Escanaba, M.Br., Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||38 fpm|
|Max Gradient||60 fpm|
|Escanaba, M.Br. Lower|
|virtual-10534||225 - 800 cfs||II-IV||02h14m||~ 64.574 cfs (too low)|
|Likely too low for anything but grunge. Virtual gauge attempts to project flows based on gauge way upstream. Actual flow and boatability for this reach must be confirmed by on-site inspection.|
This short section containing about six good rapids will most often be included as the conclusion
of the upper run. I have
opted to list it separately, since many boaters (at least on some occasion) may
not want (or have time) to paddle the longer run with all it's flatwater,
but may be looking for some good action in this area. Some examples:
(1) if weather is cold and nasty, but you really want to paddle something, or
(2) if you had hoped to catch the Yellow Dog or the Carp, but found them too low . . . now the day is half-shot, but you want to get on the water, or
(3) you're just not sure you want to deal with all of the early drops (likely portages for less confident or experienced paddlers).
This short piece should fill the bill, with a nice mix of drops: a short squeeze (with some possible play), a blind twisting (around an island) drop, a boulder-garden rock-dodge, a constricted little flume, another boulder-garden, and a short boof drop.
Put-in is at the end of a dead-end road about 0.8 mile north of the CR565
bridge. Land is all privately held. Please do not drive (or park vehicles) on the lawn. Park away
from the house, and secure permission (if owners appear to be present). Property owner at this
location (as put-in for the lower stretch and listed take-out for the upper stretch) have been
very boater-friendly by all reports thus far. PLEASE BE ON YOUR BEST BEHAVIOR so as not to
jeopardize this for all future boaters of these runs!
The take-out is also all privately held. Please make every attempt to secure permission before parking a vehicle on or near any private property and trespassing to exit the river. The best take out would be from one of the two houses at the end of the road which parallels the river downstream-left (just north from the CR565 bridge). More often than not, we have had difficulty finding people home here, but when found (years back) they had generally been quite friendly and gracious. We have recent reports this may no longer be the case. If you do find a property owner to ask for permission to park or even to just walk across their property, be as humble and gracious as possible. If they do grant you any permissions, thank them sincerely, and be certain to do your best to be absolutely clear on where to park (if granted) or where to walk or stay clear of, and by all means attempt to be on your best behavior and leave no sign of your passing (leave no trash behind). If they deny you (which they are totally within their right to do), do your best to smile and thank them and leave without making a scene. If you do not find a property owner and get permission, DO NOT PARK OR WALK ON PRIVATE PROPERTY! (Keep in mind, while you have the right to be on the river, if you do not obtain permission you do NOT have any right to use private property to get on or off the river!) Either try for permission from some other property owner, suck-it-up and paddle further downstream to take out, or skip this run and go elsewhere. Unfortunately, there is virtually no parking along County Road 565, and no way to exit the river at 565 without using private property (since the rapids start above and end below, and are very swift right under the bridge).
From the put in, it is about a 1/4 mile paddle to the first drop. A granite hump in the middle
pushes most of the water to the right. A tricky S-turn current makes it more difficult than it
looks (II-III). The run out below is deep, so go for it. At levels over 700 cfs this area will
contain a sticky hydraulic.
A few minor waves and a brief flatwater paddle will bring you to an island which seems always to have heaps of trees and debris piled up ahead of it.. Approach Log Jam (III+) cautiously to determine which route is most viable. Be prepared to scout, either from the island or the right shore. The 'round-house' route to the right has more gentle, gradual drop, or (if you can get through (around, or over the snags) on river left, you'll be greeted by a short slide into the current which wrapped around to the right. Following the island, the re-combined flow takes a quick right bend and spills down a boulder bed drop.
Shortly downstream, two more boulder bed rapids should be boat scoutable. Have fun eddy hopping, creating hero lines, and boofing rocks as you work your way through this great section.
After the second boulder bed you will see the road/bridge and the start of 5-6-5 Falls (III-IV). This one should be scouted ahead of time from the bridge (when you are setting shuttle), since it is flanked by private property (houses) on both sides. It contains a series of holes and waves that are fun but can be difficult depending on the water level. At 700 cfs this a very pushy, fast rapid. Water constricts leading into and under the bridge, before spilling out from under it across a couple wide ledges of rock and into a good recovery pool.
Just downstream is a steep, boulder bed rapid, Lower 5-6-5 (III-IV). Scouting this drop is advised, but is not easy. Good boaters should be able to eddy hop and boat scout to make sure not to run pell-mell into a snag which may occasionally lodge in here.
