Waupaca River II
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
A wonderfully fun and twisty river with lots of riffles and a billion boulder gardens located on the outskirts of downtown Waupaca, in central Wisconsin.
July 7, 2012
Riffles + Class I
Waupaca: ht/ft: 1.47 | cfs: 180
We recommend this level.
County Highway Q, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Brainards Bridge Park
Time: Put in at 3:00p. Out at 6:30p.
Total Time: 3h 30m
Miles Paddled: 7.75
Wildlife: Great blue herons, big fish and I want to say an otter but it was probably a muskrat.
Time worth driving to: 2 hours. Caveat: there are lots of other rivers in this area of the state; the Tomorrow, Waupaca, Wolf, Little Wolf, Mecan, etc., so I would recommend some kind of combination.
Since this section of the Waupaca has been written about already, I won’t dabble in too much detail. Even though the water level was rated low on the USGS site, the river was still plenty paddleable. The boulder gardens are great fun and good practice. In higher, faster water, this river could be just about thrilling while still plenty safe.
What we liked:
Fun riffles and great boulder gardens! Unlike my Miles Paddled predecessor, I had no wedding expecting me at my boulder-rumbled conclusion at the picturesque Brainards Bridge Park. Not to be outdone, there was a family reunion and I was serenaded to (and the spectacle of) a 1-2-3 waltz of accordions and polka tunes!
Also, Hartman Creek State Park is a pretty park with good camping that’s only like 3 miles away from the put-in.
And for geology lovers and hikers, the put-in is very close to one of the area’s several Ice Age Trail segments (including the state park above).
What we didn’t like:
Honestly, nothing. It’s a great river!
Note: Mike Svob’s directions to the Brainards Bridge Park are unnecessarily nuanced. I was new to the area so when I’m told to go “west” on an unknown street when I have no idea what direction I’m headed in the first place is frustrating. Allow me to break it down more simply: Once you’re off Highway 10, you’ll be on Highway 49 (aka W. Fulton St) and then see a sign telling you to turn LEFT onto Highway 49 (Huh?). It’s true. Once you turn left onto Highway 49 (now aka N. Harrison St), you’ll be heading due north. Turn LEFT onto River St, which will stop at Bailey Street. Turn RIGHT onto Bailey. The park will be immediately on your left. If you cross over the river, you’ve gone too far. You’ll see signs for a “Swan Park,” which is nearby but not quite the same thing as Brainards Bridge Park.
If we did this trip again:
As long as I am in the area (or nearby), I will and probably add a stretch of the section upstream of the Cobb Town Road/County Q bridge.
Waupaca River I: 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
6.75 miles. A lovely pedal (on bike) surrounded by farmland and rolling hills. No crazy-steep hills to contend with but just enough to make it all feel like a decent workout.
Miles Paddled Video: