Lusk Creek
April 27, 2018

Saltpeter Cave Crossing to Eddyville Blacktop Road
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A true destination trip in every sense, Lusk Creek is an obscure stream set in a glorious wilderness environment featuring steep-walled canyons, cliffs, caves, boulders as big as school buses, waterfalls, jade green water, and innumerable pay-attention rapids. The two caveats are catching it at a level high enough to float without scraping – but still safe without it flash-flooding – and difficult accesses. But the paddling is oh so worth the wait for ideal conditions and mild inconvenience.

March 30, 2018

Skill Level: Experienced at moderate to low levels; Advanced at high levels
Class Difficulty: Class I-II (II-III at high levels)

~20′ per mile for the first 5 miles, then ~7′ for the last 4 miles

Eddyville: ht/ft: 4.3 | cfs: 225

Recommended Levels:
We recommend this level. For ordinary “lightwater” paddlers, an ideal level would be somewhere in the 300-400 cfs range to avoid scraping. For whitewater paddlers, anything below 300 will be much too low.

Bear in mind that this section of Lusk Creek is enclosed within a wilderness canyon that is prone to flash flooding. Lusk Creek can double or triple in height in hours. Seriously, hours. Conversely, the creek drains about as fast as it crests. Even in just a moderate light rain, we saw it rise from 4’/150 cfs to 8’/1600 cfs overnight on 3/29/2018 and then drop down to 4.5’/300 cfs by the following afternoon on 3/30/2018. Catching it at a sweet spot that’s neither dangerously high nor disappointingly low will be a mix of luck and lust (or “Lusk”). But do be mindful of these dynamic fluctuations. At high levels with pushy current there will be genuinely dangerous obstacles and difficult-to-nonexistent portaging. And accesses off the creek and out of the wilderness forest are very limited, via arduous trails, and far from any main roads.

Saltpeter Cave Crossing via Trail 481 via Stone Bottom Road, north of Eddyville, Illinois*
Eddyville Blacktop Road bridge

* This was not precisely our intended put-in, but circumstances (re: washed out/rutted mud roads) prevented starting our trip where we wanted. We don’t truly recommend putting in via Trail 481, as it means parking your car and then hiking your gear 1.5 miles through the forest; but it was our only option.

Time: Put in at 2:50p. Out at 7:50p.
Total Time: 5h
Miles Paddled: 8

Wildlife: Kingfishers, great blue herons, bald eagles galore, deer, beavers and otters.

For starters, let’s get on the same page. Lusk Creek is located on the eastern side of Shawnee National Forest in the southernmost tip of Illinois, an area that looks more like the Ozarks than the corn-soy-alfalfa flats that so predominate the blandscape that is the Prairie State. (We like to think of it as “Illitucky.”) Indeed, all of Illinois’ eight total designated wilderness areas are located in Shawnee alone – in that inverted triangle between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers that is southernmost Illinois. And within the national forest are five entirely separate geological areas – from cypress swamps and bayous to fossil-rich cretaceous hills to staggeringly massive sandstone bluffs.

A tributary of the Ohio River, Lusk Creek is only 30-ish miles long and drains an area of some 10-ish square miles. That said, it’s surrounded by a hundred side creeks, separate branches, tiny forks, rivulets, springs, waterfalls and weeping seeps. When it rains, all that water has nowhere to go but tumble down the hills and slickrock to Lusk Creek. Roughly 2/3 of the creek flows through the national forest, where it is a designated wilderness area. If the Upper Iowa River and Halls Creek got a room for an hour, their lovechild would be Lusk Creek. It is not only the premier whitewater stream in southern Illinois; it has got to be the single most beautiful stream anywhere in the state.