Don't get out yet! If you continue downstream (beyond the last house on the hill on the left, with a huge mowed yard down to the river), you will soon come to pretty decent sized island which divides the river, and each side contains a waterfall. Scout from the island. Both sides are runnable. The left side is fairly straightforward and fun (Sweet side), while the right side has far more confused an approach and more complicated landing.
After making whatever runs of these falls you choose to try, carry back up above this drop and paddle back upstream to the take out you have pre-arranged.
The resolution on Google Maps for this area is quite good. We highly recommended going to the 'Map' tab, clicking 'USGS Aerial', double-clicking the put-in, zooming in to the maximum resolution available, and doing a 'virtual walk' of this reach!
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||USGS sampling site||N/A|
|1.5||'Homme Side'/'Sweet Side'||IV|
|1.9||*Possible Alternate Exit*||N/A|
|4.2||Three Mile Island||II+|
USGS lists a sampling site right at our listed put-in for this lower reach, showing drainage area of 179 square miles.
The first drop on the lower section comes where a hump of rock funnels the flow to river right. Not overly complex of a drop, some play may be possible either in the drop or at a couple minor ledge/waves downstream.
A massive logjam has (for years) accumulated at the head of an island, all but blocking the flow of the river. Two routes may be possible.
If passage is clear to the right, the river takes a round-house turn, losing the gradient gradually, through continuous waves. Caution (scouting, or careful boat-scouting) is urged, as there is not likely to be much for eddies if you need to break out to avoid any wood which may be lodged round the bend out of sight.
If you can make it over, around, or through the wood which generally blocks the left side, water drops off a steeper plunge, to rejoin flow which comes around from the right. Caution! There are some piton rocks on this route!
The rejoined flows then zig and zag a bit, through waves and a few holes before the action subsides.
A fine rock garden provides a bit of 'boogie water'.
As the river head toward and under the bridge for highway 565, it accelerates through a great series of ledges, waves, and holes. At moderate-to-high flows, this will be a good hanful of action! Water fans out across a final bedrock intrusion before hitting the calm of a pool just downstream of the bridge.
After a brief pause, the action picks up, tripping down a boulder-bed drop, across a couple ledges, twisting to the right, before hiting another good pool.
Downstream of the take-out, there is one more drop. Paddle down to where an island splits the flow. Take out on the island to scout both sides of this drop.
River right (at most flows) is a pretty gnarly mess. It has been run, but it is not trivial. I call this the 'Homme Side' (pronounced rather like 'homicide') since it looks to me to be a man-killer. Also in reference to 'Homme', French for 'man', since if you can find a line that you like, you're a better man than I am!
River left is far simpler (though can trick you up). A couple small bedrock intrusions (ledge/waves) twist the current left and right. A shoreline eddy allows you to collect your thoughts and aim toward a good horizon line for a sweet boof. In honor of this, I call this the 'Sweet Side' (often intentionally mispronounced to sound rather like 'suicide', as counterpoint to the other drop). A short boiling pool quickly spills across shallow rock to rejoin flow from the right of the island.
After running whichever side(s) to your heart's content, carry back to the top of the island, and paddle upstream in the slackwater above to get to your vehicle(s) (assuming you have found permission to park somewhere in this area.
If/when permission for access/egress is not found from any private property owner around CR565 (to portage and paddle back upstream of HS/SS), on at least one occasion in the past, we parked at a wide spot (short of the bridge over Flopper Creek) on a road back into the woods, hiked down to have a look at the confluence of M.Br.Esc with Flopper Creek (to have a good mental image of what we would be looking for), and used this as a take-out.
If this road has not been gated or posted against trespass (uncertain/unknown at this time), it may be an option. We make no warranty regarding legality of this location. (I.E., do so at your own comfort, risk, and peril).
For anyone wondering what's downstream of all the wonderful action in the listed sections . . . or for anyone unable/unwilling to secure permission to exit the river on the private properties at CR565 . . .
If you continue downstream of HS/SS, you'll have nearly 2.66 miles of flatwater until you encounter a HUGE island splitting the flow. (I have no idea if it has a proper/formal/local name, but I call it Three Mile Island, because it lies almost precisely three river-miles downstream of the CR565 bridge. It is nearly 3/4th square mile or 470 acres in size! At it's widest point, the river channels are nearly 1.2 miles apart!)
The left channel (the wider channel, carrying most of the flow) starts out with a fun combination drop, flanked by scenic rock shores.
I've not paddled the right channel, but it appears to have its best constriction and rapids about a half-mile down from the head of the island.
Other than those, unfortunately you'll find little else exciting . . . maybe a few decent riffles and rips . . . til the currents rejoin (about 2miles downstream from the head of the island!). It will be nothing but flatwater the rest of the way down to Hwy.35 (the next major road crossing).
Your 'last bet' option for take-out is to paddle down to here.