Difficulty II-III
Length 1.1 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Next Release 2020-08-22
Reach Info Last Updated 03/17/2020 11:02 pm

River Description

Located about 8 miles northwest of Chippewa Falls, at the junction of County Highway Y and Highway 178, this short reach of river is class II and class III pool-drop rapids, requiring intermediate to advanced skill level.

Releases into the original river channel (otherwise substantially dewatered between the dam and Xcel Energy's Jim Falls Hydro Plant) take place for two full months in spring (from April 1st to May 31st, for Sturgeon spawning) when this reach should run a constant 850 cfs, while summer releases (three weekends annually in July and August) will be 650 cfs.

Some boaters will put in by the dam to have a little "warm-up" before the main action. However, this upper portion of the reach contains little more than rocks and current, so most paddlers will prefer to put-in at an old bridge midway down the channel where the first real rapids start.

Below the bridge, a mix of rocks and chutes provide a few spots for minor play. There are plenty of 'stealth rocks' (both in the flow and in some eddies) just to keep you on your guard. Reportedly, the summer release flows are somewhat 'thin', so best play may be at the spring levels, when more of these rocks may be more covered.

Please be sure to sign in at the put-in location and include any comments you might have. These sheets will be used to evaluate participation and help make informed decision regarding future flow releases. 


The put-in location is Old Abe Wayside Park on State Highway 178 on the west side of the river about a half-mile upstream of the County Y bridge. An access trail leads from the parking area to the water. The take-out site is located approximately 250 yards downstream from the County Y bridge on the east side of the river. The take-out point provides for the easy removal of boats from the river, and includes a foot trail to a parking area on Xcel Energy property.

A restroom is located immediately upstream of the main spillway section of the dam at the boat landing along State Highway 178 about one-quarter mile north of the put-in location. Another restroom is located at a convenience store in the town of Jim Falls, about one-quarter mile from the take-out site.

History and Additional Information:

During the 1990s and early-2000s, Xcel Energy underwent federal relicensing to obtain 30-year operating licenses of three hydro projects on the Lower Chippewa River: Holcombe, Wissota and Dells. As part of the relicensing, Xcel Energy cooperated with federal and state environmental resource agencies (including National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program), local governments, homeowners associations, hunting and fishing groups, local paddlers, and an environmental group, to arrive at new operating parameters for all six of the Lower Chippewa River hydro projects owned by Xcel Energy. Primary issues of concern included recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, flow coordination, and water quality. A settlement agreement was filed in January of 2001 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and new operating licenses were issued on Dec. 31, 2002. The whitewater flow release plan at the Jim Falls Hydro Project was agreed to in the settlement agreement as a means of providing additional recreational opportunities. The plan was amended in 2016 to include three additional whitewater releases. The releases remain an annual operating requirement of the Jim Falls Hydro Project.

For additional information, contact Joe Wawrzaszek at Spring Street Sports, Chippewa Falls: 715.723.6616 or by e-mail at sss@charter.net.

Although it has not been updated in recent years, you can check out the Jim Falls Blogspot some great photos, and other area info.

A fine "companion piece" may be the Big Falls of the Eau Claire, which lies just about 15 miles due south of Jim Falls, and about 9 miles due east of Eau Claire, WI.

Rapid Descriptions


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There is an area for free tent camping, located along Hwy.178 about two blocks north of the dam, right next to the lake. It has room for several small tents, and has one picnic table and a fire ring. There is a separate Men's/Women's rest room 100' away at the public access. (Make sure to bring your own TP, as it is not always provided).

Parking for Upper (Dam) Put-in

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There is parking alongside the dam for those wishing to do the full (most extended) run of this reach, putting in just below the dam.

Those using this parking/access should stop at the sign-in location to show that you're using this resource in order to continue recreational releases for the future.

Put-In Parking - "Old Abe" Wayside

Class - N/A Mile - 0.24
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The usual Put-in parking lot when group shuttling. Follow the trail down to the river.

Glenn Felske provided (2004-11-22):
A better put in spot is 500 feet north on 178 past the old bridge. A historical marker and picnic area provides a parking lot and easy access to the river. The river is very shallow and a short walk up river is required during normal level. This put in allows you to get lined up on the river left chute below the bridge. This is a narrow chute that starts with a left turn into a gradual slope downstream. During normal levels, there are 2 rocks at the end of the chute. A hard right is required, although I have managed to canoe through them.

Those using this parking/access should stop at the sign-in location to show that you're using this resource in order to continue recreational releases for the future.

First rapids

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The first rapids starts here, from river left.

Alternate Put-In #2

Class - N/A Mile - 0.51
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This is the put-in most used for the main action (the 'lower' run) or for park-and-play. From the NW corner of the parking lot where the sign up sheet is kept, look for the trail and carry down to a backwater/eddy to put in. The first 3 rapids are accessible from this point, allowing a park and play. It is easy to carry up "Big Drop" and the 2nd rapids, run the flat water between them, and paddle back to the bridge where you can carry back up to the parking lot.

Ledge #1 + Ledge #2

Class - N/A Mile - 0.52
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Almost back-to-back ledges occur on river-right, just upstream of the bridge.

Sign in sheet location

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The negotiated releases will be periodically reviewed.

Make sure to sign in to show that you're using this wonderful resource in order to continue these releases in the future.

2nd Rapids

Class - N/A Mile - 0.64


Big Drop (3rd Rapids)

Class - N/A Mile - 0.72

Two big holes and an offset ledge.

You have some options on how to run this:

Run down the middle and punch the big hole at the bottom.

Run the ledge to river-right of the hole.

Run down the middle, and shoot the gap between the upper hole on river left, and the center hole at the bottom.

Final Drop

Class - N/A Mile - 0.87
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It is recommended to run through the center of the hole or to river-left of it, due to shallow rebar on the right side under the bridge.

USGS sampling site

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USGS lists a sampling site below the powerplant with drainage area of 4,870 square miles.

Take-out Parking

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Drive down a short hill and park on the grass near the river. Watch out for a rock at the bottom that has ruined more than one oil pan. Avoid it!
If it is wet and slippery, you may want to park along the top edge of the road.


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bryan foster
10 years ago

Is there a rough way to gauge the level based on the capacity of Jim Falls and the flow at Chippewa falls? With the rain this summer I have been wondering if Jim falls is running after some of the small stuff has settled out.

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glenn felske
15 years ago

a better put in spot is another 500 feet north on 178 past the old bridge.A historical marker and picnic area provides a parking lot and easy access to the river.The river is very shallow and a short walk up river is required during normal level.This put in allows you to get lined up on the river left chute below the bridge.this is a narrow chute that starts with a left turn into a gradual slope down streem.During normal levels, there are 2 rocks at the end of the chute.A hard right is required although I have managed to canoe threw them.

No Gage

Release Schedule

More Information
Date Start Time End Time Flow
08/22/2020 10:00:00 15:00:00 650-650
08/23/2020 10:00:00 15:00:00 650-650

Gage Descriptions

Flows of 850 cfs will be released continuously between April 1 - May 31st each year for fish spawning. Additional whitewater flow releases of 650 cfs will occur four times annually in July and August during the six year evaluation period. Additionally, it may run at times of high flow (significant rain events).

Directions Description

Shuttle will generally be by foot, carrying back up to your car.


Use the options below to get directions to this reach from your starting location.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

Whitewater flow releases on the Chippewa (WI) 2007

Thomas O'Keefe

Whitewater flows are scheduled for July 14, 28 and August 11, 19 on the Chippewa River at the Jim Falls Hydroelectric Project.
article main photo

WW Releases begin on Chippewa River, WI

John Gangemi

Xcel Energy starts releases on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin this weekend.  Four releases are scheduled for this summer.  Enjoy this whitewater opportunity.  Boat safely and be sure to sign-in.
article main photo

Midwest Hydro Successes

Thomas O'Keefe & Angie Tornes

Working in close partnership with AW since the first flow study on the Pine River in 1991, the Rivers and Trails Program has assisted us in obtaining significant benefits for whitewater recreation through the FERC licensing process. Several projects in the midwest have benefitted from this productive partnership.



Thomas O'Keefe


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1197754 05/30/10 Rob Minor reformat main page; Add features/rapids descriptions (from MnktoDave)
1214533 03/17/20 Rob updated image position
1214535 03/17/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1214534 03/17/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated description
1199192 02/05/11 Rob Embed YouTube video.
1211866 04/08/19 Rob updated description
1211588 04/01/19 Rob updated image position
1193887 06/20/07 n/a n/a