I don’t even remember anymore how I first heard of Shawnee National Forest, considering I didn’t grow up in the Midwest and it’s a million miles away from where I’ve been living since I moved to Wisconsin in 2003. Nonetheless, it’s been on my to-do list for well over a decade now. It’s just that it’s a loooooong drive away – a post-lobotomy-like long drive through allllllll of Illinois at that, together with its thousand douchebag drivers at 100 mph and $20 in roundtrip tolls. From Madison, without traffic, construction, or bad weather [insert high-pitched cynical laugh here], it’s still a good 7-hour drive down there. When the mind entertains all the alternative places in the Midwest one can go camping and paddling that also are seven hours away (if not closer), without tolls or Illinois drivers or the most mind-numbingly monotonous drive through vast flatness, well then, now you might understand why it’s taken a solid ten years for me to get down there.

Still, it’s worth all the grumbling bellyache, because it’s spectacularly gorgeous. Think of the Dells and Devil’s Lake. Now quadruple the scale of things – cliffs, hills, boulders, waterfalls – but take away all the tourists and the kitsch (well, some of the tourists). That’s Shawnee in a nutshell. And I knew that there is a beguiling stream down there called Lusk Creek that whispered everything a paddler’s sweet nothings could ask for – canyons, cliffs, caves, waterfalls, whitewater, and water the color of jade green glass.

I can assert with crystalline certainty that I have never spent as much time or detail studying maps (yes, plural) before paddling a stream than I have for Lusk Creek. Before or after, actually – and I’m a total map nerd. On the one hand, there really isn’t that much info out there on paddling Lusk Creek. What little there is comes either from American Whitewater, Mike Svob’s Paddling Illinois, or random YouTube videos. All of these are pretty sketchy when it comes to accessing the creek (although we’re currently updating the American Whitewater page). Furthermore, as small as Lusk Creek is, AW and Mike Svob cover two separate sections without so much as a skinny mile of overlap, and none of the YouTube bros indicate even imprecisely where they put-in or took-out. And while the paddler customarily has her choice of beginning or ending a trip at her discretion of this bridge or that, here in the Shawnee Hills there is only one bridge that crosses Lusk Creek. For point of reference, Svob’s trip begins at this bridge (Eddyville Blacktop Road), while the AW trip ends 4 miles upstream of the bridge.

In other words, the AW trip begins and ends somewhere in a wilderness forest without the usual drive-to-the-bridge ease of convenience, while Svob’s trip at least begins at a bridge but also ends kinda randomly in the middle of the wilderness forest. Hence poring over the maps.

Wonky disclaimer: the next few paragraphs are going to dive into the weeds of Lusk Creek logistics, which may well bore some readers to sleep. Feel free to skip ahead to the Overview, if the bevy of nuts and bolts below ain’t your cup of tea.

We probably have Mike Svob to thank for putting Lusk Creek in our wheelhouse in the first place. But what’s strange is that he makes no mention of the creek upstream of his trip, even though he does say a few words (none glowing) about what lies downstream. Even stranger is that his trip does not include the veritable canyon section of the creek or the famous 100′-tall waterfall at a place called Indian Kitchen, both upstream of his put-in – for which we have American Whitewater to thank for bringing to our attention. Considering that these are some of the unique features that make Lusk Creek Illinois’ most beautiful stream, one has to wonder “Mike, what’s up with that?” It’s a curious omission to say the least.

So, we knew that we wanted our trip to encompass the canyon and waterfall – nay, needed our trip to encompass these areas. After all, we sure as hell aren’t gonna drive 14 hours and pay 20+ toll dollars roundtrip to miss the most beautiful spots by a half-dozen miles. The question then became, where do we start this trip in order to get the most of the good stuff, and then where do we take-out to get the least of the bad stuff?

American Whitewater covers a 5-mile section of the creek, where the best rapids and steepest gradient are located. But, as mentioned above, both the put-in and take-out for their trip are basically off-the-grid accesses that are a far cry from accessible. Plus 5 miles is a short distance for all that driving. So, it made sense to add 4 miles and continue on to the one-and-only bridge over Lusk Creek where the access is pretty simple – making for a solid 9-mile trip. (It’s worth mentioning that an official canoe launch will be built on the downstream side of the bridge, river-left, in the near future, as eagerly boasted by the staff at the visitor center in Harrisburg.)

And while Svob’s trip, beginning at the bridge, sounds and looks plenty pretty, it would A) add 7 miles, making for a fairly long day on an unfamiliar stream still early in spring, to say nothing of an even longer bike shuttle, and B) result in both the put-in AND take-out located at inaccessible, pain-in-the-ass places. I myself wouldn’t even want to do that, but there was no way in hell I could or would even try to talk my girlfriend into such hardships.

Instead, we came up with a kind of à la carte solution, essentially going with the put-ins for both American Whitewater’s and Mike Svob’s trips while declining both of their take-outs, thus coming up with our own unique Miles Paddled trip, which is always fun.

To paddle the whitewater and canyon section of Lusk Creek, there are essentially two options – neither of them very good: Stone Bottom Road (from the west) or New Liberty Church Road/Highway 10 (from the east). On the official Delorme Illinois Atlas/Gazetteer (p. 90) Stone Bottom Road is labeled “FR 1628” and shows the solid-line road peter to an intermittent dash to the water, where there’s an official “hand-carry boat launch site” symbol. Whether that’s 100% accurate we can’t verify, because the “road” was a rough, sloggy hash of liquified mud that was too washed-out and rutted for my Subaru Outback to even consider without getting stuck and stranded. (True, this was in late March, after a rough winter and before the road crews got out to improve things. That said, Lusk Creek is paddleable only after some solid rain, which will render the roads mud-slop regardless.) To avoid a serious pain-in-the-pass “portage” via forest trails just to put in on the creek, you’d need a 4WD truck with tires the size of Tasmania. We had no such option, so instead we parked at the trailhead for 481/Saltpeter Cave/Natural Bridge, off Stone Bottom Road, and then schlepped/hiked 1.5 miles to the water (which kinda sucked and took almost 2 full hours, but was worth it).

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Delorme sometimes gets it wrong. We’ve discovered false boat launches before, where the map shows something that reality lacks. (County Road C up in Bayfield County, Wisconsin, at the Sioux River, p. 22 – we’re looking at you, you liar!)

As for New Liberty Church Road/Highway 10 (which in the atlas/gazetteer goes first by FR 404 then FR 488 and finally 1000 E), we personally can’t verify this, as there was no time to scout, but a seemingly well-knowing soul at the visitor center in Harrisburg was confident that one could drive down to the church/cemetery, park there, and then hike in to the creek. To put this in perspective, the satellite image on Google Maps shows that this is feasible, in theory, but none too promising. There is no official trail here by the church/cemetery, so even though the shortest distance between the two points of the road and water is approximately 0.6 miles, that’s as the crow flies. On the other hand, there is an official trail (492 A) off of the road – north of the church/cemetery –  and this can be taken down to trail 457, which eventually leads to the creek, but this is definitely a longer hike than trail 481 mentioned above. Furthermore, getting to this spot in the first place more than doubles the shuttling distance. Therefore, the advantage of putting-in over here is lost on us. (That said, this was our first time in the area and we would be happy to be wrong about all of this if it means a better, more practical way to paddle Lusk Creek.)

For the record, there is an official ford over the creek called “Blanchard Crossing” (GPS: 37° 32’ 44” N / 88° 32’ 18” W) that is mentioned in a few recreational blogs, up to and including comments on the American Whitewater’s page for Lusk Creek, where some paddlers have put-in. But nobody (paddler, hiker, horseback rider) has ever thought to share how they got to Blanchard Crossing in the first place – i.e., via Stone Bottom Road or New Liberty Church Road, or how far they had to hike in, if at all, from whichever road they took to the crossing.

