence W.Br.Red (Class N/A, Mile 3.3)

We do have a listing for this tributary, but (like the Upper Red) it is 'off-limits'. It does have a few fine bits of gradient, but most are choked with wood (being a smaller stream). The final gradient (more-or-less the parallel to Suzie's falls) lies about a mile upstream on it.

River Road landing (Class N/A, Mile 4.2)

This site may be used for a shorter run (about 4 miles), especially for those folks that know they do not wish to run Suzy's. This landing is the first obvious roadside put-in (as in maybe 10' away) on River Road. Parking space is limited here, so please leave as few vehicles as possible and pull off the pavement if you can.

Some boaters also used to access the river just above Suzy's, but that involves crossing private property. There have been confrontations in the past so securing permission from the landholder would be essential before using an access point between the River Road landing and the River Road bridge.

Gauge (114 sq.mi.) (Class N/A, Mile 4.3)

USGS gauge (114 square mile drainage)

First Island Falls (Class III, Mile 4.5)

First Island, Left Channel

First Island, Left Channel
Photo of Steve by Tom O'Keefe taken 2147483647 @ 525 cfs

A split in the river signals First Island. The usual line is to the right of the island, where the river enters some light rapids, then turns to the left and drops about 4' down a moderately steep flume, leading to some easy rapids in the run-out.

The left channel also begins with light rapids but the final drop of 4'-5' is a boulder jumble which should be scouted before running. The usual line here is a boof off a rock right-of-center. This channel is prone to catching deadwood, so a strainer may be present here.

Second Island (Bridge) Falls (Class III, Mile 5.3)

There are several channels here, but the smaller center ones are almost always log choked. At lower flows, turn hard to the right above the island with the cabin to enter the furthest-right channel. This quickly turns hard to the left and drops down a fun slide of perhaps 8' ending in a great play spot for surfing or blasting (somewhat flow dependent).

The far left channel (actually straight ahead as you come downriver) passes under a foot-bridge and drops down a wide slide, also of about 8'. Because of the width of this channel, this will be scrapy at lower flows. (The most water is likely found on the right side of this slide.) If you run this left channel, be sure to paddle up the right channel from below to enjoy the playspot there.

Farm Dam (Class II, Mile 6.1)

When you see a silo straight ahead, and the river then takes a 90-degree turn to the right, you have arrived at Farm Dam. The dam is no longer here but some remnants flank river-left at the top of the drop. This is a fairly straight forward boulder bed drop with several surf waves, the nicest being on the right at the top. There is a hole about 20 yards into the drop which can get aggressive at higher flows, but this is usually not a problem if you have reasonable downriver momentum and are paddling assertively.

Surprise (Class II+, Mile 6.8)

This begins with easy bobbling rapids leading into a turn. Beyond the turn, the water picks up speed considerably in a fast, wavy chute, finisheing with a broken ledge of about 3' (surprise!). Generally you want to run the ledge either far-right or far-left with angle back towards center. Be aware that the large eddy on the right at the bottom is squirrely and feeds back upstream with some force!

S-curve (Class II, Mile 7.1)

Shortly after Surprise, there is an easy lead-in to a constriction that turns hard right, then back left in quick sequence. Expect a hole on the outside of the first bend up against the rock and watch for trees here as they tend to collect between the turns. As with all the drops on this reach, if you do not have the skills or confidence to boat scout this from eddy to eddy, and cannot see clear to the bottom, get out and take a look.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
August 12 2007 (4139 days ago)
Mark MastalskiDetails
I was informed by Joe Miller that they are not allowing boaters to go onto the tribal land. This is
where most of the good paddling on the Upper Red is to be had. I asked him if there was anyway to
gain approval and he basically said no way. You can call and try, but I doubt if you're going to
get permission to run this reach...too bad.

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