Difficulty I-II
Length 5 Miles
Flow Range 75 - 350 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 46 minutes ago ~ 35.2 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 07/12/2020 2:13 pm

River Description

Quick Facts:

Location: Approximately 6.7 miles SW from Waupaca.
Shuttle Length: 3.7 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: A shallow stream with (generally) clear water (fed from a lake) has areas of shoals and plenty of twists and turns.

Put-in is approximately 890' elevation (mean elevation of Long Lake/Chain-O-Lakes).
Take-out is approximately 843' elevation (at the Mill Pond in Little Hope).
Thus total elevation change is approximately 47'.

General Overview

The first (and often only) "whitewater" experience many Wisconsinites (and Illinois vacationers) get is a trip to "Dings Dock" to paddle a funky fiberglass (nearly see-through) canoe down the Crystal River. Such trips are common for family groups, youth groups, school groups, et cetera, for a bit of summer fun. Trips start (rather interestingly) with a motor-launch cruise across a lake (the river flows out of the "Chain O' Lakes"), towing the fleet of canoes to the head of the stream.

The intimate stream has numerous tight turns and various rocks and shoals for novice boaters to navigate, though the biggest 'hazard' on the trip will be your fellow boaters, as they delight in ambush and sabatage, to have splash fights and attempt to capsize others' craft. Apparently the former mill dam at our listed take-out has been officially abandoned, and may provide some minor play (as shown by our feature photo above).

Any private boaters who opt to run this reach are therefore advised to do so either before Memorial Day, or on weekdays, to avoid the vacationing novice throngs.

For those interested in a longer trip, the confluence with the Waupaca River is another 7 miles downstream, at just under 800', making this lower stretch average just about 6 feet per mile.

We had 'pegged' this section to the USGS gauge for the Waupaca River near Waupaca to have some online reference to indicate likely water levels. Unfortunately, as of June 2020, USGS has a notice that gauge has been discontinued.

Special Note: The real HUC for this reach should be 04030202. It has been 'faked' below to allow this reach to 'sort' (when listing is pulled up 'by drainage') into the "Southwestern Lake Michigan" rivers, rather than the already bloated list of "Northwestern Lake Michigan" rivers. If this somehow causes problems for anyone using this listing, please send a message to the Regional StreamTeam Leader (which can be done via the "Add a Comment" button which should appear under the "Comments" tab).

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: ~46 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 46 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).


Class - N/A Mile - 1.4
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Main Street / Island

Class - N/A Mile - 1.55
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

At the Main Street bridge, a large island splits the river. The more direct (and likely preferred) route is the left channel.

Rural Road

Class - N/A Mile - 1.7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Junction Lake

Class - N/A Mile - 2
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Private bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 2.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Sanders Road

Class - N/A Mile - 2.7
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Rural Road (Second Crossing)

Class - N/A Mile - 3.57
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Parfreyville Road

Class - N/A Mile - 4.35
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Many folks may prefer taking out here, skipping the remaining flatwater to the pond and dam.

Dam / USGS sampling site: 82 Sq.Mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 5.2

A short dam (maybe 5', with an overhead walkway which precludes any likelihood of running) marks the end of the listed reach. Anyone wishing to continue downstream will portage the dam to continue a lower gradient stretch.

As of late 2014, we have information suggesting this dam has been abandoned and may now be paddled though, allowing some minor play at the base of the outflow.

USGS lists a sampling site near here with drainage area of 82 square miles.


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bryan foster
5 years ago

We canoed this and found the dam to be out of commission near the takeout, for 2 years according to a resident on the old impoundment. However, there appeared to be a decent play wave at the old dam site, which offers a nice park and play from the park/takeout across the road. The 16' coleman was in no shape to do some play in late October, so for now it looks like a tame play wave, and a little shallow. Since it is a park n play I figure someone will eventually check it out. I put a picture up as well from a later date (11/2/14).

Gage Descriptions

Fairly uniform flows are provided by the (largely) spring-fed Chain O' Lakes. Most floaters of this stream choose to do so during summer months (Memorial Day through Labor Day) when virtually all rivers in the state are at their lowest levels, and (not to be an exception) this trip will be a series of pools connected by (likely to be a tad scrapey) shoals.

A (long defunct/unfunded) gauge at the listed take-out location lists drainage area of 82 square miles.

Flows here may correlate to those on Waupaca River at Waupaca. Unfortunately, as of June, 2020, that gauge has gone unfunded. We are now using the Tomorrow River (about 16.5 miles NNW), which has roughly half the drainage area as our put-in here, thus flows *could* be roughly twice that gauge. As always, with reference gauges, correlation is not assured.

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.

No Accident Reports






Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215231 06/11/20 Rob updated description
1215232 06/11/20 Rob updated description
1211868 04/08/19 Rob updated image position
1215523 07/12/20 Rob updated description
1204612 05/03/15 Rob minor change
1194751 05/05/09 Rob n/a
1200913 12/30/11 Rob Embed YouTube video; add waypoints.
1203308 04/22/14 Rob Add drainage area info.
1211590 04/01/19 Rob updated image position
1213760 09/28/19 Rob updated description