Location: Maribel, midway NW of Two Rivers and SE of Green Bay.
Run Length: 1-mile access paddle, 0.6 miles of rapids on Devils River, plus up to 2.4 miles paddle-out on Neshota/West Twin.
Shuttle Length: 3.8 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: A gentle stream meandering through America's Dairyland changes character after passing under the interstate. As the riverbed turns to bedrock, a falls (three quick ledges) and sloping bedrock make a busy half-mile.
Drainage area (at confluence with Neshota/West Twin): 36.3 square miles
Nearby ('companion') runs (with drainages, for comparison): Bower Creek (14.8 sq.mi.), Baird Creek (15.7 sq.mi.), School Creek (15 sq.mi.), Neshota/West Twin (43 sq.mi.).
(Since these are all small drainages and relatively similar size/nature, they are likely to all run at same time. Also, since they all short runs, it is very possible to do a 'daily double', triple, or quad!)
Put-in is approximately 721' elevation.
Confluence (Devils/Neshota) is approximately 647' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 619' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 102'.
Gradient for just Devils River is approximately 46 FPM. The 'action' is 50' of drop in a half-mile, for an effective gradient of 100 FPM.
Gradient for the included portion of the run on Neshota/West Twin River is approximately 14 FPM.General Overview
The 1-mile access paddle for this reach consists of flat but flowing water, with occasional riffles and rips. One should expect numerous snags which will require threading over, under, through, or around. After passing under Interstate 43 (and leaving the worst of the snags behind) you will see a trailer-campground river-right.
(I've never checked nor tried, but if you can find the proprietors at home, you may be able to gain access from the campground, thereby eliminating the access paddle. However, recently I have heard second-/third-hand info suggesting they are not boater-friendly, and are likely to protest your presence (due to liability and other concerns) to scout or portage. Thus, we generally urge keeping as low-profile a presence as possible when scouting/portaging this area -- do not linger! I have never had a problem (never been confronted) here, but, then, I have never attempted to boat this during summer, when campground is likely to be full and active.)
Gradient increases slightly to provide a tame rock-garden rapids, leading to a pool and a sharp left-hand turn. You will hear the falls downstream. Proceed cautiously, taking out on river-right before you come close to the horizon-line. The broken walls of a long-gone dam signal a drop which will catch any Midwest boater's attention. A couple ledges in quick succession (of approximately two feet height each) land on shallow bedrock. At high water, this will be a steep flume, dropping into a dynamic surging hole. A brief flowing pool leads to another short ledge which (at higher levels) will form a potentially sticky hole.
Immediately downstream, overhanging trees and shrubs add to the potential hazard as one begins the next 0.5 mile of mixed shallow sloping bedrock rapids and rubble field rapids, some of which could offer some play (were it not for the fact that water quality is generally terrible due to the multitude of cattle farms in the watershed). After passing under CTH.R, a few more good waves, short ledges, and rubble field rapids lead to the confluence of the Devils River with Neshota River, where together they form the West Twin River.
DON'T HEAD DOWNSTREAM YET! Ferry across to the east (river-left) bank and carry upstream about a hundred yards here. (Be very careful while walking through the woods-- there is old barbed wire low to the ground in a number of spots here.) A sweet series of ledge/waves on the Neshota River lie just upstream of the confluence, and can provide some sweet 'bigger water' action (not 'big water', just 'bigger' water than on Devils). At good flows, a couple of these wave/holes can be VERY sticky.
Heading downstream, you will encounter little more than swiftwater and a few riffles and rips. It is possible to take out at Maribel Caves County Park, eliminating about 1.5 miles of mostly flat-but-flowing water. This, however, necessitates an arduous climb up stairs at the bluff to get to the parking area. Therefore it is generally preferable to continue downstream to the listed take-out on Hwy.147. Whichever take-out is used, I highly recommend a hike in the park to explore the bluffs and caves and view the stone-wall ruins of the Maribel Hotel.
Note: You may notice (on topo maps and other sources) some marked "falls" on the stretch of the West Twin (and nearby East Twin). Without exception, these are really just low-grade rapids, much more tame than the action on the Devils River! Each of the "Twins" could make very pleasant canoe trips, and have reaches which would be floatable during most of the year. At lower water, many shoals would require dragging over, but most of the length of these streams are deep pools with sufficient beauty to merit a float trip.
Boaters who are hoping for a run on Devils River, but find it running too low to bother (remember, we list a 'virtual' gauge, which will occasionally give 'false reads' of boatability) may choose to partially salvage their trip to this area by just doing the run on the Neshota/West Twin. While it is not likely to be running high (under conditions when Devils River is too low to bother with), it should be boatable, and will give access to the Devils Meet Ledges, which should at least offer reasonable play (again, when the virtual gauge is giving a 'false read' of boatability on Devils River). Of course, boaters who were hoping for a run on Devils River may be (more likely to be) looking for more significant action than they'll find on Neshota/West Twin.Additional Resources:Click here for an interesting website about the Maribel Hotel. (Make certain to read not just the myths, but also the facts debunking them.)
To reiterate from the body of the description: if you can find the proprietors at home, you may be able to gain access from the campground, thereby eliminating the access paddle. However, recently I have heard second-/third-hand info suggesting they are not boater-friendly, and are likely to protest your presence (due to liability and other concerns) to scout or portage. Thus, we generally urge keeping as low-profile a presence as possible when scouting/portaging this area. (Keep as quiet as possible, keep as near the river as possible, and do not linger any more than necessary!) I have never had a problem (never been confronted) here, but, then, I have never attempted to boat this during summer, when campground is likely to be full and active.
Remnants of a former dam flank the river at the brink of this 'falls'. The river spills down a stairstep of bedrock ledges into a hole (at higher flows, anyway), sheeting across a short (flowing) pool before dropping off another short ledge (into a potentially sticky-looking hole). At low-to-moderate flows, this may rate class II+ or III. At moderate-to-high flows, this will be class IV (and a likely portage for many boaters)!
Downstream of the main ledge sequence, you will find a very busy stretch of dells (most likely with a lot of overhanging cedars and other shoreline vegetation to complicate navigation) before the banks open up and the river widens a bit.
As you head toward the County Road R, this small river spreads wider across shallow bedrock, and you will probably 'grunge out' a bit (unless you have a quite high flow). Numerous shallow waves will form through here, but none have sufficient depth (at almost any reasonable flow) to allow enough paddle strokes to catch and surf. Passing the bridge, the river heads to the right, and a fine series of ledges will form some decent waves. (There may be some play right in the back yard of a nice home.) A bit more boulder-bed scrambling will bring you to the confluence with the Neshota River, where the combined flow is now the West Twin River.
This is not on Devils River, but is a 'carry-up' from the confluence of Devils River and the Neshota River (whereupon both cease to exist, and they become the West Twin -- one of two rivers that flow into the city of Two Rivers, WI). Looking just upstream of the confluence, on the Neshota River, you will see a fine set of ledge/waves. Many boaters will find it worthwhile to carry up to run this fine sequence.The near shore (river-left of the Devils River, river-right of Neshota River) is privately owned, with a cabin/house present. While the other shore is also privately owned, it is wooded with no home and yard, thus we advise ferrying across to river-left (of the Neshota/West Twin), to carry up on that shore. This also shortens the carry a bit, since you will be carrying up the inside of a bend in the Neshota River. Be careful walking through this wooded area, as there are numerous locations with old barbed wire down on the ground. I generally recommend carrying a good ways upstream, above the bend in the river, to put in and enjoy this fine ledge sequence.The sequence starts with a single short (~1') ledge which spans the river, and can provide some minor play when flows are adequate. It could be worth carrying up to this point just to check out, and to warm-up the play muscles before dropping into Devils Meet Ledges. The meatier action will be Devils Meet Ledges, where most repeat play is likely to be done by shorter carry-up.
Fairly immediately downstream of Hunter's Ledge, you round a bend to the left and head back toward the confluence with the Devils River. At lower flows, these will be no more than class II, offering tame play. However, when the Devils River has good boatable flows, Neshota/West Twin is likely to be running moderate-to-high, and these ledges will likely push to solid class III or better! Some of the ledge/wave/holes will allow great play or will play with you! (That is, some get a bit sticky at higher flows and may grab you for an unplanned backender or surf!) There will be some eddies and slackwater for confident experienced whitewater boaters to 'work' (and play) the rapids. Some may wish to do a short carry-up to hit the best of these a second time. They can be skirted (paddled around) by staying far right. (Scouting may be done while you are carrying up river-left shore.)
A private residence on river left has a cement slab ford of the stream which allows them to cross at low water. (When the river is at boatable flows, they make sure to park on river-right, and cross a footbridge suspended a good height over the river.) Good boatable flows should make this ford passable (by boat) with barely more than a riffle.
Most topographic maps have a 'falls' marked at this location. At all flows and all occasions which I have run this river, I have never been able to identify just what 'falls' they are talking about. There are a few spots which have some minor ripples and riffs, but do not expect (or worry about) any 'falls' (or even rapids of note) on this part of the river.
1 year ago
* Virtual gauge is based upon 1/4 the flow of Kewaunee River (based from the relative watershed areas).
Correlation to reference gauges is never assured. This is a small and 'flashy' watershed. The 'window of opportunity' may be literally only hours long and the online reference gauges may not update in time to reveal the flow. Minimum and maximum are completely untested guesses. Anyone running this stream is encouraged to provide feedback regarding gauge readings and runnability of this reach by using the "Add a Comment" button which should appear at bottom of this description (for all registered, logged-in users).
The best remote gauge is 'gut feel', based on weather radar and rainfall totals. If the area gets a couple inches of rain, you may want to head there to check it out, knowing that you could get skunked (or bump-and-scrape for a low-water run) or have to head to one of the listed alternate nearby runs.
The 'boaters gauge' is just to look at the bedrock riverbed and mini-ledges at CTH.R bridge. If this area looks sufficiently covered to float your boat, go for it.
(NOTE: It's likely that you'll grunge a bit through here, even at decent levels for the run! Even at 'high-boatable' flow, water will not cover the cement 'step' of the bridge wall. If that step is covered, the river is CRANKED (flooding!), and is not recommended, as it will be a high-speed no-eddy flush into/through trees overhanging or in the water.)
Another gauge is at the put-in, where the upstream-left bridge support has an 'inside' corner/bend. A large rock nestled here should be at least covered for a relatively minimum water-level. For higher water runs, feel down for it and measure the depth. When the rock is 15-18" down (I.E., "one cubit" -- with fingers extended, forearm vertical, water will be near or over your elbow) the main drop is awesome (perhaps scary, and a likely portage for mere mortal paddlers)!
* We had used Baird Creek as a secondary gauge. It is 15.5 miles Northwest, and has a drainage area about half that of the Devil's River. Unfortunately, that gauge has gone unfunded. I am leaving this description intact (but 'whited out') in case the gauge is re-activated at some future date.
Using a pair of reference gauges means they may often disagree on runnability of this reach!
Ideally, you will want BOTH gauges 'showing green' and rising (or at least holding relatively steady) to 'confirm' runnability.
One gauge 'green' (or even purple) and the other 'yellow/orange' should tell you it's a crapshoot -- it could be too low, or it could be sweet -- you have to decide if you're willing to risk the drive.
Permits are not required for this reach.
IF permission can be obtained to access from the campground, shuttle (and run) can be shortened.
Lead-in to CTH.R bridge
Wide-angle view downstream of CTH.R Bridge
View downstream of CTH.R Bridge
Devils River Falls
Devil's River Campground Falls
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