Difficulty II+ at this flow (I-II normally)
Length 7 Miles
Gauge MANITOWOC RIVER AT MANITOWOC, WI
Flow Range 800 - 2000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 37 minutes ago 1610 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/03/2019 6:09 pm

River Description


Quick Facts:

Location: Just west from Manitowoc.
Shuttle Length: 2.3 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: A fine stretch of wide open boulder-bed rapids.

Put-in is approximately 650' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 595' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 55'.

General Overview

Just above I43, paddlers will find 3/4 mile of fairly continuous class I-II rapids. There will be a few really sweet surfable waves (especially at flows of 1000-2000 cfs) but most will be 'catch on the fly', having little or no eddy service. Canoeists and recreational kayakers may extend their trip another three river-miles by continuing down to Schuette Park (Broadway Street at Clay Pit Road), however that stretch contains no additional rapids.

We formerly listed put-in/access from the end of Logwood Lane, right at the start of the gradient. However, some paddlers (likely recreational kayaks and canoeists, and perhaps at least as likely, fishermen and other sportsmen) have had far too little regard for private property. Property owners complained about having their driveway blocked, people walking across lawns (to avoid having to walk through snow in early season, or mud and shrubs at other times), tossing trash (soda and beer bottles and cans), and any number of other totally inexcusable behaviors. While you have the right to be on the water, you do NOT have the right to cross private property to get to the river (no matter how brief it may be to get to the water), unless you first get the owner's permission!

It has been reported that 'No Trespassing' and 'No Parking' signs have been posted all along the end of Logwood Lane, necessitating the use of alternate put-ins. Unfortunately, the next best public access is the bridge at Union Road. Another alternative is putting in on the Branch River. While canoeists and casual recreational paddlers may not mind this additional distance, paddlers wanting to focus more exclusively on whitewater will find that more-than-doubling the length of the trip (with virtually no additional whitewater) will make this reach far less enjoyable. Nearer/shorter access may be possible if permission is sought and obtained from private property owners at other locations backing to the river. However, if you are unwilling to ask, or if a property owner declines allowing access (which is their right!), please use access from one of the listed road bridges.

While a few folks have argued to the contrary, I have found the water quality on this stretch can be very 'iffy'. Yes, it can run as clean as any other Midwest river, especially upon periods of more extended high-flows. However, the drainage is dominated by dairy farms (including, I believe, some 'industrial farms'), and virtually every field in the area is spread with manure all winter. It stands to reason that much of the runoff (especially in early spring, but often quite present from summer thunderstorm flows as well) will contain significant amounts of fecal matter. Recent changes in DNR rules regarding farm practices should help, but I wouldn't expect miracles. Note: this is not intended as a criticism of agricultural practices or the farmers in the area. It is just an advisory for those who may pursue recreation on this river. Keep your mouth closed if you flip or get some significant splash. I would also make sure to shower (ASAP) and thoroughly rinse all gear after being in/on this river.

Rapid Descriptions

Danmar Road (Alternate Put-in#5)

Class - N/A Mile - -6.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Want to explore a bit more? This put-in on the Branch River gives you 6.8 miles to the listed put-in for the lower Manitowoc run. We have no awareness how feasible parking and access are here, nor whether this stretch of the Branch River has any meaningful whitewater. Anyone having first-hand awareness is encouraged to add a comment below to help out your fellow boaters.

Union Road (Alternate Put-in#4)

Class - N/A Mile - -4.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This location on the Manitowoc adds 4.6 miles to the run (for a total of 8.45 miles). This more than doubles the length of the run, and adds mostly flatwater and riffles.

Village Road (Alternate Put-in#3)

Class - N/A Mile - -4.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This alternate put-in is on the Branch River. It adds nearly two miles on the Branch (a fair amount of which lies within a golf course; It is unknown at this time whether cart bridges allow sufficient clearance at boatable flows) and 2.35 miles on the Manitowoc for a total of 4.3 miles more to the run (and a total of 8.15 miles). There are other possible access points, but this location appears to add a fair number of shoals and possibly playable rapids.

Branch River Road (Alternate Put-in#2)

Class - N/A Mile - -3.93
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

From aerial views, this looks unlikely to have adequate shoulders for roadside parking as a put-in. However, it may be advisable (for boaters who may be using a put-in further upstream) to drive by here to check clearance under the golf cart bridge just downstream. (We have no knowledge at present whether it is high enough as to not ever be a hazard to passage. Anyone with first-hand awareness is encouraged to help your fellow boaters by adding a comment below.)

Union Road (Suggested/listed Put-in)

Class - N/A Mile - -3.22
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This may be the shortest access (other than private properties, with permission). It is not known how reasonable parking and river access might be at this location. (Anyone having first-hand awareness is encouraged to help your fellow paddlers by adding a comment below.)

Friday Street

Class - N/A Mile - -2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Property here is all private, but if permission can be obtained to park and access the river, this road and the properties on it are immediately adjacent to the river.

Head of Gradient; Drainage area: ~515 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

The head of the gradient is at a point where Logwood Lane dead-ends at river-right. (Ok, technically, maps actually list the final stub as 3rd Street.)

This was our formerly listed put-in, but bad behaviour by some paddlers has made this area off-limits to all recreational access. As you can see, we have opted to leave all mileage figures (upstream and down) based upon this location, since paddlers may opt for differing put-ins.

Drainage area at this point is about 515 square miles.

USGS Gauge: Drainage: 526 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 3.84
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Gauge is 300' upstream of the listed take-out for this reach, thus should very accurately portray flow in the reach.

As mentioned in the main description, canoists and recreational kayakers often continue their trip downriver of our listed take-out. However, there are no additional rapids of any note (maybe a few minor riffles), so most whitewater paddlers will prefer to exit here.

Comments

Gage Descriptions

Gauge is at take-out.
Listed 'minimum recommended flow' (800 cfs) is based only upon the '10% flow'. The wide, rocky rips of this stretch will become decidedly boney at low flows.
Listed 'maximum recommended flow' (2000 cfs) is based only upon general levels above which rivers around here are likely to become rather 'pushy', and beginner/novice paddlers may find themselves in increased danger. The river is certainly paddleable much higher than this.

I have boated this reach at levels from 1000 cfs to 3000 cfs, and all are quite fine for moderately-experienced whitewater paddlers.
Drainage area at gauge: 526 sq.mi.
Gauge/flow analysis (based on data from 1972.07.26 through 2008.09.26)
Minimum mean daily flow during gauge period (1989.10.04): 7 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 30 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 800 cfs
Maximum mean daily flow during gauge period (1979.03.31): 8,000 cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 27 (under 3 is fairly steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Days per year over recommended minimum (800 cfs): 37
Days per year over recommended maximum (2000 cfs): 6

Offseason ("Ice") stage/gauge correlation:
8.48' ===> 2200 cfs
8.24' ===> 2000 cfs
7.92' ===> 1750 cfs
7.58' ===> 1500 cfs
7.00' ===> 980 cfs
6.50' ===> 736 cfs
6.00' ===> 538 cfs
5.50' ===> 352 cfs

Directions Description


Those wanting a longer trip (adding three river-miles) may wish to extend down to Broadway at Clay Pit Road. Enter 44.0978 -87.6948 into the text-entry box to get shuttle directions from this location.

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Rob

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1211611 04/01/19 Rob updated image position
1211844 04/03/19 Rob updated image position
1201949 04/08/13 Rob delist downstream 3mi; add comment/concern regarding listed put-in
1202059 05/08/13 Rob Minor edit.
1203040 01/31/14 Rob Edit to emphasize put-in concerns.
1203326 04/26/14 Rob minor edits
1208702 01/09/18 Rob remove table from gauge description, putting info into simple statement/paragraph form.
1204721 06/17/15 Rob Remove Logwood Lane as Put-in
1194947 04/06/09 n/a n/a
1195411 06/09/09 Rob
1197994 08/04/10 Rob Add featured photo
1195413 06/09/09 Rob
1197993 08/04/10 Rob Minor changes to description.
1200744 10/14/11 Rob Minor edit (info about lower reach).