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Willow River in Wisconsin

Trip Overview

I just wanted to update paddlers on the Willow River,as the last report is outdated... river conditions now are not very favorable for a nice trip...

The river itself is fine... you can put in at the park at Hwy 64, river left...

But you won't be in your boat long! The snags begin within a 1/4 mile... you can't paddle around them, they extend all the way from one steep bank to the next. Portaging on the bank is impossible due to the steep banks, and lots of poison ivy...

Now before anyone says, "Just drag your boat over the Snag, dummy".... Let me say... we did... and some were very difficult, over 5 feet high... with dangerous holes created immediately before them... If you were to get out of your boat and slip into a hole, you could get stuck in the strainer, and be in trouble... We had small creek boats and it was still very problematic to get over the huge piles that extended full width. There must have been a hellacious storm, as many of the trees are large,and stack up all the wood that strains out...

The river is beautiful, easy to handle, a small trout actually jumped into my boat(!) in a riffle section...

But the trip turned into a survivor episode.. sometimes we wouldn't be in the boat for more than 500 feet before the next totally impassable strainer... with sharp beaver sticks, quicksand, deep sucker holes... After you climb the log pile, you basically have to throw your boat back down into the river and then jump in after it... my Dagger Edisto (with a bike on it) almost got away once, I had to jump in and swim after it...

So the trip took 3 times as long as it should have, we were exhausted from crossing 20-30 BIG snags... maybe more...

It is too bad, cause the river is sweet... and if someone went through with a chainsaw (illegal, I hear)... and just cleared a boat-wide lane, it would be a nice paddle!

As it is, it's almost impossible to paddle, even with a light creek boat... in a canoe with gear you would really be screwed... I am not a wimp, I race bikes, and do some whitewater, but this river is so clogged up it is not worth doing until someone clears a passage through the never ending ,huge, snag piles...

The New Richmond Chamber of Commerce could see lots of paddlers in town if this was cleared up just a little. As it is,I would rate it: AVOID>>






From Minneapolis, take Hwy 36 through Stillwater, then turn right on 64 into Wisconsin, through Somerset and to New Richmond. You will drive right over the bridge where you put in, and there is a little park on your right. This is the junction of 64 and County A.

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

Locations on this Trip

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