This reach lies entirely within Menominee tribal lands. It is NOT LEGAL for all non-members of the Menominee Tribe to paddle or walk to the drops described here. Driving smaller roads (or any 'Indian Roads') may also not be permitted. If in doubt in Menominee County, stick to paved roads. Arrest and conviction on trespassing charges in Menominee county may result in fine, imprisonment, and confiscation of materials used in the act of trespass up to and including vehicles! This reach is included on the AW inventory for the sake of completeness and (perhaps more so) as somber and serious warning against exploring these areas.
While paddlers know the popular Wolf River quite well, it's West Branch is almost an unknown due to it's location on Menominee tribal lands and the restrictions placed upon non-Menominees therein. The information contained below has been obtained through interpretation of available data and conversation with Menominee tribal members.Top West Branch - 0.4 mile
From spring fed headwaters near Elton, the West Branch meanders through forested (and at times marshy) lands before beginning it's descent a short distance above Neopit Millpond. Through a series of small falls and cascades, the river drops 48' in 0.4 miles here for an equivalent gradient of 120'/mile. River size here should be roughly equivalent to that of the Red River at River Road. (Note: our listed hypothetical 'put-in' has no apparent road or path, and is merely a marker of the beginning of the significant gradient here.)Upper West Branch - 9.0 miles
Below the Neopit Dam, the West Branch becomes similiar to Section 4 of the Wolf in that there are short, abrupt sections of gradient interspersed with longer quietwater sections. There is a rapid noted on the topos at 1.3 miles from Neopit, likely low grade boulderbed. At 2.3 miles is Rainbow Falls, where the river drops at least 20' abruptly. This has been described as "bigger and scarier" than Big Smoky Falls on Section 4 of the Wolf. An older photograph indicated a dome-type drop. The next two miles drop at a rate of 20'/mile which should indicate some boulder bed rapids. Peavey Falls (4.1 miles), a ledge of perhaps 4', comes at the end of this section. There are three miles of relatively low gradient to the west bridge of Crow Settlement Road at 5.0 miles. Rapids are noted on the topo map at 7.3 miles, the river drops approximately 22' in the next mile. The east bridge of Crow Settlement Rd. is at 9.0 miles.Lower West Branch - 5.5 miles
From the east bridge of Crow Settlement Rd., there is 0.9 miles of probable quietwater to the start of Crow Rapids. The river constricts here and drops 30' in 0.2 miles through a winding rapids. The following 1.5 miles are lower gradient with a rapid indicated on the topos at 2.6 miles (from east bridge). Gradient increases somewhat in the next mile to Bear Trap Falls (3.5 miles). Bear Trap is a broken ledge of 5' with a large boulder (the "trapped bear") under the curtain at one point. The West Branch Rd. bridge crosses at 4.2 miles. There is one more drop noted, Wayka Falls (5.2 miles), before the confluence with the Wolf at 5.5 miles.
Some tribal history and (historical) photos (including a masthead shot of Bear Trap falls) are available on the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin website.
Again, it is important to understand that many sites (on river and off) have sacred significance. Your mere presence would be akin to defiling the altar of a church. Please, respect the tribal history and sensitivities!
USGS lists a sampling site upstream of our 'theoretical put-in' above Neopit, showing drainage of 41.8 square miles.
USGS lists a sampling site immediately downstream of Neopit Mill Pond Dam citing drainage area of 98.6 square miles.
USGS lists a sampling site at West Branch Road (just downstream of Bear Trap Falls) with drainage area of 163 square miles.
Flows downstream of Neopit should be comparable to those of the Red River at Morgan as this is a parallel watershed of roughly equivalent size.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Reach lies wholly within Menomonee Tribal lands. Trespass is punishable by fines, jail time, and (up to) confiscation of all gear and tangible goods (your shuttle vehicle(s)) used in commission of the trespass.
Even driving tribal roads or getting out of your car and 'exploring' beyond the immediate road shoulders could be found to be in violation of trespass laws.
It is therefore recommended that boaters ignore this shuttle information until or unless arrangements with the tribe can be made for access to this area. They have not been in any way interested in opening discussions about doing so, as they consider many of these areas sacred.
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