Beaver Dam River
★ ★

Beaver Dam River I

By on December 27, 2014

Mud Lake Road to County Road G
☆ ☆

A quick trip, rich in potential but poor in payoff, this is the last handful of miles of the Beaver Dam River before its confluence with the Crawfish in a sucker-punched part of the state, where glaciers of yesteryear left muddy marshes for today.

October 25, 2014

Class Difficulty:


Milford: ht/ft: 2.9 | cfs: 500
Gauge note: There is an official gauge for the river in Beaver Dam but it’s a good 25 miles upstream of this trip, plus it’s below a dam and thus, does not accurately correlate levels downstream. The Crawfish gage in Milford is a better comparison.

Recommended Levels:
This is a very recommendable level.

Mud Lake Road, Reeseville, Wisconsin
County Road G, (on the Crawfish River) Portland, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 12:00p. Out at 2:30p.
Total Time: 2h 30m
Miles Paddled: 6

Wildlife: Geese and ducks, plus one frog.
Time worth driving to: 20 minutes

By accident I had heard of a state natural area called Waterloo Quartzite Outcrops earlier this year. I love rock outcrops and who doesn’t like quartz? Moreover, I knew this area was mostly marshy, so the SNA caught my attention for simple incongruity: quartz outcrops in a flat marsh, a quartz-outcrop state natural area that is in the middle of two forks of a river like an island within an island. This, I had to check out!

What we liked:
Things were looking very promising in the beginning. The sun was shining all radiant bliss, plus the forecast was for the mid-60s on this late October day. To get to the put-in you take Mud Lake Road, (off of County Road G) which eventually becomes a rugged unpaved road, leading you along the top of an attractive ridge into a large swath of public land. I could see the river glistening in the sun down below and I was starting to feel pretty pumped.

There are two lanes (for lack of a better term) you can choose to get to the water, both left-hand turns. Don’t take the first one; it’s chained up so you’d have to walk and schlep your gear a good hundred yards to the river. Plus, once at the river, there’s no great place to put-in. Take the second left-hand “lane” but know that the path down to the river is rutted out, rock-strewn and totally impassable for low-clearance vehicles (such as mine). If your vehicle can handle the off-road, rollicking nature, then you should put in here. If you can’t get down there, then you should put in at the first “lane” simply because it offers an extension of the pretty environment and adjacent to the highlight of this trip: Waterloo Quartzite Outcrops state natural area. Take all of this with a grain of salt because it’s missing the point – which is that I don’t really recommend this trip in the first place. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The ridge on your right is indeed pretty, as is the quartzite island state natural area on your left. But it’s a little underwhelming, to be honest. To begin with, if you put-in at the first “lane,” half the island is upstream of you. So what? Well, the bridge across the river to the quartzite island is impassably low, screened off and seems almost like some kind of dam. Paddling through it is not even an option but if it were, it would be dangerous. So if you want to see the north-facing tip of the island you’d have to portage around this bridge; not a deal-breaker in its own right but not a fun way to begin a trip either. If you put-in at the second “lane” you’d have both to paddle upstream to get to the island, portage around the bridge, paddle upstream again, turn back around, then portage the bridge a second time. All for something that’s pretty dull in the first place. Why bother?

Yet this island (and it is followed by another less “quartzy” island) is the only compelling reasons to come out here in the first place. In other words, there is no compelling reason to come out here! You can’t really discern or appreciate much of either island from the water but only the first one is accessible by dry land. Sure, there are a handful of quartz outcrops here and there and the island does rise about 40’ from the floodplain to its “summit” but it’s all rather so-so. The only trail is that same developed “lane” and anywhere else on the island requires bush whacking. Once you walk to the other side of the island (a very short walk) you are bombarded with “NO TRESPASSING” signs. Huh? Out here? Seriously? On an unadorned boring island in between two branches of the boring Beaver Dam River? You gotta be kidding me!

Again, why bother?

What we didn’t like:
I hate to blame a whimsical weather issue on a river, since it’s hardly the river’s fault but I’m gonna go with it anyway (and I think you’ll understand why). Wind. It was a hideous 20-mph wind dead against me the whole friggin’ way. Granted, some days are less windy than others but this area is prone to high winds since the land is low and marshy. Most wind is out of the southwest, which alas, is exactly the direction the river heads in this trip. I’ve read about this elsewhere too, so it wasn’t an isolated, random occurrence on the day I was out there.

Next, it’s just dull, unless you like flat marshes. Adding to the platitude is this not insignificant detail: there is nowhere to get out and pee, since there is no dry land on which to stand. I got pitilessly desperate (OK, maybe laughably desperate) and had to improvise a rather pathetic solution wherein I rammed up against the sturdiest clod of cattail-like pond weeds I could find, dug my paddle into the water to act as a crutch, backed out of the cockpit and leaned sideways to heed nature’s call. Not at all pleasant and certainly not preferable. Why not stand up in the boat? For one, it isn’t sturdy and I sure as hell was not about to fall into the water in late October, no matter how blissfully sunny it was. For another, it’s wise to take the age-old advice of never peeing into the wind…

Then, apparently the Beaver Dam River is deep, as there were three motorboats out there – one setting up several dozen muskrat traps. I talked to the dude (totally a nice guy) and was about to inquire what he did with the muskrats he’d catch… until I realized I really didn’t want to know the answer. What was that? Did you just hear banjo music? Let’s see… so far we have a pretty dull landscape, strong winds and now motorboats. Awesome.

Last, if none of this was enough, finding the take-out is a little tricky. For one, you have three options but all are problematic. The easiest one is off a middle-of-nowhere road that doubles as the driving/biking distance for your shuttle, so I ruled that out.

As for your other two you have a dilemma: 1) find a difficult passage into a wide lake to a makeshift take-out on the other side followed by schlepping your boat and gear a good 75 yards up, down and over trees and logs; or 2) find the Crawfish River, turn right and paddle upstream a ¼ mile to a very good take-out on the right before the County Road G bridge (which is what I chose). I liked the adventure idea of sailing across the lake but that required handling to the main road of option 1 which was a killjoy.

But man, if there is one thing I dislike more than paddling against the wind, it’s paddling upstream. Paddling upstream against the wind is just wrong – wrong and merciless. Doing so after a disappointing trip is fun for none but masochists.

If we did this trip again:
I won’t.

Related Information:
Beaver Dam River II: Leipsig to Lowell
General: Glacial Heritage Area
Map: Glacial Heritage Area Watertrails
Wikipedia: Beaver Dam River


Shuttle Information:

5.2 miles.

Photo Gallery:


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

Say Hello or Contribute

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

Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!