It’s baffling puzzlements like this that keep my addlepated brain awake at nights…

Also for the record, the day before our paddle I waltzed into the visitor center in Harrisburg armed to the teeth with such nitty gritty questions in tandem with maps, books, printouts, and what-alls. The kind but kind of useless folks there ended up learning more about the creek and wilderness area’s surrounding roads from me, who’d never been there before, than I from them. Hence never getting a clear and unequivocal resolution to this mystery. Believe you me: it pains us not to have resolved this unnecessarily ambiguous riddle about put-ins and accesses, but we’ve turned over every stone (bottom road and otherwise), to no final avail.

Finally, there is a third option – at least in theory – heretofore unmentioned: putting-in at the Little Lusk Trail Lodge, a private campground on the banks of Lusk Creek before it enters the national forest. This would be the easiest option of all, by far, but A) it probably would require permission first to do so (which may not be granted, being Illinois and all), and possibly a fee (again, being Illinois); B) it would add 3.5 miles of who-knows-what-kind-of paddling before the good stuff at either of the two put-in options detailed above; and C) it would be really shallow here, as C1) the very origins of the creek are located only a mile or so upstream from the Lodge and C2) there’s a dumb dam creating a small pond at the Lodge, which unnaturally dewaters the already shallow creek.

Anyway, we went with Option 1 – Stone Bottom Road. Or at least tried to. As mentioned above, the dirt/mud road became impassable after a point, even in the high-ground clearance AWD Subaru. (Unlike getting a cow up a flight of stairs but not down, it’s one thing to slip-slide your way down a muddy, rutted road to the water, but quite another matter to drive back up that road afterward. And being stranded in the wilderness does not a fun idea for one’s vacation make. Especially at night, especially in March. So, we parked in a designated area for cars at a trailhead and began carrying our boats through the thick-rooted, rocky, muddy, side creek-fording forest trail #481 to the main stream… somewhere down below. I (Timothy) shouldered one boat, while my ass-kicking, bad-ass girlfriend towed another using my two-wheeled kayak caddy. Yes, the going was slow and arduous – the trail is approximately 1.5 miles long, and it took us 1h 40m to finally get to the bottom of the canyon and find a suitable place to launch a boat onto Lusk Creek. (I say “approximately,” because for reasons that defy comprehension, none of the trails in the Lusk Creek Wilderness area are measured out in miles or kilometers, either on the trail signs or the official map. Why, Illinois, why? It’s like you want people to dislike you…)

Schlep-hiking through the wilderness forest to find the creek was that kind of completely impractical chutzpah you sometimes do in life in hopes that the hardship will be rewarded (which in our case it was). It reminded me of stories I’ve read and videos watched wherein paddlers hike in their gear to catch a rare run of wilderness river – which, of course, was precisely what we were doing; it’s just that usually those stories and videos are set somewhere on the Wild & Scenic waters in states west of the Mississippi River, not Illi-freakin-nois. But this truly was the most guerilla/rogue launch we’ve ever done, and it felt pretty cool. (Let the record show that it did not feel pretty cool on my shoulders and hips the following day, or my girlfriend’s cramping-up hand during the actual paddling, after towing the kayak caddy for close to two hours!) It did make that first beer taste exceptionally good, however.

[Ed. Note: we later learned that two-wheeled carts are not permitted on the wilderness trails, for the record. That’s not entirely surprising, since wheeled carts – even for a canoe or kayak – are prohibited also in places like Sylvania and the Boundary Waters. But what is a little questionable is how essentially traceless a 2 lbs-cart hauling a 40 lbs-kayak is compared to a half-ton horse. Where am I going with this? Horseback riding is extremely popular in Lusk Creek Wilderness. To wit, we were passed by six horse-human combos composed of two groups in just 30 minutes… on not just any old random Friday afternoon in late March, but Good Friday/Passover at that… in a wilderness forest of 6300 acres. We’re all for equestrian trails, but holy hell do they make a muddy mess of things! So, prohibiting a kayak cart is pretty fatuous in comparison – especially when the roads are so impassable as to render a necessity hiking your boats and gear in.]

We’re going to assume that you don’t hike down to the creek, but instead drive there in the appropriate vehicle using whatever road leads most logically to it but does not look like a post-air raided blitz; and so we won’t spend time talking about the hike or trail. It’s a beautiful trail past mesmerizing rock shelves, walls, waterfalls, and mini-canyons.

The scenic splendor begins right off the bat at a horseshoe-shaped left bend around a steep bluff with a gorgeous rock outcrop called Saltpeter Cave. About 40′ tall and 80′ wide, it’s more properly a giant rock shelter/overhang than a cave, but still. There are many naturally shallow fords across the creek, allowing for easy access on or off the water. Downstream of the cave you’ll find yourself surrounded by steep forest hills embedded with humongous boulders in a straightaway. Generally speaking, when this is the case, the current slows down… for a moment. Lusk Creek is a classic riffle-pool-riffle stream – well, rapid-pool-rapid is more accurate. And while it’s called a creek, it’s at least as wide as, if not wider than, most Wisconsin rivers. Nonetheless, since it is prone to flash-flooding and since it is bejeweled with ginormous rock formations, deadfall tends to accumulate, particularly at tight bends. Paddlers need to be vigilant for the first 3 miles of this trip especially, up to and through the canyon/Indian Kitchen section.

But it’s not consistently wide. Often it will constrict and funnel flumes of Class I-II rapids (or III, at higher water levels) through little bottleneck breaks between rocks or downed trees – or rocks with big trees pinned against them. Even with a Midwestern adjustment for scale, it would be a gross exaggeration to overstate the height of the bluffs and ridges; at most, we’re talking about 200′ above the water-line. This isn’t the desert southwest or Pacific Northwest, to be sure. Still though, many of the rock formations that have calved off the “parent” bluffs range from dimensions as big as garages to full houses – no kidding. The sheer size of things in this wilderness is simply breathtaking, especially by Midwestern standards!

And then there is the sheer age of things here. Not unlike the humble nook section of northwestern Illinois in the assigned “Driftless Area,” the Shawnee Hills also were not glaciated. As such, the rocks here are many millions of years old.

A sharp bend to the left follows the mouth of Little Bear Branch on the right, which in turn is followed by an ear-shaped bend to the right around a considerably tall bluff. Here, at the base of the bluff is an exposed rock wall that lines directly into the water. The colors are exquisite, the rocky textures magnificent.

Prior to our trip, we’d read on American Whitewater about a caution-commanding hazard to be on the lookout for in the shape of two huge boulders that would require portaging around. First, I spied a tell-tale horizon line and heard the roar of a small but reputable rapid. As I got closer I saw two pretty big boulders only 15′ away from the base of the rapids, which diverted the water to the left in a crazy 90-degree bend. I assumed this was the cautionary hazard. After getting out to scout the drop, I talked myself into running it…because the teen boy in me is still alive and well, despite turning 40 last year. (My girlfriend sensibly portaged around this, on the left, a difficult and longish portage through scrubby alders, trees, downed logs, and rocks.) I ran the rapid without incident, and it was that twin feeling of adrenaline-spiked terror and high-fived attaboy. Indeed, there’s a brief but wild run of ledges and rapids by these boulders and where Bear Branch comes in (also on the right).

Another ledge or two follow, but things shall begin quieting down. A gentle left turn here, then a gentle one to the right there, and suddenly you realize you’re flanked between two rock walls in what can be mistaken for nothing other than a canyon. The effect is subtle at first, but once it hits you, you’ll fall like a feather. At least at our levels, we’re happy to report that the current was entirely gentle through the canyon, which was unexpected but welcome. We simply stopped paddling and just floated along as gravity allowed, soaking up the marvel. The jade green water, the cream-colored and ruddy sandstone rock walls, the evergreen swabs of lichen and pines – the painter’s palette is an audacious majesty for the whole spirit to take in. And when there’s been recent precipitation – which is to say during or just after the only times you can ever hope to paddle Lusk Creek with enough water in the first place – the tall bluff walls on the left will have mascara streaks of slickrock from rainwater with nowhere else to go but lemming-wise off the cliffs.

The belle of the ball is at Indian Kitchen, an implausibly tight horseshoe-shaped bend where a bridal veil of water cascades from over 100′ above directly into the creek. You can easily paddle behind the curtain of falling water, which is a pretty neat treat. Other than Pictured Rocks in the U.P., we’ve never seen this display of waterfall down a slick-rocked bluff anywhere in the Midwest. Surely, it washed away all thoughts of sore shoulders, hips, and cramped hands.

Just downstream from this, after a gentle left-hand bend followed by a right-hand bend, you’ll be face to face with two truly ginormous boulders – so big, you can clearly see these two monoliths from the satellite map. “Oh, those are the boulders warned in American Whitewater,” I realized… Calling them boulders probably is misleading. They’re more like rock islands. Whatever they’re called, they pose a dilemma that needs to be resolved on the spot in live time. You cannot go left, as it’s all just rock rubble and no dry-land access. And you cannot go between the two boulders, as whole trees get lodged there in a colossal logjam. The only way around is on the right. American Whitewater advised portaging, but for us there was plenty of room to navigate safely without having to portage. But these are tight side channels in swift current surrounded by colossal rocks, none of which should be taken for granted.

A long, gentle straightaway follows but for a brief bend here and there before the next access on the right at a ford off Ragan Road. The remains of old bridge pylons can be seen here. This is where the American Whitewater trip ends. However, two things should be noted: 1) there are plenty of riffles, Class I rapids, and beautiful rock formations downstream from here; and 2) from the creek to the main road, it’s a 2.5-mile-long drive along Ragan, which is another dirt/mud, pockmarked/rutted road, which may be impassable. Besides, from here to the bridge at Eddyville Blacktop Road is only 3.8 paddling miles, all of it easy, open, and quite lovely. And the Ragan Road/Eddyville Blacktop Road intersection is less than a half-mile from the bridge itself, where access is way better. So why not continue on down to the bridge?

Also, for us – and this may be incidental, but it’s worth mentioning – the only wildlife we saw was from Ragan Road to the bridge.

These final 3.8 miles reminded us of the very best the Baraboo and Pecatonica Rivers offer: steep wooded bluffs, sentinel-like rock outcrops, occasional riffles and little ledges, and great wildlife. The only difference is you’re still in a wilderness/national forest setting. Most of the paddling here is along broad straightaways, with only a handful of bends and kinks. Understandably too slow or “dull” for hardcore whitewater paddlers, it will still be outstanding for all other paddlers. It stands to reason that Mike Svob’s trip is comparable to the Ragan Road to Eddyville Blacktop Road section, but that will have to wait for another time to find out…

Finally, the bridge at Eddyville Blacktop Road appears. There’s no access on the right, period. While there should be an official launch on the left bank in the future, at the time of this writing such a launch exists only on draft paper. The current here has some pep, but it’s relatively easy to get to the left bank on the downstream side of the bridge without having to step outside of your boat and get wet. The bank here is steep, but it’s all sand. And there’s plenty of parking just above the bank, making this a choice access.

What we liked:
The geology along Lusk Creek is just gorgeous. Not only is it a cool conceit of wilderness paddling through a national forest, it equally feels good – good bordering on something like spiritual or religious (and not because this was Good Friday). This is what rivers should look like, what rivers used to look like. The jade-green water, the near-continuous rapids, the almost otherworldly boulders, bluffs, caves, cliffs, and canyon – it’s all simply extraordinary.

Go there. Just go. Be ready for it, and wait for it until conditions are right. But go.

What we didn’t like:
Well, of course there’s the fol-de-rol of the mirage-like, mysterious put-in and the 100-mins-long hike along forest trails just to get to the creek itself. That ended up eating a lot of time – and daylight, which while in the month of March is still a hot commodity. Even this far south – further south than Richmond, VA, for the record, capital of the Confederate South after all – daylight is not to be taken for granted.

