Mink River
★ ★ ★

Mink River

By on August 20, 2012

Rowley’s Bay
☆ ☆ ☆

A very short and peaceful paddle through one of the most pristine freshwater estuaries in the country, the Mink River is a unique diversion to seek out in Door County.

Date:
August 16, 2012

Class Difficulty:
Lake Paddling + Flatwater

Gauge:
n/a

Recommended Levels:
Considering the estuary is connected to Lake Michigan, levels should always allow for access into Mink River. Lake Michigan levels at the time of this paddle were low (they’ve been dropping for years). It makes for a rocky and shallow entrance/exit to the Mink but hopefully, that’s just temporary.

Put-In + Take-Out:
Rowley’s Bay Resort Dock, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 3:45p. Out at 5:15p.
Total Time: 1h 30m
Miles Paddled: 4.5

Wildlife: Cranes, birds, fish and unidentified vermin.

I (and it seems like everyone else in Southern Wisconsin) have been itching to paddle since recent trips have been bogged down by low water levels. I was headed to Door County for a week and figured surely there must be some water left in the Great Lakes. Traditionally, I’ve been luke-warm to the idea of lake paddling but I had heard about the Mink River Estuary from a few sources. Most notably, a family member who authored the book Exploring Door County which coincidentally happened to be sitting on the bookshelf in our lake house. It was a clear sign that I needed to check it out.

What we liked:
According to The Nature Conservancy, an estuary is an area in which river water mixes with water from a large lake or an ocean and what makes this one so special is the condition it’s been kept in. “Waters from the Mink River and Lake Michigan combine to form this freshwater estuary. The visitor will enjoy a habitat almost identical to that witnessed by the Potawatomi Indians, who lived here more than 100 years ago.”

This intrigued me enough to put the Mink on my to-do list while in the area since it seemed like a such unique place to paddle. From what I could find online, their wasn’t a clear start and end point so this was going to be a back-and-forth paddle.

Before beginning my journey, I had to wait out a storm. The great part of Door County is that there is a lot to see, explore and everything is seemingly 15 minutes away. While tracking the weather, I made my way around the peninsula. I first headed to Peninsula State Park to take in the beautiful view from Eagle Tower (a lookout 250′ above Green Bay) and then to Newport State Park (just because I’m always curious as to what sets our parks apart from each other) and then for the fun of it I traveled to the Washington Ferry port only because I love traveling what I believe is the windiest road I’ve ever been on (and I still contend that it’s the perfect place to film a car commercial).

The rain finally subsided early afternoon so I headed to the put-in at Rowley’s Bay Resort. It’s a nice little place on the bay with a great little retro bar serving up Fat Tire. I had read that they no longer charge a fee to put-in but there was a sign posted requiring a $5.00 fee. Near the dock is a place called Gravity Trails that rents boats and offers zip line tours as well as other activities. I went in to inquire about the fee and was greeted by a girl with a great scandinavian accent. She told me it was only a suggested donation (I chose to donate $5.00 to the bar for a post-paddle Ranger IPA). She was also very helpful in informing me of the suggested route to the river opening from the dock. The water is quite low (it’s been that way for over a year so it’s kind of a “new-normal”). She told me that I could expect a 5-10 minute walk in the shallows between the lake and the entry of the river so she double-checked that I had some good water shoes with me. Once inside the estuary, she said it was beautiful.

So I set out on the lake. There was very little wind but I did enjoy the rolling of the mild waves pushing Southwest. Once I got to the shallows I was able to navigate without portaging (Although, I think I spotted some doubters who were relaxing in the shade at a nearby cabin). Once in the estuary, it’s very peaceful. It’s the kind of place that if you’re into birds and plants, it’s the perfect place to paddle. Unlike the blue hue of Lake Michigan’s shallows, the water is clear and shallow in some places and deep and darker in others. You’re sure to encounter other paddlers enjoying this unique body of water (I came across three) as well as all sorts of creatures popping there heads (or bodies) out of the water as you make your way.

This is a short there-and-back paddle but great for an afternoon. About half-way through, there is a place to stop on the shore which is the official hike-in opening leading from the Mink River Estuary State Natural Area. It’s offers a nice opportunity to take a break, picnic or explore the trails to extend this trip. There was a specific and obvious end to this paddle where the water fell to only a couple inches deep and there was no clear path to the upstream branches that are suggested on the map.

Heading back I wasn’t able to retrace my route and ended up taking that 10 minute walk over the stones that seemingly separate the river from the lake. Heading back into Lake Michigan was spectacular. The sky, the birds, a fishing kayak on the horizon and the force of the waves beneath my boat made for a fun and stunning return entrance to the lake.

What we didn’t like:
Let it be known that when you’re walking (or stuck) on the rocks in the shallows of Lake Michigan, it looks pretty and clear but when you start kicking up the sediment, it smells… real bad.

If we did this trip again:
While lake paddling isn’t my thing, I’m glad I explored the Mink River. There is nothing overly spectacular about it, just pretty and quiet and I can see it appealing to many paddlers. If I’m in the area, I’d definitely consider doing it again especially if the water is higher. I had originally considered it to be a nice diversion from the lake paddling options in Door County but it turns out that the lake portion was one of the best parts of the trip.

***************
Related Information:
Camp: Newport State Park
Camp: Peninsula State Park
General: The Nature Conservancy
General: Wisconsin DNR
Wikipedia: Mink River

Map:


Miles Paddled Video:


Photo Gallery:

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Manchester to Kingston

Grant River

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County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

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Grant River II
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County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

Grant River I
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Short Cut Road to County Road U

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Halls Creek III
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Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Halls Creek II
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Garage Road to Halls Creek Landing

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Bell School Road to County Road DD

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Old Lancaster Road to County Road O

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4.3.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Maunesha River V
4.5.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road TT to Canal Road

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6.13.13 | ☆ ☆
Elder Lane to Twin Lake Road

Maunesha River III
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10.26.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Germania to Lock Road

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Robin Lane to West River Drive

Mill Creek (Iowa)
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Milwaukee River IX
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Milwaukee River VIII
9.29.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Milwaukee River VII
9.30.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fredonia to Grafton

Milwaukee River VI
6.20.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Grafton to County Highway T

Milwaukee River V
6.20.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Newburg to Fredonia

Milwaukee River IV
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Kewaskum to Barton

Milwaukee River III
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Grafton to Thiensville

Milwaukee River II
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Milwaukee River I
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Newburg to Fredonia

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Milwaukee River: East Branch III
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Dundee to Mauthe Lake

Milwaukee River: East Branch II
6.16.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
New Fane to Kewaskum

Milwaukee River: East Branch I
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New Prospect to New Fane

Mink River

Mink River
8.16.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Rowley’s Bay

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake II
10.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Mirror Lake I
5.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Montello River

Montello River
11.8.16-11.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Harrisville to 11th Road

Moon Lake

Moon Lake
6.19.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Montello, Wisconsin

Mormon Creek

Mormon Creek
8.3.14 | ☆ ☆
Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

Morrison Creek

Morrison Creek II
5.5.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cemetery Road to Pettibone Pass

Morrison Creek I
9.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cemetery Road to Morrison Landing

Mukwonago River

Mukwonago River
11.3.15 | ☆ ☆
Mukwonago to Big Bend

Mullet River

Mullet River
10.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Plymouth to County Road M

Namekagon River

Namekagon River
7.16-7.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road K to Riverside

Neenah Creek

Neenah Creek
4.19.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road EE to Oxford

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Nippersink Creek
11.3.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Richmond to Spring Grove

Oconomowoc River

Oconomowoc River III
6.4.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Monches to Okauchee Lake

Oconomowoc River II
4.8.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Avenue to Fowler Lake Park

Oconomowoc River I
6.25.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Concord Road to County Road P

Old Pearl River (LA)

Old Pearl River
4.3.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Crawford Landing Road to Indian Village Road

Onion River

Onion River II
10.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to County Road V

Onion River I
9.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road V to Sheboygan Falls

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch
8.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Watersmeet to Forest Road 5250

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River IV
5.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mifflin to Jones Branch Road

Pecatonica River III
4.16.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Brownton to Winslow

