Turtle Creek
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Turtle Creek V

By on July 20, 2015

School Section Road to O’Riley Road
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A truly outstanding trip that will win the hearts of newbies and seasoned paddlers alike due to the surrounding scenery and river environment itself, with numerous access points to shorten or lengthen the time on the water – after experiencing this section of the beloved Turtle Creek, you’ll be coming back for more.

June 21, 2015

Class Difficulty:

3.4′ per mile

Clinton: ht/ft: 4.79 | cfs: 350

Recommended Levels:
This is an unusually high level for the creek. You should definitely be able to paddle this at 200 cfs and as low as 100 cfs, albeit with some scraping.

School Section Road
South O’Riley Road, Clinton, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 1:05p. Out at 4:05p.
Total Time: 3h
Miles Paddled: 8.5

Wildlife: Great blue herons, hawks, turkey vultures, songbirds, turtles, water snake, deer, umpteen dragon- and damselflies and fish (up to and including the single-largest monster carp I’ve ever seen caught at my takeout and left to die on the pavement).
Time worth driving to: 1.5 hours

This trip was a last-minute alternative after my initial plans had fizzled earlier in the morning. I had just paddled the segment of the creek (“creek”!?! the Turtle looks and feels and behaves like a river in every sense, so think of it as a creek in name only) upstream of this one and I knew that the water still was running high from previous rains. My very first trip on the Turtle began where this trip would end, so it all seemed like the perfect time to come full circle and do this section, thus completing the Turtle Creek tutorial. And boy, am I glad I did this! I loved this trip and am confident you will too.

For a trip that’s only 8.5 miles, there are three alternative access points (“PITO” spots, as we like to say, or “Put-in/Take-out”), which is generous to the point of spoiled. And while civilization is never far away, it never seems all that close either while you’re on the water. Much of this is due to the Turtle Creek Wildlife Area, a mostly contiguous parcel of land over 1,000 acres large that protects both banks of the creek with the overall feel of undeveloped naturalness (there is a brief interruption around Highway 14, so essentially 75 percent of this trip is enclosed within public land, predominantly sedge meadows and shrubs, hardwood forest and prairie remnants.) I recall seeing only two buildings the entire trip, which is quite remarkable. As such, this is arguably the prettiest section anywhere on Turtle Creek (which is saying something, as it’s an exceptionally pretty stream).

This trip doesn’t have the riffles and rapids downstream, though there are a couple brief winks of playful water (on the plus side, this section is more dependable for water levels since its gradient is more moderate). Neither does it have the rock outcrops or glorious truss bridges as downstream. And (spoiler alert!) you won’t hear jive or smack being bandied back and forth on the basketball courts in urban Beloit. But what this trip does have – and has in greater abundance than anything upstream or downstream – is an unspoiled landscape that doesn’t quit or get monotonous.

What we liked:
The intimate scenery, in a nutshell (or turtle shell). It’s the salient feature and selling point of this section of the creek. Don’t just take my word for it though; as evidenced by the numerous alternative landings at each and every bridge along this trip, lots of folks are paddling these segments.

Indeed, you could easily skip the School Road section, put in at Highway 14 instead and take-out at the next bridge past South O’Riley Road, at South Carvers Rock Road, etc. It’s very paddler-friendly and flexible in a way that few streams are, especially one as little known as Turtle Creek (little known as say compared to the Pecatonica or Sugar Rivers, where there are outfitters).

Uncannily, the bridges neatly dissect this trip in 2-mile sections, which helps you feel oriented and paced. There’s a perfect mix of sun and shade on this trip too, so that when you want nothing more than just to bask in the summery heat and celebrate for the billionth time the simple glory of mere being on the water, this trip will not disappoint. But when perhaps there’s been a touch too much basking there’s a lot of lush tree canopy to provide shady relief. Does this best of both worlds sound too good to be true? Well, it is, good and true.

My favorite section of this trip was from County Road C and East Creek Road, where for two miles the creek sweeps alongside a gentle woodsy ridge, the only notable parcel of raised land. I don’t want to oversell or embellish it; it’s quite modest. But it was more than I’d expected after looking at a topo map and it added a beguiling, exploration-inspiring allure.

Lastly, there is an attractive train trestle just upstream of the preferred takeout. I’ve heard that a train comes through once a day. I missed it by 10 mins or so, since I heard it. But I do think it would be pretty cool to time it just right so as to be passing underneath it or at least in view of it.

There are two places to take out associated with S. O’Riley Road. The first is a parking area off the road and de facto access point to the creek itself. The second is at the actual bridge just downstream. I chose the latter because it’s where I put in during my first trip ever on Turtle Creek (yes, I’m a smidge sentimental like that). Don’t do it, instead, take-out at the upstream access instead. It’s way easier, safer and more convenient. The only reason to consider taking out at the bridge is to pass the mouth of Little Turtle Creek (which actually looks rather paddleable in its own right and is on the to-do list for a future time).

Finally, file this one under “news of the weird.” After paddling, I bike-shuttled back to the car. In the span of time it took to ride my bike 6.6 miles, then drive back to the boat, someone had been at the bridge, fishing and caught the largest monster carp I’ve ever seen – easily 3’ long – and left it on the curb of the bridge (photo below).

I heard somewhere recently that you’re not supposed to release a carp back into the water after it’s been caught. I don’t fish, so I don’t have a good angle on angling (but I can tell you that at the put-in, someone had caught a carp somewhat recently and left it to die and rot in the grass about 30’ south of the bridge. Holy mother of God, was that a horrific stench. The sight of squiggling maggots was pretty disgusting alone.) But the one at the takeout, whew! the thing was downright leviathan (I guess that last part should be in “what we didn’t like”).

What we didn’t like:
The only mentionable here is a small amount of tree debris below East Creek Road. I cleared out some of the nuisance strainers and it should be totally passable without any real concern. But for beginner paddlers, this is the one spot to exercise some caution. Similarly, canoeists will have a harder time with this than kayakers.

If we did this trip again:
I will definitely be doing this again! Next time I’ll do it later in autumn, once the leaves have fallen, to have a better view of the landscape, albeit unadorned, particularly that segment below County Road C.

Related Information:
Turtle Creek Overview: Turtle Creek Paddle Guide
Turtle Creek I: Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street
Turtle Creek II: Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street
Turtle Creek III: O’Riley Road to Sweet-Allyn Park
Turtle Creek IV: Springs Park to School Section Road
Turtle Creek VI: Fairfield to Sweet-Allyn Park
Miles Paddled Video: Turtle Creek II: Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street
Good People: Friends of Turtle Creek
Overview: Riverfacts
Video: Wisconsin Paddles


Shuttle Information:

6.6 miles. Mostly flat and generally scenic but the stretch of S. O’Riley Road between Creek Road and the water itself is in god-awful shape akin to the craters of the moon.

Photo Gallery:

  • mark

    Can the Turtle Creek V paddle be done as an up and back or is the current too fast?

    Love your site, tons of great info & picts!!!

    Thank you,


  • Thanks Mark! We wouldn’t recommend up and back. Depending on levels, it could be too swift – requiring quite the workout. It’s much more fun going downstream.


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 Amazon.com.

Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!