In-town park-and-play spot.
There are a couple possible playspots, depending upon flows (See Flow Info).
For what it's worth, assuming the date on the 'feature photo' is correct, the flow would have been in the neighborhood of 6,000 cfs.
(The mean daily flow reported for 2009-05-01 was 7120 cfs, for 2009-05-02 was 6070, and for 2009-05-03 was 5370 cfs).
Access to this site is available by passing BETWEEN the two red public works buildings (past the gas pumps, etc), then taking the driveway nearest the river, heading alongside the back of factory buildings to a lot up by the powerplant and dam.
(Click photo to see full-size!)
Depending on which gate(s) are open (and how much), there may be some gnarly waves in the outflow of the dam. The (relative) calm of the pool should allow you to get right alongside the wave(s) for your first ride (or attempt), though you may not be able to break out of flow and return for a second attempt other than by getting ashore and carrying up.
A set of stairs provides access to the river at this location. This makes a convenient put-in for low-to-moderate flows, when only the lower 'main ledge' is playable.
USGS gauge site: drainage area 5,710 square miles.
There is a set of stairs which provide great access at the take-out.
Just south of the public works buildings there is a large gravel lot, very convenient to the take-out area.
Paddled this for the first time yesterday at 8880cfs and the river left hole was definitely very sticky. The boil line was way downstream at this level and it was a frowner making it difficult to get out of. Looks like a lot of fun at a lower level.
Paddled stretch from Dam to Ledge PnP w/ 3 other boaters on July 17, 2010. River level was 25,000 cfs! Some amazing waves for surfing on river right that took a fair amount of ferrying from river left put in to get to through large swells and waves. More like ocean waves. Potential hazards of bridge pillars, not sure of underwater risks but river was super high. Waves intimidating but gave awesome surf. Difficult to scout due to them being on far side of river. Waves seemed semi-retentive (spins/back surfing) but able to wash off top easily enough to exit. Recommend doing float down first to scout before committing. Can do shuttle by foot but it'd be a hike with a boat. These were catch on the fly features. Eddy access may exist from river right but we weren't able to locate/utilize any.
Paddled this on 5-12-10 at 3650cfs. Fun level. Spent 4+hours. Best play on river left right at put in - small wave for surfing and hole that you could do CC spins in. Upstream side very shallow. Tried exploring river right but hole/pour over looked a little too munchy and weren't able to get on wave that was further right.
Ledge Drop; primarily to 2 holes on river left of the river wide ledge (can explore the rest, but be cautious per se, I have not explored to much other than these 2 holes)
Below 2500 cfs - Low, scrapy, not worth it unless you really want to get on the water.
2500 to 3000 cfs - beginner / intermediate boater level (spins both directions)
3000 to 4000 cfs - intermediate / advanced boater level (spins / sider surfing, begins to start hoppping in between these ranges, excellent fun with the skills)
4000 to 8000 cfs - intermediated advanced play boaters (both features on river left begin to get sticky, permanent side surf, need to know how to play out of it)
8000 cfs or above - begins to wash
Note; this pre-liminary data, last year we it out here a few times, this year as well.
Secondary features for advance boaters & high levels........2 features up river from ledge drop & up river from the old railroad bridge.
8000 cfs to maybe 18000 cfs - further exploration required, only really did this twice this year, but the 2 features have potential for advanced boaters. Down side no real eddy access & I suspect at really high levels not worth it.
Park 'n' Play - From downtown Eau Claire, take North Farwell St. to East Madison Street, turn left & follow to Forest Street just before bridge & turn right. Follow Forest Street up river to the City of Eau Claire Public Works / Utility (red concrete building on left hand side, if you go up a hill you have gone too far).
2 options for parking, either park in large dirt parking lot right before shop & walk along river up to the Ledge Drop - or - turn left into 2nd driveway for City Shop (do not take first driveway, one lane & for Community buses) go past gas pumps & turn right, either park right next to the Ledge drop which you can't miss, but park going on the road going to the left that goes up to the dam. One could also drive the left road all the way up to the dam, Xcel built a fisherman access stair case down to the river & put in their & paddle down to ledge, play, get out & walk back up road).
Note; more exploration is needed, but for now this is fairly accurate. So, for excellent play boating fun. Just spins & side surfing though, great to teach beginner play boaters, but no flips for this would be recommended......but, then again, who knows, I can't flip yet.......Cheers!
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Permits are not required for this reach.
From East Madison Street (immediately East of the bridge over the Chippewa River) head north on Forest Street to the City of Eau Claire Public Works / Utility buildings (red concrete buildings on west side of street).
Option#1) Park in large dirt parking lot just south of the first red building. Walk along river up to the Ledge Drop.
Option#2) Turn left into 2nd driveway (between 1st and 2nd red building -- do not take first one-lane driveway south of the first building which is for Community buses). You will go past gas pumps and turn right onto the road nearest the river. You can park right next to the ledge drop or drive up to the dam. Xcel has built fisherman access stair cases down to the river.
Since this is done as a 'park-and-play', with no shuttle necessary, we have defaulted the directions to show routing from your home zipcode. You can enter your home address or other starting location in the box (you can enter address/city/state, just city/state, just zipcode, or lat/long in any format) to get driving time, distance, and directions to this location.
View Downstream of Bridge
View of Dam to Bridge
Side Suring Galore....
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