Pecatonica River II
11.15.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Darlington to Red Rock

Pecatonica River I
6.16.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Calamine to Darlington

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Pecatonica River: East Branch V
5.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Woodford to Highway 11

Pecatonica River: East Branch IV
4.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Argyle to Blackhawk Memorial County Park

Pecatonica River: East Branch III
3.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway HK to Hollandale

Pecatonica River: East Branch II
11.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hollandale to Blanchardville

Pecatonica River: East Branch I
9.29.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Blanchardville to Argyle

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch
7.30.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oak Park Road to County Road O

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshekee River
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Peshekee Grade to 3-Mile Mark

Peshtigo River

Peshtigo River
9.2.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burnt Bridge to Goodman Park

Pigeon River

Pigeon River
12.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road J to Lake Michigan

Pine River

Pine River (Lincoln)
9.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Center Road to County Road W

Pine River III (Richland)
7.26.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockbridge to County Road AA

Pine River II (Richland)
5.12.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Krouskop Park to Twin Bluffs Road

Pine River I (Richland)
4.7.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockbridge to County Road AA

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Piscasaw Creek III
4.17.17 | ☆ ☆
Denny Road to Squaw Prairie Road

Piscasaw Creek II
4.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Streit Road to Denny Road

Piscasaw Creek I
4.9.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Maxon Road to Streit Road

Platte River

Platte River Overview
Our Guide to the Platte River

Platte River V
3.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Platte Road

Platte River IV
10.28.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Big Platte Road to Indian Creek Road

Platte River III
11.10.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Platte Road to Big Platte Road

Platte River II
9.22.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to Platte Road

Platte River I
6.19.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to County Road B

Plover River

Plover River
5.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Jordan Park to Iverson Park

Prairie River

Prairie River II
5.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road C to Stange’s Park

Prairie River I
11.17.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Haymeadow Creek to Prairie Road

Puchyan River

Puchyan River
04.19.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road J to Huckleberry Road

Red River

Red River
12.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gresham to County Road A

Red Cedar River

Red Cedar River
5.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Menomonie to Downsville

Robinson Creek

Robinson Creek II
5.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Robinson Creek I
7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Rock Creek

Rock Creek
3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Rock River IV
7.16.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Watertown to Johnson Creek

Rock River III
9.27.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Kanow Park to County Road P

Rock River II
9.21.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Janesville to Beloit

Rock River I (IL)
8.4.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oregon to Dixon

Root River

Root River
8.2.13 | ☆ ☆
5 Mile Road to Horlick Dam

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Root River: South Branch
9.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 5 to Preston Trailhead Park

Rubicon River

Rubicon River
5.27.15 | ☆ ☆
Saylesville to Neosho

Seeley Creek

Seeley Creek
5.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road

Six Mile Creek

Six Mile Creek
6.7.14 | ☆
Waunakee Village Park to South Woodland Drive

Spring Creek

Spring Creek
4.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fair Street to County Road V

St. Croix River

St. Croix River II
8.11.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Osceola to Somerset Landing

St. Croix River I
8.8.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
St. Croix Falls to Osceola

Starkweather Creek

Starkweather Creek
6.08 | ☆
Yahara River to Highway 30

Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek II
4.17.17 | ☆
Bowers Road to State Road 120

Sugar Creek I
4.15.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road ES to Bowers Road

Sugar River

Sugar River Overview
Our Guide to the Sugar River

Upper Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River XII
7.24.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
White Crossing Road to Valley Road

Sugar River X
10.4.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 69 to County Road A

Sugar River IX
3.28.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Belleville

Sugar River VII
9.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Riverside Road to Paoli

Sugar River III
7.22.11 | ☆
Valley Road to Paoli

Sugar River II
7.3.11 | ☆
Paoli to Belleville

Middle Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River XI
11.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Attica to Albany

Sugar River VI
5.18.14 | ☆ ☆
Albany to Brodhead

Sugar River IV
8.11.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road X to County Road EE

Sugar River I
6.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Belleville to County Road X

Lower Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River VIII
9.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Brodhead to Avon

Sugar River V (IL)
9.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Colored Sands Forest Preserve to North Meridian Road

