Waupaca River IV
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Riffly, woodsy and wonderful, this section of the Waupaca is popular due to its proximity to the city but also because water levels are usually favorable to paddle it all season. With a few boulder gardens, some riffles, a covered bridge and a Class I rapids finishing off an incredibly fulfilling paddle, the Waupaca is as fun and as reliable of a day trip as you’ll find.
April 12, 2015
Waupaca: ht/ft: 2.13 | cfs: 358
This is a very recommendable level.
County Highway Q, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Brainards Bridge Park, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Time: Put in at 12:00p. Out at 2:15p.
Total Time: 2h 15m
Miles Paddled: 7.75
Wildlife: A couple deer, one blue heron, geese and ducks.
I have often ended my kayaking season in the Waupaca area. Why? Not completely sure but there’s just something comfortable about the area and it’s hard to argue that there’s nothing like being out in the crisp fall air while the beautiful colors of Central Wisconsin are turning. This year, I decided to start where I left off.
It had been four years since I last visited this specific section of the Waupaca River. And whereas, a trip down the Crystal River just the day before, felt like a new experience with new features to explore, the Waupaca was just like I remembered it. Everything was familiar (in fact, Mike Svob’s writeup holds true after all these years and is still an accurate description of this stretch). The only difference this time, was that water level was higher due to recent rain and there was an abundance of brown – the color of spring.
What we liked:
The put-ins and take-outs are ultra-convenient. Notably, the take-out at Brainards Bridge Park, which is a pretty little city park with bridges that connect the middle island that splits the river (hence the name) at a boulder garden. The boulder garden upstream left offer an easy class I drop which is a nice punctuation to a wonderful day trip. Brainards is still, dare I say, one of the nicest little parks I’ve encountered.
Throughout the paddle, you’re treated to fun little riffles, a drop below the Anderson Road bridge and another under the charming Red Covered bridge, about a mile from the take-out. There is another drop just past that in a mini-island area where all the river has formed a “V” which makes for a tight little drop but it’s easily managed. In general, be alert for boulders – they’re always lurking. Sometimes, you’ll look down at immensely sized rocks and wonder how you didn’t just nail it. And of course, sometimes you will.
This is just a really nice paddle. There’s enough to keep things interesting with alternating canopy, boulder gardens, riffles here-and-there and hardly any fallen debris to make things difficult. It’s hard not to love a day trip like this.
What we didn’t like:
Voices and sounds carry throughout. It’s much louder than I remembered. Maybe the lack of vegetation affected the buffer needed to tamp down the sound but in reality, Highway 10 is never too far away. This probably also was the reason that there was an amazing lack of wildlife this time around.
If we did this trip again:
The Waupaca is a go-to paddle. One that we recommend often to beginners and seasoned paddlers alike. It’s one that we’ll revisit – but I probably won’t wait another four years to do it. Catch it in summer or best yet, in fall when the colors are out. You’ll surely find water in it as it’s almost always navigable and you’ll definitely find it enjoyable.
Waupaca River I: County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
Waupaca River II: County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
Waupaca River III: County Highway DD to County Highway Q
Waupaca River V: Amherst to Durrant Road
Waupaca River VI: Weyauwega to Decker Memorial County Park
Tomorrow River: Rolling Hills Road to Amherst
Miles Paddled Video: County Highway DD to County Highway Q
Camp: Hartman Creek State Park
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Outfitter: Adventure Outfitters
Outfitter: Ding’s Dock
Wikipedia: Waupaca River
The bike shuttle is a workout. It’s manageable but you’ll have some uphill climbs, specifically the climb to the top of Cobbtown Road just after Highway 10. But, once conquered, it’s (mostly) downhill to the put-in.
Miles Paddled Video: