The South Fabius River is a great class I-II run with some great bluffs and some uncharacteristic midwestern flora. At one point (in the first 1/3 of the run) there is a beautiful view on river-right of some large bluffs with huge fir trees and old hardwoods along the top, some with their branches stretching out over the river for a nice skyward view.
This is runable almost year round, but you'll have to do some walking or dragging through the riffles at super low flows. I've run this river at normal (low) flows and it's a great class I float with just a few riffles. We've run this at SUPER high levels as well. (We're talking 9000 cfs -- usual spring flow peaks around 3000 in times of flooding.) The water was super fast but there weren't any features to play on or even surf through, just lots of boils and debris in the water. It was pretty funky and I wouldn't do it again, but it was still doable.
Check out the map for your put ins and take outs. You can extend the run to the Mississippi River, though it is mostly farmland and flatwater past the listed take out at Hwy.61. The South Fabius joins with the Middle and North Forks at a confluence not too far from where they discharge into the Mississippi.
My wife and I floated this yesterday: Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 183 cfs. It is not a scenic river, the water quality is poor (farm and septic run-off), but there are a surprising amount of riffles. I would not float this on a lower cfs as there were some spots that we had no choice but to drag. It was still a good and fun August float and thank-you for bringing it to our attention.
The gauge is located at one of the river access points on an old single lane iron bridge. This is somewhat of a midway point and can be used to make a shorter trip. Below the bridge is less interesting than above it. Since the gauge is in the middle of the run, it's obviously pretty accurate.
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