Beaver Dam River
★ ★ ★

Beaver Dam River II

By on June 5, 2015

Leipsig to Lowell
☆ ☆ ☆

A trip that has several sweet moments but also a lot of monotonous redundancy, in addition to tedious paddling towards the end where the river widens out to a lake-like impoundment caused by the dam. But there are beautiful sections here and there, plus abundant wildlife. An abbreviated version of this trip would make a wonderful summer afternoon.

May 1, 2015

Class Difficulty:

1.8′ per mile

Beaver Dam: ht/ft: 841.0 | cfs: 130

Recommended Levels:
This is a very recommendable level.

County Road S, Leipsig, Wisconsin
River Street Dam, Lowell, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 12:00p. Out at 3:30p.
Total Time: 3h 30m
Miles Paddled: 11.25

Wildlife: Turkey vultures, turtles, butterflies, geese, feisty fish, wood ducks, common mergansers, sandhill cranes, great blue herons and muskrats.
Time worth driving to: 40 minutes

This trip came on the heels of an earlier trip further upstream, in the actual city of Beaver Dam, I did back in January (more on that another time). While that trip is primarily light rapids and swift riffles through town, I knew that this trip would offer something slower and less developed. I chose the put-in at County Road S because that’s where I took out in January and knew that it would work well. There’s a large dam in Lowell that provides for a logical takeout.

The Beaver Dam River is pretty obscure to begin with, this section in particular. It has it moments, but alas, they’re just that, moments. The monotonous redundancy between mitigated the moments for me personally, but in retrospect I’d single out a segment of this trip to properly accentuate those lovely moments without the monotony. More on that below.

What we liked:
At the County Road S bridge you’ll catch the tail end of a small Class I rapid about 30 yards upstream that coasts you along an open pastoral landscape. After the next bridge (County Road J) the environs become woodsy, secluded and the river bulges out considerably to 100 feet wide. There’s a pleasant variety of dense woods and wet mesic prairie for the first few miles. The next bridge at aptly named Meadow Road is bizarrely low but would make for a fine alternate put-in for an abbreviated version of this trip. I passed a lone older guy fishing at the bridge.

Me: “Beautiful day today.”
Him: “Yup.”
Me: “Good luck with the fishing.”
Him: “Yup.”

OK, enough small talk. What lies below Meadow Road bridge is just lovely and lush as can be: flanks of billowy weeping willows in an undeveloped sedge meadow followed by upland woods and random riffles past small boulders. I loved this section of the trip.

After passing Low Road bridge the river makes a sharp left-hand turn at the base of a tall bank – the first of several more times it will do just that: make a sharp left-hand turn at the base of a tall bank. The first time it’s cool and attractive but five times later it just becomes a disorienting déjà vu. At the top of one of these tall banks is an auto salvage yard, but fortunately another random series of riffles whisks you away from the awkward eyesore in a long straightaway. It’s a fun little ride.

After this the highlights are scattered – old rusticated barns, gnarled oak trees reaching towards the river from upland banks, undeveloped wet prairies and great wildlife sightings. The last bridge at Sock Road could provide an alternative takeout and shave off 2.75 miles of impounded flatwater. To be fair, this section to the dam in downtown Lowell is pretty and almost entirely undeveloped, but it’s primarily a marsh.

Below the dam itself – which must be portaged if you were to continue downstream – there’s a hundred yards or so of Class I rapids. I didn’t paddle this myself because there were other fishermen all lined along the banks, plus you have a takeout dilemma: run the rapids but then paddle the swift water back upstream, which would be quite difficult, or go down to the next bridge and do a second shuttle? The next bridge is Highway 16, which is very busy and inconvenient.

Also, a special shout-out to the several dozens of frisky fish I saw leaping out of the river on this trip and even bumping into my boat. They couldn’t all have been carp! I’ve never seen so many fish splashing and dashing on one daytrip. And all that guy at the Meadow Road bridge could say is “Yup.”

What we didn’t like:
The river is very wide and sometimes the current just crawls. After the last bridge at Sock Road it’s all flatwater paddling with no current at all. And God help you if you’re paddling against the wind, because then it’s all work lest you go backwards. I don’t want to sound redundant about the redundant landscape, since I’ve already mentioned it, but it does get old.

Also, there are many straightaways on this trip. Sometimes that’s fine, even welcome, but here it felt mundane to the point of disabusing my curiosity. You rarely wonder, “What’s downstream?” because you can already see what’s downstream. And often that means farms and fields. Even though there are lots of in-between “filler” sections that are green and verdant, woods or meadows, this trip still felt a little too exposed to the everyday world and not enough of a daytrip retreat. And the noise of tractors and farm equipment is never too far away.

Lastly, I’ll share a comical debacle with you. It’s not worth explaining why I did this, but I got out of my boat at the first bridge (County Rd J) to see if it would make a better put-in for this trip (from the road it looks like there’s a developed landing downstream right; there isn’t). So I’m standing at the bridge itself above the river scouting things out, when suddenly a gust of wind blows out of nowhere. Next thing I know, my kayak unmoors itself from the precarious rock against which I’d lodged it to climb up the banks. “Shit, shit, shit!” Add to that, there was also a gentle but not unmentionable riffle coming under the bridge too, seemingly in cahoots with the wind.

I ran down the bank and past the “No Trespassing” sign (sorry, but you know…), put my camera on the ground and grabbed the longest branch I could find and very inelegantly clubbed my boat and dragged it over to the bank. Awesome, but in so doing I’d inadvertently knocked my paddle into the water, which now was setting sail all by itself downstream. “So, it’s gonna be one of those days, huh?”

I hop into my boat and basically doggie paddle to fetch my actual paddle (good boy!). I catch my breath, snap open a much-deserved first beer and continue anew. And then realize my camera is still back on the bank. Sonofabitch!

So I paddle back upstream, get out again (this time making rock-solid sure the boat ain’t going nowhere, believe you me!) snag the camera, get back in and get on my way. Quite the drama considering I’d only been on the water for 10 minutes and had 10 miles yet to paddle! Lesson learned: never trust the wind!

If we did this trip again:
I would definitely do this trip again but I’d put-in at Meadow Road and take-out at Sock Road for a 5-mile late-afternoon jaunt. And maybe I’d check out those rapids below the dam…

Related Information:
Beaver Dam River I: Mud Lake Road to County Road G
General: Glacial Heritage Area
Map: Glacial Heritage Area Watertrails
Wikipedia: Beaver Dam River


Shuttle Information:

5.7 miles, almost all of it on County Road G. This road is heavy on vehicles and does not make a great bike shuttle route but the only other alternative, to the west, is three miles longer.

Photo Gallery:

  • Hi! Excellent website. Did the abbreviated version of this paddle today (early July). Plan was to go in at Meadow Rd, out at Sock Rd. Too much overgrowth at Sock, there was not a good place/shore to take out. Heavy brush, lot of wild parsnip, mucky edges. So we adapted and picked dam as the exit. It took us 1 hr 15 min to get from Meadow to Sock, but from Meadow to the dam was exactly 3hr 30 min. We were a group of 4 amateur kayakers, so I'm sure more experienced folks could complete it more quickly. A couple low spots in the first hour – bottoms of boats scrape rocks on river floor, but nothing gnarley or tough to get out of. Thanks MP!

  • You bet! We're really glad to hear you benefited from our first trip and had a good day on the river! Not surprised to hear you encountered a couple low spots, as there's a random stretch of riffles, where the river suddenly drops; but timing is everything when paddling moving rivers. Glad to hear too that you chose not to encounter the poison parsnip! That stuff is deadly. Cheers and here's to more paddling adventures!


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 III
    5.6.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

    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!