Waupaca River I

County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
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July 9, 2011

Class Difficulty:
Riffles + Class I

Waupaca: ht/ft: 1.65 | cfs: 265

Recommended Levels:
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.

Related Information
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
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
Overview: Wisconsin Guides
Wikipedia: Waupaca River


View Waupaca River in a larger map

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:

The put-in at County Highway Q.

The shallows.

Covered bridge.

Brainards Bridge Park.

The take-out at Brainards Bridge Park. The cord hanging across the water is not normally there. That was the power cord to the deejay's speakers for the wedding.

Comments (5)

just last week i scouted this same route, put in and take out, i was wondering if this was a doable river section and now I know it is! mg 9/25/11

Glad to hear we could help. It's a great paddle. Enjoy!

3 of us put in at hwy Q and Cobbtown Rd and we went down to our property which is halfway between Reek Rd bridge and the Weyauwega dam. Took us about 8 hours. Long trek for a guy that just bought a kayak and started 2 weeks prior. Arms were pretty sore but we all loved the trip. Bottom of my brand new kayak took a bit of a beating.

Wow, sounds like quite the trip and what a way to break in your new boat (the first dings and scratches are the toughest)! Thanks for sharing!

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