Escanaba, E.Br. - Sands Plains Run: Section 20 Bridge to W.Iron Street (2 - 8.4 miles)

Escanaba, E.Br., Michigan, US


Sands Plains Run: Section 20 Bridge to W.Iron Street (2 - 8.4 miles)

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (varies with level)
Length 8.4 Miles
Avg. Gradient 7 fpm
Max Gradient 55 fpm


Photo of D. Cowell

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-04057800 100 - 800 cfs I-II(III) 01h07m ~ 26.6 cfs (too low)
Likely too low for decent whitewater run. Referenced gauge (on other branch of the river) has just about half the drainage as this put-in, so flow could be ~2x gauge. Correlation not assured.

River Description

An excellent pool drop style run for beginners and intermediates during spring run-off -- class I-II at 'normal' water levels, class III in spring or high water. There are four short rapids in the first two miles (average run time is 45 minutes), or continue all the way to Gwynn for a few more drops, but a lot more flatwater. Always be on the lookout for logs which may have to be portaged.

The drops are nicely spaced on the run and the flatwater between moves at a pace which allows easy paddling from one drop to the next. The private land owners in the cabins have been very friendly when we've encountered them, but we have stayed in our kayaks when talking to them. Two of the cabins/houses are regularly occupied and have docks in the river.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-03-06 15:24:50

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.1USGS sampling siteN/A
0.6Canyon RapidII+
1.5Short drop?N/A
1.7Short drop?N/A
1.9Confluence, O'Neal CreekN/A
2.0Fourth dropII
2.2Short Rocky WavetrainII
2.5Long ShoalsI
2.7Short ShoalsI
3.2Broken ShoalsI
3.6Confluence, unnamed creekN/A
4.7Riffles and RipsN/A
5.4Timber FordN/A
6.0Rock PileN/A
7.8Log Jam ?N/A
7.9Rock Wall ?N/A
8.2Possible minor ledgeN/A

Rapid Descriptions

USGS sampling site (Class N/A, Mile 0.1)

A USGS sampling site lists drainage at this point as 96.6 square miles.

Island (Class N/A, Mile 0.6)

Just before the first drop, an island is encountered, though it may not be very obvious. The main flow (going into the Canyon Rapid) lies to the right -- really almost more straight ahead. You actually need to make a 90-degree left to catch the left channel. (You may also wish to check out the left side, just for variety.) A footbridge is encountered early on the left side, then a narrow channel leads to a wider ledge coming out below the island.

Canyon Rapid (Class II+, Mile 0.6)

Shortly after the first cabin on river left (in the right channel around an island) this 30-40 yard stretch passes through granite walls about four feet apart, spanned by a footbridge. The drop consists of a slide with a bend in the middle of the rapids and a 3 foot drop at the end. This should be scouted for wood before running. Take out on the island (river left) before the drop and walk over the footbridge to inspect entire drop.

Rapids (Class II, Mile 0.9)

The second rapids are straightforward with a 3-4 foot drop at the end into a sometimes sticky hole. As of this writing, there is a log wedged in the rock on the right side of this run (1/2 way down) which can catch the nose of a kayak and flip it. To avoid it, stay centered or river left on this drop.

Rapids (Class II, Mile 1.0)

The third drop is the longest rapid on the run. Shortly after the second rapid, you will see about 100 yards of boulder bed rapids. They are fairly straightforward and end in a decent hole, great for surfing in the spring.

Short drop? (Class N/A, Mile 1.5)

Short drop? (Class N/A, Mile 1.7)

Confluence, O'Neal Creek (Class N/A, Mile 1.9)

O'Neal Creek enters from river-right, and signals your approach to the next drop.

Fourth drop (Class II, Mile 2.0)

The fourth drop is at the end of the 'short run'. It consists of a slide through a rocky area with a 90 degree bend midway and a small drop into a large pooled area. Takeout in this pool, up the sandy bank to the local camping/party area. Or, continue on for the longer trip.

Broken Shoals (Class I, Mile 3.2)

Intermittent light shoals (gravel-bed riffles and rips) are scattered between flatwater over the next half-mile.

Confluence, unnamed creek (Class N/A, Mile 3.6)

An unnamed (as far as online maps are concerned) creek enters from river-left.

Timber Ford (Class N/A, Mile 5.4)

Just beyond a logged-off area, Google Maps indicates a possible ford (low-water crossing) of the stream. A brief shoals appears.

Rock Pile (Class N/A, Mile 6.0)

A large rock looms dead ahead, the river takes a sharp jog to the right, and trips over a short ledge as it heads back to the left.

Log Jam ? (Class N/A, Mile 7.8)

As you round a bend there may be a ledge with likely log-jam, leading into some waves and shoals downstream.

Rock Wall ? (Class N/A, Mile 7.9)

There may be a rock wall river-left, and the river appears to be squeezed just a bit, and may trip across a couple minor ledge/waves.

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