Black River East Fork
★ ★ ★

Black River: East Fork

By on July 25, 2014

Overguard Road to East Fork Campground
☆ ☆ ☆

The East Fork of the Black River is a wide river and pleasant paddle through classic Central Wisconsin Pines with occasional rapids but none too dangerous at these levels.

Date:
June 29, 2014

Class Difficulty:
Class I(II)

Gauge:
Neillsville: ht/ft: 6.22 | cfs: 1,940

Recommended Levels:
The level recordings are correlated to the USGS gauge. They were fine with only some bumping and scraping. It’s best to reference the NOAA gauge in the future. Unfortunately we don’t have these levels on record.

Put-In:
Overguard Road, Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Take-Out:
East Fork Black River Campground boat launch, Campground Road

Time: Put in at 12:20a. Out at 1:50p.
Total Time: 1h 30m
Miles Paddled: 4.5

Wildlife: Blue heron, woodpecker, a (possible) muskrat, a snake, fish and turtles.

The East Fork has been high on my list of paddles to kayak after seeing the Morral River Films folks paddle it a few years back (and as featured on their excellent River Trails of Southern Wisconsin video).

Knowing nothing of the area or water levels, I traveled to Black River Falls in 2012 to encounter a dry river. It was disheartening and I nearly (and stubbornly) tried to paddle it since I was there. You want to know if it’s unpaddleable? On the Eastern most part of the East Fork Campground is a trail that leads you to a lookout point to scout Campground Falls, the last rapids on the East Fork. If you see more rocks than water, it’s non-navigable. In hindsight, I’m happy I didn’t attempt it because I ended up scouting Robinson Creek and even more surprisingly, paddling it even though the water was incredibly low (that was a beauty of a paddle).

Our initial plan (as it was in 2012) was to paddle from Pray Road (the put-in is under a bridge, with a slightly steep incline) to the East Fork Campground. However, a day earlier, we met a local at the put-in to (the stunning) Halls Creek and he recommended a put-in further downstream because, in his opinion, the best of the East Fork was between the Overguard Road and Campground section.

So with water levels up early in the middle of summer, we took advantage of the East Fork’s levels and since we had camped the night before on the river (camping at East Fork Campground is one of my favorites, especially river-side. For those of us who like to passively fish, there’s nothing better), it seemed like a good opportunity to keep our footprint small.

So we set off on The East Fork the next morning.

What we liked:
There was nothing particularly spectacular about the East Fork but it sure was pretty. It’s a classic Central Wisconsin river with pines flanking both banks. It’s an easy paddle with easy rapids at these levels. It paled in comparison to the excitement we had just experienced the day before at Halls creek but it was still a very beautiful paddle.

The East Fork is wide and yes, quite black and deep and the current has a way with your boat but it’s also much tamer than I expected.

There are three listed Class IIs which were nothing more than Is if I compared them to the classified Is. They all kind of felt the same. In higher water, I can’t imagine these rapids geting any Class II-ier (is that a word?) and in lower water, you’d be scraping so it’s quite the conundrum as to why they are classified as IIs or when/if you could potentially run them as such.

The best part is the isolation. There is almost no development, just one cabin ideally located on an outcrop overlooking Cabin Falls, which is no doubt, where it gets its name.

The take-out is at the entrance to the East Fork campground so it’s maintained and is of the traditional boat-landing type of exit.

What we didn’t like:
The put-in sucked. It’s a hike of a few hundred yards in tick-laden tall grass and while I’ve experienced much more difficult put-ins, it’s just not ideal. The road to the put-in, Overguard Road, is also not clearly marked. It eventually opens to a sandy parking area. It’s here you’ll find trails leading off in two directions at a fork in the road. You’ll want to keep left/straight. To the right, is a longer hike which contrary to my initial thinking, actually opens up to a beautiful little pond/lake that doesn’t actually connect to the river.

With only one cabin the whole stretch, we expected to see more wildlife. Of course, being such a wide river, it made sneaking up on wildlife a bit harder. We didn’t encounter much, just turtles, a heron and a snake.

Lastly, I was expecting a little more excitement on this paddle with three rated Class IIs. They felt pretty tame for my liking but are still fun enough to keep the casual paddler happy. There was also a lot of straightaway paddling, which again, on a wider river with a decent headwind, can be a bit bothersome.

Overall, this trip was part surprise, part disappointment. I was surprised the excitement level wasn’t ratcheted up a bit. Had we paddled this before Halls Creek, I probably would’ve enjoyed it a bit more. But then again, it’s hard to compare the beauty of Halls Creek to the East Fork. They may be connected but they’re quite different.

If we did this trip again:
I’m glad we truncated this trip because if this was the best section, than it would’ve been a whole lot of flatwater paddling until the put-in on Overguard Road. But for those looking for a longer and leisurely paddle with just a splash of excitement, than Pray Road to the East Fork Campground is perfect. If you’re paddling right up to your campsite on the East Fork, it’ll make the trip even better.

***************
Related Information:
Black River I: Black River Falls to Melrose
Black River II: Hatfield to Black River Falls
Black River III: Melrose to North Bend
Camp:
Black River State Forest
General: East Fork of the Black River State Natural Area
Good People: Friends of the Black River
Map: Friends of the Black River
Map: Wisconsin DNR
Outfitter: Hatfield Sports Shop
Overview: Blackriverfalls.com
Overview: The East Fork of the Black
Video: Morrall River Films
Wikipedia: Black River

Map:


Miles Paddled Video:


Photo Gallery:

TAGS
RELATED POSTS
  • Robert Eckert

    Paddled here today at about 400cfm. A fair amount of scraping but absolutely doable.

    This is a nice paddle, the article is right on about everything. The put-in isn’t all that bad.

    • Miles Paddled

      Hey Robert,

      That’s good to know. There are two unfortunate things: (1), it looks like the NOAA gauge for the E. Fork is currently working, otherwise that would’ve been a more accurate sense of correlating height with runnability; and (2) much of the southern half of Wisconsin got clobbered with rain yesterday, meaning this trip today is probably rocking! Timing is everything. Still, it’s a really pretty trip. We’re glad our site is useful, and thanks for your kind words. Cheers!

MILES TO DATE:

2374.50
HELLO
Miles Paddled documents canoe and kayak trips on rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin.

Say Hello or Contribute
PADDLE REPORTS

Ahnapee River

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

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 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

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 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!