Great Pinery Heritage Waterway

by  drbowen
  • Great Pinery Heritage Waterway

    Great Pinery Heritage Waterway


A self-supported trip created by drbowen

Trip Overview

The Great Pinery Heritage Waterway is an overarching water trail that consist of three rivers located in Central Wisconsin. The Wisconsin River Trail is 108 miles in length starting at the Hat Rapids Dam in Oneida County and ending in Portage County at the Lake DuBay Dam. Portions of the trail hold scenic wonders as it flows over rapids and rock outcropping, through primeval pine and hardwood forest, and along the Ice Age Trail.

The trail beckons us back to a time when the Miami, called the great river, Meskonsing. When European explorers and missionary Father Jacques Marquette entered it in his journal in June 1673 during the voyage, he made by canoe with fur trader Louis Joliet across Wisconsin and down the Mississippi River.

The great river is never far from our imagination, fast flowing, scenic in its northern segments to urban and industrial as it flows south through cities that once had names such as Jenny Falls, Big Bull, and Little Bull Falls. The river has always been a gateway to the north, to the “Great Pinery” the great boreal forest that blanketed the lands to the great lake, the Chippewa called, Gitchi Gami.

In the 1870’s the river earned a new name as the “Hardest Working River in the World” when men with names like Stevens, McIndoe, Barker, and Stewart put the river to work sawing lumber for the cities and homes of the Midwest. In 1907 the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company was established as a group of private interests to manage and regulate the flow of the Wisconsin River so that hydroelectric energy and the papermaking industry could develop and flourish.

Today, the Wisconsin has returned to its beginnings offering the paddler an adventure not soon forgotten!

Trail Vitals: 108 miles in length with 24 designated landings along its length, two state parks, state, and county forests, six dam portages, primitive camping, wildlife and natural areas, hiking and biking trails that border its banks, amenities galore, historical bridges and dams, Class I-III rapids, adjoining Class I trout streams, and a Frank Lloyd Wright home that graces its banks!

The Lower Big Rib River Trail starts its 17 mile journey in Marathon City at Lions Park as it flows east to join the Wisconsin River at Bluegill Bay Park on Lake Wausau. Joshua Hathaway in his 1839 government survey of the lands bordering the Wisconsin River between Pointe Basse and Big Bull Falls mentioned the Big Rib River for the first time.

The river flows over sand and gravel bars and along heavily wooded banks that give the river an “up north” feeling of seclusion and adventure. Heron, ducks, and deer are common along its banks and the river fails to disappoint the angler for smallmouth and walleye.

Trail Vitals: 17 miles in length with three landings along its length ending at Bluegill Bay Park, a historical bridge, and wildlife viewing

The Lower Eau Claire River Water Trail starts its 15 mile journey at the Clubhouse Road landing on the south side of the bridge and flows through boulder fields, and scenic landscapes before entering Lake Wausau just west of the historic Brooks and Ross dam. The trail passes by historical bridges, flowing through the Eau Claire River Conservancy giving the trail an “everglade” like feeling as one paddles around cattails and reeds before exiting at the Drott Street Landing where once stood one of the first sawmills in the Northwoods and having the claim to fame of cutting one of the largest and oldest white pines in the state, germinating in or around 1500.

Trail Vitals: 15 miles in length with four landings, one dam portage, natural areas, historic bridges and ending in Lake Wausau where it joins the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway.

Portage Notes

============================== Hat Rapids Hydro Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Wisconsin River Mileage Marker: 87 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Take Out: 45°34'16.6"N 89°28'52.1"W Put In: 45°34'16.6"N 89°28'52.1"W ============================== King’s Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: Tomahawk Power & Pulp Wisconsin River Mileage Marker: 104 Portage: The portage is on the right side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 500 feet Take Out: 45°28'52.1"N 89°40'48.1"W Put In: 45°29'00.3"N 89°41'00.9"W ============================== Tomahawk Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Mileage Marker: 111 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 300 feet Take Out: 45°26'37.0"N 89°43'41.6"W Put In: 45°26'33.5"N 89°43'43.1"W ============================== Grandmother Falls Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: PCA Wisconsin River Mileage Marker: 118 Portage: The portage is on the right side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 500 feet Take Out: 45°22'02.0"N 89°43'51.0"W Put In: 45°21'58.2"N 89°43'49.3"W ============================== Grandfather Falls Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Wisconsin River Mileage Marker: 124 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 1760 feet Take Out:45°18'13.7"N 89°47'12.2"W Put In: 45°18'03.8"N 89°47'31.6"W ============================== Alexander Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Mileage Marker: 134 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 800 feet Both Take Out and Put In are located in Council Grounds State Park. Take Out: 45°11'27.4"N 89°44'59.0"W Put In: 45°11'13.2"N 89°45'09.1"W ============================== Merrill Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Mileage Marker: 138 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 600 feet Take Out: 45°10'45.3"N 89°41'10.0"W Put In: 45°10'43.3"N 89°41'03.1"W ============================== Wausau Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: WPS Wisconsin River Mileage Marker: 160 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 400 feet Take Out: 44°57'32.6"N 89°38'01.4"W Put In: 44°57'28.0"N 89°38'02.9"W ============================== Rothschild Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: DOMTAR Mileage Marker: 166 Portage: The portage is on the right side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 1760 feet Take Out: 44°53'39.8"N 89°37'35.3"W Put In: 44°53'31.3"N 89°37'46.7"W ============================== Mosinee Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: AHLSTROM Mileage Marker: 176 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 1.2 miles Take Out at Mosinee Canoe Portage Park Put In at Chuck's Boat Landing Take Out: 44°47'36.4"N 89°41'33.9"W Put In: 44°47'13.3"N 89°42'18.4"W ****************************************** Portage Instructions At Take Out Location On Sign ****************************************** Lift phone and wait for Ahlstrom-Munksjo Security Guard to answer. Please tell the guard your name and number of people and canoes/kayaks in your party. It will take around 45 minutes to mobilize our equipment. If the phone is damaged, please refer to the map attached to this board and follow the instructions to make your request known. In the event both options fail, use another phone and dial 715-692-3305. DO NOT proceed down river without securing Ahlstrom-Munksjo help with your portage. To do so could endanger your life. To proceed beyond the buoys is a violation of the city's ordinance and you will be subject to a fine. This information courtesy of Ahlstrom-Munksjo Mosinee, WI 715-693-2111. This part of the river is Ahlstrom-Munksjo Project No. 2207 licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. ****************************************** ============================== Lake DuBay Dam Portage ============================== Dam Owner: CONSOLIDATED POWER Mileage Marker: 190 Portage: The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream Portage Length: 704 feet Take Out: 44°40'00.3"N 89°38'56.8"W Put In: 44°39'52.5"N 89°38'53.8"W

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 5/1/2022-9/30/2022
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing, Kayak Fishing
  • Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Number of Portages: 11

Trip Location