Grant River II
County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The best of the southwest, this segment of the Grant offers more riffles than stunning rock outcroppings (though it’s not lacking in the latter) and is more cow country than hidden canyon lands but it is every bit as beautiful as the upstream section.
November 21, 2012
Riffles + Class I
Burton: ht/ft: 4.90 | cfs: 100
This is too low to paddle. Instead, we recommend a minimum of 175 cfs.
County Road U bridge (Just off Blackjack Road), South of Beetown, Wisconsin
Chaffie Hollow Road
Time: Put in at 1:30p. Out at 3:30p.
Total Time: 2h
Miles Paddled: 8.75
Wildlife: At least nine spottings of bald eagles, a couple hawks, circling turkey vultures and five leaping deer scrambling up the bluffs.
A cloudless 60-degree day before Thanksgiving and a day off inspired me to drive two hours to one of my favorite rivers in southern Wisconsin. Everything went wonderfully but for the fact that I lost my camera at the takeout. I left my bicycle to pedal back the shuttle route after the paddle, so I never did take any pics of this trip except for two at the takeout (both of them absolute beauties of the parking area and landing). Incidentally, if anyone finds a Panasonic Lumix camera at the takeout, ideally before the first snow, kindly email me, wouldya?
Notwithstanding the speculated prohibitions about access mentioned in the Grant River I write-up, there are no restrictions or trespassing signs at the take-out. That said, both landings are privately owned and maintained by a local outfitter, so please be considerate and respectful and don’t park your vehicle in a way that blocks their shuttle access. Both landings are just about perfect and well-kept, let’s keep it that way.
What we liked:
The trip begins immediately with a huge bluff with pretty rock formations. The next two miles are the most winding of this trip as you zigzag around bull pastures. Generally speaking, the banks are too high for the big old beasts to do anything than stare at you or maybe trot alongside to prove to the others he’s got it covered. Because the river course is so crooked here, it behooves you to pay more attention to the angles than the Angus (sorry bout that pun).
The river straightens out some in long graceful s-curves, each about a mile in length. You can shorten the trip by taking out at the Camel Ridge Road bridge at the 5-mile mark, but you shouldn’t! Not only because there’s more loveliness awaiting downstream (riffles and rock walls gnarled like ghoulish masks) but one of the prettiest damn features you’re likely to encounter while on the water; a moss-strewn overhang off a rock face so dripping with runoff that one can only call it a waterfall. Here’s where I really regret not having that camera! Technically called a “seep,” it was positively serene and arguably the nicest visual feature of the trip.
The water is very riffly, comparable to downtown Baraboo in some sections, which should warrant this trip as having occasional Class I. It’s not for nothing that it took me two hours to paddle an 8-mile segment (That and I wasn’t fumbling with a camera, because I’m a moron who should not be entrusted with gadgets).
What we didn’t like:
While still as narrow as the stretch upstream, it feels more open and less intimate. Bull pastures and corn crops do that to me. For better or worse, it’s less twisty than the upstream stretch and has fewer and less dramatic rock formations (which I personally love). But the swiftness of the river makes up for this.
If we did this trip again:
I’ve already been here before and will continue to return. Ideally, both of the Grant segments we’ve covered should be combined in one weekend with an overnight (or two) at Nelson Dewey State Park, which has some of the best car camping sites in the entire state. This way you get the best of what the Grant has to offer. I will be back next spring, when the buds begin to appear and wildflowers dot the bluffs and again in the peak of autumn foliage.
Grant River I: Short Cut Road to County Road U
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 III: Shortcut Road to County Road U
Camp: Nelson Dewey State Park
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Wikipedia: Grant River
Only 4.2 miles but more than half of that is a long and gradual uphill. The scenery is very pretty though. Plus, once you pedal to the top of the ridge, it’s all downhill from there to the landing. Let gravity do all the work, it’s thrilling! And you can make out Iowa on the other side of the Mississippi.
Miles Paddled Video: