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Difficulty I-II(III)
Length 8.4 Miles
Gauge ~ MIDDLE BRANCH ESCANABA RIVER AT HUMBOLDT, MI
Flow Range 100 - 800 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 month ago 24.3 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 03/06/2015 3:24 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions

USGS sampling site

Class - N/A Mile - 0.1
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A USGS sampling site lists drainage at this point as 96.6 square miles.

Island

Class - N/A Mile - 0.557
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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 - 0.58
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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 - 0.94
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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
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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
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Short drop?

Class - N/A Mile - 1.66
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Confluence, O'Neal Creek

Class - N/A Mile - 1.92
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O'Neal Creek enters from river-right, and signals your approach to the next drop.

Fourth drop

Class - II Mile - 2.02
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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.

Short Rocky Wavetrain

Class - II Mile - 2.2
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Long Shoals

Class - I Mile - 2.5
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Short Shoals

Class - I Mile - 2.73
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Broken Shoals

Class - I Mile - 3.16
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Intermittent light shoals (gravel-bed riffles and rips) are scattered between flatwater over the next half-mile.

Confluence, unnamed creek

Class - N/A Mile - 3.62
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An unnamed (as far as online maps are concerned) creek enters from river-left.

Riffles and Rips

Class - N/A Mile - 4.69
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Timber Ford

Class - N/A Mile - 5.42
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Possible minor ledge

Class - N/A Mile - 8.22
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Comments

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10 years ago

The third drop has a log at the very start of this run. It is apx. a foot above water level (at 150 cfs) it is not possible to get under or around. Take out on right just before right turn put in just below log, you can still get most of this run. ---Ran it yesterday(4-3-2010). Drops scrapy-river level high though and runnable. Canyon run(1st drop) sends you into wall at bend due to lower level. Log is gone on third drop but limbo log is now present at beginning of drop. Partial strainer around corner of drop also. Last drop now has river wide log just before it. Can be edged around on river left.

Summary of Gauge Readings

Visual inspection of rocky area directly under put-in bridge. If this area is runnable then run should be great. If it is scrapey then run will be scrapey. Best runs are in spring or after heavy rains.

Use Escanaba Middle Branch gauge as a rough estimate of runnability (Note: this section has been run later and at lower levels then other branches of the Escanaba.)

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
MIDDLE BRANCH ESCANABA RIVER AT HUMBOLDT, MI
AW Gauge Info
24 cfs ℹ️ 50d20h34m 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.
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Directions Description


Paddlers can use the automatic directions given below for the 'full run', or this description provided by a local 'informant' for the short (2 mile) run:

Traveling south on CR 553 (11.6 miles from Hwy.28/41 out of Marquette, 9.0 miles past the Carp River) turn right on Station Road/CR-NB. Continue 1.5 miles to the end of the pavement. Cross the railroad tracks and immediately turn left on the dirt road. Proceed 0.2 miles to a fork in the road, taking the right fork (CR Nnd) and proceed 0.6 miles to a 4-way dirt intersection. Turn right at this intersection and travel 1.1 miles to the bridge over the East Branch Escanaba River. (Total distance from CR553 turnoff should be 3.6 miles.) This is the put-in.

Return to intersection of Station Road and County Road 553 and proceed 4.2 miles south. Just prior to the take out road you will see a small steel Semco Energy building on the left. Turn right off 553 onto the gravel road (opposite side of road) and continue west on this road for 1 mile to a fork in the road. Take the left fork and continue approximately 1/2 mile to another split in road. Take the right road (2 -track road) its end at the river (approx. 1/2 mile). This is the take-out.

Note:  About 100ft prior to the river you will encounter a road-wide waterhole. Do not attempt to drive through unless you have a very high ground clearance and 4 wheel drive. The road bends to the right and continues about 50 yards to a clearing/campsite just below the 4th drop described in the run. We usually take out here and carry our kayaks back to the vehicle on the other side of the waterhole.

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