Beaver Dam River – Wisconsin [May 2020]

River Paddled: Beaver Dam River

Trip Date: May 30, 2020

Put In

Highway S Bridge

Side of the road parking. Not a designated access spot at the bridge, but doable.

Take Out

Lowell Dam

Parking lot with easy takeout at a small ramp on river right just before the dam.

Paddle Length: 11.3 miles

Paddle Duration: 3.5 hours

Gradient: ~2 feet per mile. Decent current most of the way.

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: Beaver Dam gauge, located 4-5 miles upriver of the put in of this section):

USGS Stream Gage NumberDischarge RateGage HeightUSGS Link
05425912 350 CFS 841.2 Feet 05425912 Gage Info

Our Experience Paddling This Segment of the Beaver Dam River at These Levels

Paddling at this water level went well. There weren't any log jams, tight squeezes, or serious hazards to avoid. And the current at this water level was decent until flattening out in this final stretch.

Paddling Experience

This was a pretty flat, mud banked River not offering much of a thrill for a paddling experience. But it had a decent current at times, until the final 3 miles or so of it being completely flat.

Natural Scenery

Trees typically surrounded the River, but not much far beyond the banks of it. There were some more open areas, yet only a handful of developing signs of people.


For what the natural scenery lacked, the wildlife made up for. Several eagles were spotted, along with a big turtle and two deer.

Highway S Bridge - Lowell Dam

Paddling the Beaver Dam River could mean stretches of rapids or flat water depending on where you go. I chose the flat water, being concerned over the intensity of rapids or other hazards in the urban area upriver. This meant parking at Lowell Dam and having to walk along a county road with packraft and all to my put in at the town to the north in Leipsig. My plan was to put in at Canary road bridge but it wasn’t a great option for carry in access, so I came to the next bridge downriver of county road S. This worked well enough and I was able to get on the river, strapping my backpack down to the top and front of my packraft.
Paddling on the Beaver Dam wasn’t anything special but nice for what it was. It was basically flat water with some current to it, but no downed trees or hazards making for obstacles or tight squeezes. The most challenging obstacle was actual a low bridge, that while laying flat on my packraft gave me only a couple inches of clearance. This could be mean an actual portage at higher waters. But it was a pretty secluded trip both in terms of actual people and development. I was the only paddler out there and only came across one house and a handful of shacks or hunting blinds. As for wildlife, I spotted several eagles, a big turtle, and two deer, one coming out of the river and running off. The water was pretty brown and not the clearest but the green leaves of the trees on the banks seemed to improve the look of it. The river width fluctuated with several creeks coming in at times from both sides along with some more flooded sections. Paddling felt the same until the last stretch of about three miles leading up to the dam. The water flattened out even more, making paddling more of a grind or workout to end with.
Takeout at Lowell Dam went smooth, aside from there being a bunch of people there hanging out or fishing. It had a small landing off on river right just before the dam that was easy to get to. And the landing connected to the parking lot and made for an easy transition. Overall, my time on this section of the Beaver Dam River was enjoyable most of all for the solitude it produced this day out on the river.