Sugar River: West Branch

Sugar River: West Branch
7.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fritz Road to County Road PB

Token Creek

Token Creek III
5.22.11 | ☆
Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Token Creek II
8.22.09 | ☆ ☆
Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Token Creek I
5.2.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Tomorrow River

Tomorrow River
7.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rolling Hills Road to Amherst

Trappe River

Trappe River
8.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road WW to Wisconsin River Road

Trempealeau River

Trempealeau River II
9.27.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 35 to Perrot State Park

Trempealeau River I
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitehall to Independence

Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek Overview
Our Guide to Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek VI
3.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Fairfield to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek V
6.21.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
School Section Road to O’Riley Road

Turtle Creek IV
6.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Springs Park to School Section Road

Turtle Creek III
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
O’Riley Road to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek II
7.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street

Turtle Creek I
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street

Upper Iowa River (IA)

Upper Iowa River II
5.29.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Kendallville to Bluffton

Upper Iowa River I
5.24.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road

Waupaca River

Waupaca River VI
6.2.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Weyauwega to Decker Memorial Park

Waupaca River V
10.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Amherst to Durrant Road

Waupaca River IV
4.12.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Waupaca River III
9.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway DD to County Highway Q

Waupaca River II
7.7.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Waupaca River I
7.9.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Wausau Whitewater Park

Wausau Whitewater Park
7.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wausau, Wisconsin

Wedges Creek

Wedges Creek
9.20.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Middle Road to Black River Lodge Resort

White River

White River III (Walworth)
3.12.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

White River (Waushara)
11.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road YY to Czech Lane

White River (Bayfield)
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Maple Ridge Road to Highway 112

White River II (Walworth)
6.30.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Wagner Park

White River I (Walworth)
5.15.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

Willow Creek

Willow Creek
8.5.17 + 8.22.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 58 to Dog Hollow Road

Wisconsin River

Lower Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Lower Wisconsin Overview
Our Guide to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway

Wisconsin River VIII
6.22-6.23.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lone Rock to Muscoda

Wisconsin River IV
9.4-9.5.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Prairie Du Sac to Arena

Wisconsin River III
5.29-5.31.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Arena to Gotham

Wisconsin River II
9.5-9.7.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gotham to Boscobel

Wisconsin River I
8.22-8.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Boscobel to Wyalusing State Park

Middle Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Wisconsin River XV
7.11.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Castle Rock Dam to Lyndon Station

Wisconsin River XIV
10.11.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Bay Road to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River XIII
6.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine Island to Portage

Wisconsin River XI
4.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Portage to Dekorra

Wisconsin River IX
10.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin River VII
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Dells to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River VI
8.15.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dekorra to Whalen Bay

Wisconsin River V
6.1.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells

Upper Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Wisconsin River XII
5.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Grandfather Dam to Lokemoen Road

Wisconsin River X
12.2.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine River to Texas

Wolf River

Wolf River III
9.6.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Hollister

Wolf River II
9.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Lily

Wolf River I
8.29.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Langlade

Yahara River

Yahara River Overview
Our Guide to the Yahara River

Upper Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River XII
7.16.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Yahara River XI
4.19.16 | ☆ ☆
Windsor to Highway 113

Yahara River VII
7.22.13 | ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Yahara River V
5.25.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Middle Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River X
3.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mud Lake to Lake Kegonsa

Yahara River IX
12.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Stoughton to Stebbensville Road

Yahara River VIII
12.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Kegonsa to Stoughton

Lower Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River VI
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to County Road H

Yahara River IV
6.6.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Murwin County Park to Janesville

Yahara River III
7.13.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park

Yahara River II
9.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to County Road H

Yahara River I
8.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park

Yellow Creek (IL)

Yellow Creek
4.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bolton Road to Krape Park

Yellow River

Yellow River (Taylor)
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Miller Dam to County Road H

Yellow River (IA)

Yellow River II
5.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Sixteen Road to Highway 76

Yellow River I
5.5.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway X16 to Old Sixteen Road

Zumbro River (MN)

Zumbro River
6.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Zumbro Falls to Millville


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