Waupaca River I
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
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The Waupaca River has always been a favorite for paddlers in Central Wisconsin and it’s easy to understand why. It’s a very clean, swift-moving river with plenty of boulder gardens and other features to keep things interesting throughout the journey.
July 9, 2011
Riffles + Class I
Waupaca: ht/ft: 1.65 | cfs: 265
We recommend this level.
County Highway Q, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Brainards Bridge Park, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Time: Put in at 12:15a. Out at 3:45p.
Total Time: 3h 30m
Miles Paddled: 7.75
What we liked:
The Waupaca River has always been a favorite for paddlers in Central Wisconsin and we completely get why now. It’s a very clean, swift-moving river with plenty of boulder gardens and other features to keep it interesting throughout the journey. We are commonly attracted to riffles and a class I now-and-then to keep the paddle exciting and the Waupaca offers a great variety of both. The route we took was based on Mike Svob’s write-up of Waupaca River II in his book Paddling Southern Wisconsin.
The put-in at County Q is very nice. It’s easy to find, plenty of parking, manicured nicely and has just enough rocks to get you in your boat.
The current is swift and is felt from the moment you put in but never so much so that it will put you in harms way (into a strainer). The bottom of the river shifts from sand to a rocky bottom throughout the trip. Not having paddled it before we’re not sure how to gauge the height of the water. We did get stuck a couple of times but a simple scoot got us moving again and there were no portages. The paddle is definitely not remote. You’ll hear the sound of the highway and eventually the city almost throughout the entire trip but it doesn’t detract from the experience (well, unless that kind of thing really bugs you).
The take-out is at Brainards Bridge Park and it’s an absolutely gorgeous park and ending to a paddle. So beautiful in fact, there was a wedding being held there that afternoon which made for a lot of humorous movie-plot discussion throughout our paddle as to whether we were going to crash the wedding. Anyway, we’ve never seen a more perfect take-out.
What we didn’t like:
So regarding the aforementioned wedding… Not wanting to tarnish anybody’s big day, we decided to forgo the last few rapids and take out before we made our way into any wedding pictures. Kind of a bummer but we hope the marriage is a long and successful one.
If we did this trip again:
We would definitely recommend this section. It was a great paddle on a beautiful day in Central Wisconsin. We’re very curious if other sections are equally, if not more exciting. The next paddle in the area would likely be Waupaca River I, as written about in Svob’s book.
Waupaca River II: County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
Waupaca River III: County Highway DD to County Highway Q
Waupaca River IV: County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
Waupaca River V: Amherst to Durrant Road
Waupaca River VI: Weyauwega to Decker Memorial County Park
Tomorrow River: Rolling Hills Road to Amherst
Miles Paddled Video: County Highway DD to County Highway Q
Camp: Hartman Creek State Park
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Outfitter: Adventure Outfitters
Outfitter: Ding’s Dock
Wikipedia: Waupaca River
Miles Paddled Video: