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Grant River in Wisconsin

Trip Overview

For Midwest paddlers who enjoy small, winding, and peaceful rivers here is a trip to put on your to-do list. Between the upper and lower sections we ran about 17 miles. The upper half is the more scenic with banks being mostly tree lined with several rock bluffs along the way. Once away from the put-in area houses are virtually non existent and if you are a fan of road noises and other reminders of civilization you are sure to be disappointed.

To hear the many birds sing, crickets chirp, and the rustle of leaves on the trees was quite relaxing. We encountered several small groups of ducks, a couple of Herons, and one startled deer along the way. Just to make sure you don't become so relaxed you drift off; there are several riffles and easy rapids created by small rock gardens. Actually with the river being a tad low a few more inches of water would have been better but all were passable with no portages. The lower section while still enjoyable has more cornfields along the way and a few cars could be heard traveling the back roads. And how can you be sure you are paddling in the Midwest? You have to stop to let a herd of cows cross the river in front of you.

As for access points, while not ideal for kayaks I've used much worse. They are all near bridges, however put-in for the upper section is just down a bank off of a gravel road {Short cut road to the East of off Hwy 81} and parking may present a problem.

We used Grant River Canoe Rental for shuttle service {reasonable fees} and avoided this problem. They were friendly and helpful, offering suggestions regarding a challenging area of the river that narrows quite a bit and has a rock hazard to avoid. There are a couple different options for take out points but the easiest would be just downstream right from the Ridge road bridge. This is about a mile and a half upstream of where we took out, but Grant River Canoe would have to be contacted to find out if the take out further downstream is on public or private property. All and all, this was a fun trip that we definitely will do again.


Lancaster, Wisconsin is 15 minutes away and has 3 or 4 motels to choose from, while Dickeyville is about 30 minutes and also offers a couple motel choices. As for camping, my Wisconsin atlas shows a campground about 5 minutes northwest of Lancaster but does not give this park a name. Otherwise, Nelson Dewey State Park is not far to the south and west near Cassville on the Mississippi.


Consulting a DeLorme atlas for Wisconsin is recommended. From Lancaster take Hwy 81/35 south. Just after crossing the Grant River Bridge Hwy 81 splits from 35 to the left. Just after this left turn look for Short Cut road to the left. A short way down this gravel road the river swings around to parallel the road and this is where the shuttle service dropped us off. The put in is down a short grassy bank. As for take out, the first available would be the bridge access near County Hwy U, just off of Blackjack Road on the right bank. This is approx. 9 miles down river from the put in. The next {approx. 6 river miles downstream} would be the bridge access on Ridge Road again on the right bank downstream of the bridge. Ridge road is off of County Hwy U a few miles southeast of Blackjack Road.


Wisconsin atlas by DeLorme

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip