Seeley Creek
★ ★ ★

Seeley Creek

By on May 15, 2014

Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road
☆ ☆ ☆

A lovely stream with solid water volume, Seeley Creek is the largest tributary of the Baraboo River that passes by some astonishing rock outcrops and lovely hills followed by one of the prettier sections of the Baraboo River itself but paddler beware: there are numerous necessary portages and one ornery landowner.

Date:
May 4, 2014

Class Difficulty:
Riffles

Gauge:
Baraboo: ht/ft: 13.7 | cfs: 1900

Recommended Levels:
This is a paddle we simply don’t recommend regardless of levels. But if you’re stubborn enough to want to paddle it, catch it in early spring after snowmelt or just after a hard rain, as the creek can be shallow.

Put-In:
Seeley Lake off of Seeley Lane, North Freedom, Wisconsin
Take-Out:
Giese Park wayside, intersection of Rock Hill Road and Hatchery Road, West Baraboo, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 12:00p. Out at 4:00p.
Total Time: 4h 0m
Miles Paddled: 9.25

Wildlife: A bald eagle, sandhill cranes, muskrats, a couple turtles, great blue herons, one green heron, two American bitterns, a woodpecker and lots of redwing blackbirds.
Time worth driving to: 1 hour

I first passed Seeley Creek back in January, driving along County Road W and noticed some rather fetching rock formations near the bridge. A little light went off in my head, I made note of it on the map and thus an idea for a springtime paddle was born.

What we liked:
Seeley Creek itself was surprisingly deep so water level was never an issue. I’m not certain, since this was my first time on the creek but I’d venture to guess it has dependable volume based on its size and thus, can be paddled later in the year and not just spring.

The dam and artificial waterfall at Seeley Lake is pretty, as is the lake itself (though you will be appreciating its aesthetics with many others, mostly folks fishing). It’s a charming little tucked away spot (incidentally, the lake itself can be paddled, as well as the creek “on the other side,” where the inlet is).

Almost immediately, there is a stately moss-covered rock outcrop about 25’ high in a backwater on river-left. On the 3.5-ish miles of Seeley Creek, you’ll pass three more sandstone rock outcrops, each one bigger and more stunning than the one before. The last, on river-right and only a hundred yards or so downstream of County Road W, makes for a great picnic spot. Between the last rock outcrop and the confluence with the Baraboo the creek meanders pleasantly along pretty ridges and a savannah.

Then, the Baraboo River sneaks up on you. It’s so subtle that we almost mistook it for a channel of Seeley Creek that rounded an island. The Baraboo was still running high, so once we entered it, the effect felt like one of those flat “escalators” in airports for speed walking. This is notable because the Baraboo up here normally crawls at such a sluggish pace as to be negligible.

Immediately on river-right, rock outcrops are found both at the bank and also tucked back into the hills. This is one of the prettiest sections anywhere on the entire 120 miles of the Baraboo River. You will pass under one very cool, retro and iron-rusty railroad bridge bearing the plate “Built by the Lassig Bridge and Iron Works Chicago, ILL 1899.”

As the river makes a weird northern loop (see map) you’ll paddle through a very tranquil moraine area with soft green hills. A mile or so downstream from the railroad bridge on river-right is a rugged rough-hewn stone tunnel. Check it out! You can paddle through it to the other side, where there is also a creek (too many obstructions prevent much exploration on the creek side). I believe this is located at the awesomely named “Hoot Owl Hollow.” The stonework here is positively stunning.

The take-out is also on river-right upstream from Hatchery Road bridge, which is easy to spot and access. There’s room here for a few cars to park, plus there’s a strangely old, somewhat decrepit outhouse worth a look-see.

What we didn’t like:
As the French say, “por-TAJ,” or as a paddler says, “another [expletive deleted] portage!?!” Yes, my friends, this trip isn’t all wine and roses, at least not the first 1-2 miles. In fact, from the put-in at the dam to the first bridge at Freedom Road, you can expect 8-10 portages around impassable obstructions (mostly downed trees).

Compounding this conundrum is a disputatious landowner of the one and only house between the put-in and County Road W. The house hovers above the creek on the left and will remain in view for a couple hundred yards of the meandering creek. At first, the landowner seemed friendly by warning us of “3” downed trees. Being somewhat cocky and experienced with stoical maneuvering above or through trees and logs, we didn’t think much of it until we came upon the first one, which was indeed impassable and required a portage. As soon as we stepped a toe on dry land to get around the tree, we were shouted at for “trespassing.” (to be fair, I think the shouting had more to do with the distance between the guy’s house and the obstruction and less with anger).

Here’s what you’re supposed to do in these scenarios: Ask for permission and explain that you have no other choice, since the stream is fully obstructed.

Here’s what we did instead: Shouted back something or other about Wisconsin law and high-water marks as though we were legal experts in a riparian right-of-way. That just started a shouting match. For what it’s worth, the law is on a paddler’s side, at least in Wisconsin. Access to exposed shoreline is permitted “only if it is necessary to exit the body of water to bypass an obstruction.”

Here is the full statutory language, and here it is in shorthand.

Technically, according to the “keep your feet wet” provision, one is supposed to have at least one foot in the water, but this is impractical to a point of Monty Python-esque absurdity. From the above encounter I could draw two conclusions; 1) the guy was itching for a fight and just waiting to bark at us the moment the inevitable happened or 2) he simply wanted us to respect his land and not be oblivious of the law. The fact that he knows full well about the “3” obstructions (in fact, there were eight) and yet felt no desire to clean them up almost felt like entrapment. Or his selfish desire to hoard his piece of paradise by ensuring that paddlers and anglers kept away. However one interprets it, the first 1-2 miles of paddling left a malingering impression (I myself was beginning to worry that my two friends were going to mutiny me, since this trip was my idea!).

There may be another 1-2 portages between Freedom Road and County W but if there are, you will be far from the crankasaur, so confrontation is unlikely.

If we did this trip again:
I would put in at Freedom Road. While there still may be a need to portage once or twice, it’s nothing like upstream. There are no houses at the bridge here, so access to the creek should be hassle-free (the bridge at County W is in front of a farm, so access is uncertain). Plus, paddling up to the first rock outcrop upstream of County W is a most pleasant experience.

***************
Related Information:
General: The Baraboo Iron-Bearing District of Wisconsin

Map:


Shuttle Information:

Almost half the distance of the paddling trip itself, it’s an easy shuttle in a pretty area of rolling Baraboo Hills.

Photo Gallery:

TAGS
RELATED POSTS
MILES TO DATE:

2333.50
HELLO
Miles Paddled documents canoe and kayak trips on rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin.

Say Hello or Contribute
PADDLE REPORTS

Apple River (IL)

    Apple River
    4.20.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East Canyon Road to South Apple River Road

Ashippun River

    Ashippun River
    9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Ashippun Lake to Ski Slide Road

Badfish Creek

Baraboo River

Bark River

    Bark River III
    4.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway 83 to Delafield Road

    Bark River II
    4.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Merton to Highway 83

    Bark River I
    7.15.10 | ☆ ☆
    Burnt Village County Park to Fort Atkinson

Beaver Dam River

Big Bureau Creek (IL)

    Big Bureau Creek
    6.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150

Big Rib River

    Big Rib River
    5.10.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Goodrich to County Road A

Billings Creek

    Billings Creek
    8.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road F to Landing 10

Black Earth Creek

Black River

Black River: East Fork

Bois Brule River

Boundary Waters (MN)

Cannon River (MN)

    Cannon River
    5.31.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Faribault to Dundas

Carroll Creek (IL)

    Carroll Creek II
    6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

    Carroll Creek I
    4.26.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

Catfish Creek (IA)

    Catfish Creek
    5.7.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mines of Spain to Massey Marina Park

Cedar Creek

    Cedar Creek
    9.28.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road M to Cedarburg

Coon Fork Creek

Covel Creek (IL)

    Covel Creek
    6.18.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East 18th Road to Highway 71

Crawfish River

Crawfish River: North Branch

Crystal River

Dell Creek

    Dell Creek
    3.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    South Avenue to Dellwood

Door Creek

    Door Creek
    4.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Femrite Drive to Fish Camp County Park

Duck Creek

    Duck Creek
    3.23.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road G to Duck Creek Road

Eau Claire River

Eau Galle River

Embarrass River

Flambeau River: North Fork

Fox River

    Fox River II
    4.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road O to Endeavor

    Fox River I
    5.14.14 | ☆ ☆
    Swan Lake to Portage Canal

Fox River (IL)

Galena/Fever River

Grand River

Grant River

    Grant River IV
    4.24.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River III
    4.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

    Grant River II
    11.21.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River I
    5.23.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

Halls Creek

    Halls Creek II
    8.9.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Garage Road to Halls Creek Landing

    Halls Creek I
    6.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Honey Creek

Jump River

    Jump River
    8.30.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park

Kickapoo River

Kickapoo River: West Fork

Kinnickinnic River

Kishwaukee River (IL)

Koshkonong Creek

La Crosse River

Lake Columbia

Lake Mendota

Lake Michigan

Lake Superior

Lake Waubesa

Lemonweir River

Little Platte River

Little Wolf River

Maunesha River

Mecan River

Mill Creek

Milwaukee River

Milwaukee River: East Branch

Mink River

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

Mormon Creek

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

Morrison Creek

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

Mukwonago River

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

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Oconomowoc River

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

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Peshekee River (MI)

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

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Platte River

Plover River

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

Prairie River

    Prairie River
    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

Robinson Creek

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

Rock Creek

    Rock Creek
    3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Root River

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

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Rubicon River

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

Starkweather Creek

Sugar River

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

Turtle Creek

Upper Iowa River (IA)

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

Waupaca River

    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

Wedges Creek

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

White River

Wisconsin River

Wolf River

Yahara River

Yellow Creek (IL)

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

Yellow River

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
Support the Cause
Timothy's guidebook is out! Order on Amazon.com.



Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!