River Paddled: Wisconsin
Trip Date: July 8, 2021
Pine Bluff Rd
Parking space with a landing on the left side of the water making for an easy put in.
Parking lot, with both a dock and a landing on the left side of the water making for an easy takeout.
Paddle Length: 10.5 miles
Paddle Duration: 3.25 hours
Gradient: ~3 feet per mile. It had a solid current most of the way, dropping off a bit towards the end of this section, but still plenty to make for easy paddling.
Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: located just downstream of the dam in Merrill, WI, about 8 miles upstream of this trip's put in.):
|USGS Stream Gage Number||Discharge Rate||Gage Height||USGS Link|
|05395000||1730 CFS||4.58 Feet||05395000 Gage Info|
Our Experience Paddling This Segment of the Wisconsin at These Levels
The water level was never an issue, which isn't a surprise for the Wisconsin River.
Pine Bluff - Foerester Park
Planning: The Wisconsin River spans much of the state of Wisconsin, starting at Lac Vieux Desert by the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and taking a south by southwest path all the way to the Mississippi River. Mike Svob has 20, mostly successive, trips of the Wisconsin River mapped and outlined in his books Paddling Northern Wisconsin and Paddling Southern Wisconsin. I used his seventh trip in Paddling Northern Wisconsin to plan for a 10.5 mile trip from Pine Bluff road to Gilbert Park in Wausau.
Paddling: The river was wide and deep enough that scraping was never an issue. Winding occasionally occurred but in broader bends. The current was solid early on but dropped off a bit towards the end of this section. A couple class I rapids also occurred, with big boulders to avoid and fun waves to hit with lots of open river to choose from in experiencing these rapids.
Observations: The river has decent clarity with a dark brown color and tint around the surface and a lighter orangeish red color to the sandy bottom. There were some vegetation, rock beds, and boulders in the mix as well. A good amount of big islands occurred in this section, while the river banks were consistently lined with trees, with some areas more dense and forming bluffs off of them. Houses were uncommon until nearing the takeout and the city of Wausau, while only one landing and bridge were located in the 10.5 miles between put in and takeout. A railroad also ran along the east side of the river. When I was out there, I only came across one fishing boat and no other paddlers. As for wildlife, I spotted two sandhill cranes, a bald eagle, an osprey, and three deer, with one swimming just downstream of me across the river from one of the big islands.
Reflecting: The year prior, I paddled a section of the lower Wisconsin river, so I was curious to experience a section much farther upstream nearer to the start of the state spanning river and was not disappointed. The current was solid with some fun light rapids, plus some beautiful surroundings, nice access points, and so on. I would definitely recommend this section of the Wisconsin and will continue to check out different sections of this river in future years.
Here are some pictures from this trip: