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Difficulty I-II at this flow (I-II normally)
Length 10 Miles
Gauge Winnebago River at Mason City, IA
Flow Range 400 - 1500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 41 minutes ago 868 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/01/2009 2:42 pm

River Description


The put-in is in East Park in Mason City. There is plenty of parking available.

You don't have to paddle to far before you head south around a bend and the water starts to pick up speed. As the river turns back eastward, the first rapids appear. Surf and Turf are the first two rapids and provide clean surfing at lower levels with easy eddy service. At higher flows they form into very nice wave trains with big foam and deep troughs for a quick bouncy ride.

You'll have a bit of flat water to contend with before you reach the next feature. You will pass by the water treatment plant on the south side of the river and then you are getting close. Warm-up wave forms up nicely here, but there isn't much in the way of eddy service. At higher flows, you'll have a hard time staying here. Float on down around the corner though and you'll find a much better setup.

Split River has two very surfable waves at nearly all levels, though I am guessing that the small island goes underwater at about 1250 CFS which may kill the perfect eddy that is there nearly all the time. River left is a nice foam wave with an easy slide in and out while River right usually forms into a big glassy wave that is friendly to short and long boats alike. The eddy is a bit harder to get back into from the river right wave, but it can be done.

There is another small wave that forms below this area, but I need to take better notes next time I run the river so that I can map it out correctly. As I recall, it is good for beginners to surf and is easy to slide in with a nice small wave train behind and an easy eddy along river left.

After that, you have some more flat water (but not too much) before you round the bend and come to the Averydale Access. Two different waves form up here with some space in between that makes for easy play in groups. Also, there is a nice parking area right next to the river here for folks who want to park & play or use it as a take out for a shorter run than the full one listed.

If you continue from here, there is only one additional solid wave ahead called Big Gully Rapid, which is a bit of a misnomer as it is pretty much just a river wide solid wave. The float is worth doing, if you have never done it, as you pass along some beautiful low bluffs with quick water. There is usually a small waterfall pouring in on river left at one point, and if you are paying attention, at flows about 1200 CFS you might be able to sneak through a breach in the cliff wall carved out by the river (short boats only I am betting).

After Big Gully Rapid, the river slows down and you have a pretty calm float to the Wren Avenue take-out. The scenery is still nice as you pass by Claybanks State Park on the south bank and there is plenty of wildlife to be seen.

Rapid Descriptions

'Surf' and 'Turf'

Class - N/A Mile - 0.77
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Two waves, 'Surf' and 'Turf'. Clean surfing at lower levels with easy eddy service. At higher flows they form into very nice wave trains with big foam and deep troughs for a quick bouncy ride.

Warm-up Wave

Class - N/A Mile - 2.54
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

There isn't much in the way of eddy service. At higher flows, you'll have a hard time staying here. Float on down around the corner though and you'll find a much better setup.

Split River Waves

Class - N/A Mile - 2.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Two very surfable waves at nearly all levels, though I am guessing that the small island goes underwater at about 1250 CFS which may kill the perfect eddy that is there nearly all the time. River-left is a nice foam wave with an easy slide in and out while river-right usually forms into a big glassy wave that is friendly to short and long boats alike. The eddy is a bit harder to get back into from the river right wave, but it can be done.

Averydale Access Waves

Class - N/A Mile - 3.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

These are the final play on the short reach (there is one additional wave downstream on the long reach) or, these waves can be done as a park-and-play.

Averydale Access

Class - N/A Mile - 3.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

There is a nice parking area right next to the river here for folks who want to park & play or use it as a take out for a shorter run than the full one listed.

Big Gully Rapid

Class - N/A Mile - 7.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

As Big Gully (a creek) enters from river-right, you encounter a fine little wave. (The name is a bit of a misnomer; this is not really a 'rapids', but a river wide solid wave.)

After Big Gully Rapid, the river slows down and you have a pretty calm float to the Wren Avenue take-out. The scenery is still nice as you pass by Claybanks State Park on the south bank and there is plenty of wildlife to be seen.

Comments

Gage Descriptions

600-900 CFS offers the best surf potential. Above that, the waves are still surfable but pushy and some of them become less defined and choppy. The river is still a great run up to about 1500 CFS and moves quickly for most of the entire run.

Permits

NA

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

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Steve Weliver

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Rob

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1194179 04/19/08 Steve Weliver n/a
1195232 06/01/09 Rob