Grant River I
Short Cut Road to County Road U
☆ ☆ ☆
Expectations were high for our first trip to the Grant. While beautiful and scenic, there was an awful lot of flat water paddling but it was still a wonderful day in the driftless.
May 23, 2009
Riffles + Class I
Gauge note: No gauge reading recorded at the time of this trip.
We recommend a minimum of 175 cfs to avoid scrapping.
Short Cut Road (not Porter-Hill Rd. as the book suggests), West of Lancaster, Wisconsin
County Road U bridge, South of Beetown, Wisconsin
Time: Put in at 11:15a. Out at 3:30p.
Total Time: 4h 15m
Miles Paddled: 11.25
What we liked:
On our first visit to the Grant, we chose to paddle Grant River 1 following the book Paddling Southern Wisconsin by Mike Svob. It’s a pretty little river with numerous sections of continuous riffly/rapid areas as well as a couple intense curves that push you intimately close to rock walls (and might give the beginning paddler a heart palpitation depending on water levels).
The put-in on this section of the Grant is on Short Cut Road, not Porter-Hill Road as indicated in the book. The take-out is off Blackjack Road which leads down under the County U bridge (A note on the take-out below).
As expected in this driftless area of Wisconsin, the rock bluffs were beautiful and the wildlife was interesting. We surprised some huge fish, one that I almost had to fend off with my paddle (I’m guessing it was a musky) and we saw a Gar for the first time. It was laying lifeless on a shallow rocky shore. Crazy looking guy (at first I thought it was a dead snake).
We camped at Grant River Recreational Area not too far from the charming little city of Potosi (home of that beloved Snake Hollow IPA). It’s a federal campsite, run by the Army Corp., and we were very lucky to get a spot as it’s full 24/7. Get ready for RV campers, kids (lots of them), dogs (even more of them) and a train that runs through the campsite all day and night, every hour blaring its horn.
The camp was so full in fact that we were asked to share our site with a late-arrival on a bike. Her name was Julie and she was making her way from Madison to Denver on her first cross-country bike trip, a sort of post-college expedition. There is evidence of her travels and us crossing paths somewhere on crazyguyonabike. I can’t find her blog anymore but I did follow it for a time afterwards to see if she made it. 18 days later, she did.
What we didn’t like:
There are a few long miles of flat, flat, water. It made for more work than fun which was something we weren’t counting on. Also, the river is entirely surrounded by private property. The local canoe company wasn’t very approachable at first. We were outsiders on their territory (and not spending money with them). Once we greased the wheels, this toothless fellow allowed us to park in their customer parking at the take-out point but wanted $5 to use the stairs. We declined since we could use the rock take-out directly below the bridge.
If we did this trip again:
I think we had much greater expectations for the Grant going in but it really is a beautiful, peaceful little river. We would probably paddle the second part of this section again, which is considerably more riffly but we’d choose a different take-out.
Grant River II: County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road
Grant River III: Short Cut Road to County Road U
Grant River IV: County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road
Miles Paddled Video: Grant River IV: County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road
Camp: Nelson Dewey State Park
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Overview: Wisconsin Guides
Video: Tom Lindblade
Wikipedia: Grant River
Miles Paddled Video: