Bois Brule River
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Bois Brule River III

By on September 30, 2016

Copper Range Landing to Highway 13
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

This was not only our favorite segment of the Brule, or even of 2016, but it might possibly be our favorite paddle of all time. Copper Range Landing to Highway 13 is a non-stop ride on a bed of incessent riffles, Class I and II rapids with about a dozen ledges and drops. Set in northern Wisconsin wilderness on the pristine waters of the Bois Brule, this is a bucket-list paddle.

September 3, 2016

Class Difficulty:
Class II(III)

Brule: ht/ft: 1.60 | cfs: 142

Recommended Levels:
We recommend this level. Wisconsin Trail Guide provides a very useful chart that categorizes water levels for each section on the Bois Brule. 125-200 is the lowest you’d be able to paddle (although, expect some scrapping at the low end). The levels we paddled at were great and gave us no notable difficulty at 142 cfs (and that stayed very consistent for the entire weekend).

Copper Range Campground/Landing, Brule, Wisconsin
Highway 13 Landing

Time: Put in at 12:35p. Out at 5:45p.
Total Time: 5h 10m
Miles Paddled: 9

Wildlife: Mergansers, frogs, trout, eagle and a heron.

Having completed the previous two sections of the Bois Brule, the first that combines a little bit of everything, and then the tamest, comes the most exciting run of the entire 38 paddling miles of the river. Covered on American Whitewater, this is indeed, “the whitewater section”.

It’s unlike any of the other segments of the Brule, which is what makes it so sought after. Rivaling Halls Creek (our crème de la creek of whitewater) in rapids and ledges, (but maybe not scenery) it’s frisky, sometimes wild, and rarely does it let up for the entire 9 miles.

There’s not enough superlatives to actually describe how wonderfully fun and carefree this whole paddle is. It’s just incredible from put-in to take-out. And the ledges of Lenroot and Mays are just icing on this cake.

What we liked:
The put-in at Copper Range Campground is the least convenient of all landings on the Bois Brule – not for accessibility (because it’s actually quite convenient if you’re camping at the site) but for hauling your boat riverside. It’s about a hundred yard hike from the campground down to the river via some steep wooden steps. It’s best to have some help getting up or down. Once there, it’s an easy and gradual launch to the water.

(I have to add a note here… It wasn’t until over a month later that I came across a post on Reddit where it occurred to me that the nice people we met at the put-in, also have a great blog called which I only recently became familiar with – but prior to our trip. We had handed out some stickers and apparently, they did not make it through the rapids on the ledges. What a delightful coincidence, though).

Almost immediately after putting-in, the fun begins downstream of Park Road. The riffles begin and they won’t let up for most of the day. The entire way, it seemed as though there was no more than 50 yards of flatwater until the next set.

There are 15 sets of noted (mostly Class I) rapids within this section but trying to distinguish between where one set started and one set ended is actually difficult at these levels, save for the ledges (we’ll get to those momentarily). The Class I’s, specifically, were similar to the many yards of lively riffles we encountered. For instance, based on the Wisconsin Trail Guide Map, there is a couple rapids just after Pine Tree Landing/Dead End Road, and then nothing for at least a mile. But in fact, there is no deadzone there – it’s entirely a start/stop of riffles and seemingly nonstop splashy waves.

In general, the rapids all felt easy. But whitewater is still whitewater and I don’t want to diminish the current’s force that these rapids produce nor would I suggest that any classified set of rapids is “safe”. They were indeed easy for us but whether that was because we properly scouted them (I would like to think) and followed the routes we all “thought” were the proper lines to take, or just got lucky (I’m sure there’s part truth in that), none of us had any incidents (though some of us without skirts certainly took on water at the ledges).

What this section is known for, in terms of whitewater, are the ledges and there are two sets with multiple drops that make up each stretch of them. Lenroot is first and it was our favorite. There’s a footbridge and a cabin on the right with a “Nichol’s Sauna” sign attached out front that indicates you’ll soon reach Lenroot. Yet, while we had every intention of scouting it, we quickly became engaged with the current – completely taking everyone one of us by surprise – and we all ended up running it blindly. Successfully. It was a blast. It’s a unique set of drops and pitches with a brief break in the elbow of a left-turn.

The second series gets wilder with only one line to ride the ledges that leads from one curly wave to the next. There’s some room below that to catch your breath (or bail out water) before heading down the final few Class I ledges on the approach to (and below) County Road FF.

Following that come Mays Ledges (Or May Ledges? There seems to be a discrepancy there). While Timothy and I scouted the day prior, we thought it best to scout again so everyone in our group could see what they were in for. The first ledge is unique in that it has two drops for which to run. One is v-shaped, the other, a square-cut or tooth-shaped indent. We didn’t know what were in these crevices so we all ran it river-right – straight off the ledge – and successfully at that. Though, in hindsight, it would have been less-scrapey taking the chutes based on the videos I’ve seen after the fact, proving they are indeed runnable.

After that first ledge, there’s a good hundred yards to the rest of the ledges. There’s a series of them (the eye-test suggests they are much more intense, which is true) and while you may catch an eddy here and there to plan your next move, it’s best to scout prior and at least get a loose gameplan and find yourself a line.

Coincidentally, while we were scouting, a group of women came barreling down the ledges, decked out in similar helmets so they were obviously renting from an outfitter, which also (and sometimes unfairly) often indicates this might be a new thing for them. These ladies just shot the rapids without scouting. And the last woman, hit a rock, took on water and dumped. She didn’t know how to handle the situation so we ran down and helped her out, then got her boat to the bank to empty it. The upside was that we got to see which approach to take (and of course, which one not to).

The seven of us basically followed the same line we had scouted and I’m happy to report we conquered Mays without incident. I myself, wasn’t even convinced I’d make it without dumping, so I was impressed. Some boats without skirts took on water (fact: without a skirt, yes, you’ll probably take on some water) but everyone made it successfully to varying degrees of staying dry. And then we took a break for lunch.

After Mays, there’s more in-store with about 4.5 miles of riffles and class I’s (or as mentioned, basically one in the same). And it’s just so fun. Keep your eyes on the current lines and numerous boulders throughout and enjoy the ride. Occasionally, you’ll find a ledge at one of the marked Class I’s.

It’s on this back half of this segment where you’ll catch your first glimpses of red clay banks nestled amongst tall pines. They’re sporadic and most are modest but there are a couple tall and steep erosions that are revealed.

Wildlife had been generally quiet thus far on every part of the Brule we’ve paddle up to this point and this section was no exception. We did see those crazy-haired mergansers, some frogs, a few trout, an eagle and a heron, however, spotting wildlife is really the last thing you’ll be doing. Instead you’ll be watching for boulders and spotting the ideal currents to take you further downstream.

After 9 miles, the riffles finally let up…. (ha ha.. kind of a joke) …at the take-out. It’s almost bittersweet but at the same time, there’s a very fulfilling feeling. This river gave everything it had in this section and you couldn’t possibly ask for more fun.

The take-out is much easier and accommodating than the put-in. There are some steps but they pale in comparison to the Copper Range launch. Though I did have to help a group of ladies (who had a few too many on the trip) stumble/amble up the steps with their boats (not the same ones that careened down Mays haphazardly). Parking is limited because this is a popular access point – not just for taking-out but because it’s the put-in for the next popular section which ends in Lake Superior.

I should mention that this segment shouldn’t normally take five hours to paddle. We were a group of seven and with numbers come more delays. We also scouted, rescued, lunched, lost frisbees on the bank, rest-roomed (?), etc. Then again, you should scout and lunch and don’t rush. It’s just such a magnificent stretch. Enjoy it.

That night, to top off an extraordinarily great day trip, most of the group celebrated Wisconsin-style with brats. I, on the other hand, (and much to the chagrin of Timothy who decided to chide not only my cooking prowess but even the ability to operate a pie iron) cooked up some mean (maybe even legendary) pudgy pies (sorry Karen, I know you hate those words). Seth on the other hand, a pie newbie, struggled mightily with his first attempt (exhibits A and B – guess which one was Seth’s).

Anyway, it was an exceptional way to end the night – wine, pies, beer and brats. But tomorrow, we were finishing the weekend with one final trip. And we were all looking forward to the final day, (again, as bittersweet as that thought was) paddling the final leg towards Lake Superior by way of the Bois Brule River.

What we didn’t like:
Not a thing – it’s incredible.

If we did this trip again:
Picking a favorite section of the Bois Brule River was easy – this was it. The penultimate section of the Bois Brule doesn’t dissappoint. It’ll be etched in our paddling memories for quite some time.

We will, no doubt, return.

Related Information:
Bois Brule River I: Stone’s Bridge Landing to Bois Brule Landing
Bois Brule River II:
 Bois Brule Landing to Copper Range Landing
Bois Brule River IV: Highway 13 to Lake Superior
Bois Brule River V: 
Brule Glacial Spillway State Natural Area
Miles Paddled Video:
Bois Brule River I: Stone’s Bridge Landing to Bois Brule Landing
Miles Paddled Video:
 Bois Brule River IV: Highway 13 to Lake Superior
American Whitewater
 Wisconsin DNR
Guide: Wisconsin Trail Guide
Guide: Paddling Northern Wisconsin by Mike Svob
Outfitter: Brule River Canoe
Overview: Midwest Weekends
Video: Morrall River Films
Wikipedia: Bois Brule River


Shuttle Information:
A bike shuttle would be an easy straight shot up County Road H. The only problem is that there is very little shoulder room. But it’s a relatively even road so the grade wouldn’t be that exhausting.

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:

  • Dave Schmidt

    One of the gem, relatively easy whitewater runs of Wisconsin. Mad City Paddlers and the Sierra Club River Touring Section (RTS) is there every Memorial Day weekend. Each group paddles this and other sections of The Bois Brule. Also the nearby Middle when level is good (another easy scenic ww run) . This year some went on to paddle the Montreal as well (not as easy).

    Thanks Miles Paddled, you have many fans! (also love Tim’s book)

    • Hey Dave,

      Thanks for the comment! That’s very cool about the annual trip. I remember camping on a farm with an MCP contingent on the banks of the Upper Iowa River on a Memorial Day weekend a few years back. Thanks too for the Middle River plug. Next time we’re up there, we’ll definitely give it a look-see. Are there specific sections you recommend – or strongly discourage? As for the Montreal, oh man, that one’s been simmering on the back burner for years now. Complicated, challenging, relatively dangerous to do solo, and often shallow, not to mention 4 hours away from Madison, it still beguiles! Some day…

      Last but hardly least, thank you VERY MUCH for your kind words about the book. That means a lot to me! I hope it inspires some fabulous afternoons on the water!


  • Justin Meyer

    I’m sure the answer is “it depends on the water level” but how are the ledges in a canoe? Unloaded, paddlers with class I and II experience but it has been awhile. The trip is planned for July.

    • Yes, definitely depends on water levels. We only paddled them in kayaks, but it sure would’ve been fun to attempt in a canoe. There were many other canoes out there. I don’t have any insight into how many (if any) capsized, but I’m sure it happens. You should be fine. Just keep anything important in a dry bag. Hopefully the levels are good for you. It’s an awesome section.


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!