Location: approximately 24 miles south from Madison.
Shuttle Length: 1.4-8.8 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Rural stream with swiftwater and atypically steady flow (See flow tab).
Uppermost put-in is approximately 867' elevation.
Lowest listed put-in is approximately 811' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 800' elevation.General Overview
A couple of minor rapids (normally just class I) and a few rocks to dodge are the highlights of this small twisty creek. Beginner paddlers from the Madison area find this a handy place to practice in moving water.
It is possible to use different put-in and take-out points for trips of various lengths.
Gradient is relatively negligible on all sections of this stream, so we are not calculating gradient for each option of put-in/take-out.
NOTE: I have received a word of caution that Wild Parsnip is very common in the area. Summer boaters are warned to become familiar with this plant and its effects in order to avoid its unfortunate consequences. ("If the plant juices come in contact with skin in the presence of sunlight, a rash and/or blistering can occur, as well as skin discoloration that may last several months." "Sometimes the area that was burned takes on a dark red or brown discoloration that can last for as long as 2 years.") Two excellent sources for information are Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine or the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide. GO TO THIS LINK FOR A GOOD PHOTO OF WILD PARSNIP: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Parsnip_flowering_second_year%2C_June_2016.jpg
Paddlers should note that flows follow a diurnal pattern, generally peaking from about 10AM until about 2PM, as treated water from the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District is released into the creek. You will likely notice some slight chemical (chlorine) odor when paddling during these times.
In this regard, I have read or heard claims that "up to half" the flow may be MMSD discharge waters, a claim which seems wholly unsubstantiated. Based upon analysis of the diurnal pattern, the 10-til-2 peaks tend to represent 18-28% of the otherwise present flows.
At least a few hardy explorers have ventured to put in this far up (though they largely recommend against bothering to do so). On maps I've seen, this is technically not the Badfish River, but is the "Oregon Branch".
Technically, above this point you are no longer on Badfish Creek (proper), but rather on tributary streams ("branches" which combine at this point to become Badfish Creek). Heading due West is "Rutland Branch", while heading North is "Oregon Branch".
Generally the most-recommended put-in.
Combining this with the most-recommended take-out at Casey Road gives a trip of 6.72 miles.
Generally the most-recommended take-out.
Some paddlers extend their trip to the confluence with the Yahara River, paddling downstream a bit on it to a landing at Hwy.59.
There are two put-ins above 59, Cooksville, Old Stage road and the other a little further up at Old Stone road. Here the Badfish offers the same type of beginner friendly moving water as the listed stretch. These can be combined in to a longer run, maybe 5-7 miles total depending on which you choose. I would recommend them over putting in at 59 because the latter two put-ins are both in protected hunting grounds instead of by the highway. The put-in at Cooksville is on a highway, 138, but at least its not as busy.
5 years ago
U.S.G.S. gauge is on a commonly paddled piece of this creek. Usual summer flow tends to stay between 60-110 cfs.
At 100 cfs, it's a nice training ground for mild whitewater.
At 200 cfs, it approaches Class II.
At 550 cfs, it gets pushy -- you'd better have a quick and reliable backferry to navigate the many bends and twists in this small stream.
The unusually consistent flow (according to the U.S.G.S. site) stems from at least part of the water being outflow from a treatment plant. (Outflow meets clean water standards before entering the river.)
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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