Mind you, though this took an exceptionally long time, the reasons for that vary:

All in all, we portaged around 4 tricky spots total where paddling without incident seemed too difficult, and the portaging is none too easy in these parts; We took approximately 200 photographs, because it’s so ridonkulously gorgeous!; We cleared out a couple logs pinned against giant boulders that were not only impediments, but potentially lethal obstacles; We changed clothes once and sponged out our boats several times due to the rapids; and we intentionally dawdled a good 30 mins after seeing otters, waiting and hoping to see them pop up their periscopic heads or adorable little nostrils or scamper around the banks – otters being my girlfriend’s favorite animal, her soul-animal, which she’d never before seen in the wild.

In spite of the above disclaimers for how and why an 8-mile-long trip took 5 hours (which still strikes us as mindboggling), towards the end we were champing at the bit to be done, eagerly hopeful to see the bridge. I knew we had a longish and steep bike shuttle ahead of us, most of which would be done in the dark. (And of course our bikes didn’t have lights, because we never thought we’d be getting off the water only at 8pm! Mercifully, the moon was full and the sky unclouded.) And then there was my lurking anxiety about still driving up a short but steep hill section full of deep-rutted mud slop at Stone Bottom Road, once we’d have pedaled back to the car. And then finally was the mental calculation about just how long all of these inevitable logistics would take before we’d arrive safe and sound and dry and warm back to the campsite to then make a fire and make dinner (i.e., 10 pm). It was a long day.

This time-take also disabused us of the notion of exploring Saltpeter Cave. If we’d have had more time, and had we not just started, we’d have poked around and played about here, but alas. Hate to forfeit such a unique feature like that…

We will mention that there were two nasty obstacles to avoid altogether or try and negotiate, right away. The first was where the water bounced off a rock wall and boulder at an odd angle – against which an unrooted tree was pinned, with a large branch stretching across most of the creek’s narrow width. And of course the current was quite strong here. You’d have either to duck under the clotheslining branch or try to paddle around it… but of course all that pushy current took you right at the branch and boulder. In other words, Yikesville! The other was just downstream where a downed tree was in the water, pinned against an even bigger boulder, and stretched to the opposite bank. The current was slower here, and with enough pluck and stubbornness, one could ride over the tree (in higher water this likely wouldn’t even be an issue).

We mention these so as to illustrate the point that such obstacles should be considered inevitable on Lusk Creek.

Even though the wildlife was genuinely great from Ragan Road on, there was nothing – not a peep, squeak, squawk, flitter, flop, scamper, or kerplunk – nothing up until that point. What kind of wilderness is where the wild things aren’t? This was plain strange and pretty underwhelming.

And then, finally, there’s just the matter of fickle water levels. Not unlike my kayak, Lusk is a leaky creek. It literally was dropping in the five hours of our paddling on it. We did a fair share of scraping in the shallows and shoals, which is asinine considering it had five times the amount of water only 12 hours prior to our putting-in. Goldilocks, meet Queen Bee/Type A Valley Girl. Geeze louise!

If we did this trip again:
Oh, we will, for sure! But next time we’d do a few things differently. For starters, we’d wait to do this later in the year. While there is a unique advantage to paddling in early spring or late fall, when the trees are leafless to better take in the surrounding landscape, it would be great to see the wilderness in full unbridled greenery. Or better still, autumn. We’d wait also for Lusk Creek to be a little bit higher – not 1000-cfs-high, but somewhere in the 300-500 cfs range – to avoid scraping and get a bit more splash. And perhaps most important, we’d return only after the Pope County Highway crew improved Stone Bottom Road from its lunar crater impassibility and/or drive to the intended put-in with a 4WD truck to avoid schlepping in our gear via forest trails.

But this is all in an ideal world. In the real world, we’d essentially paddle Lusk Creek whenever it’s running. It’s definitely worth whatever inconveniences it poses.

Related Information:
Camp: Redbud Campground at Bell Smith Springs Recreational Area
General: American Whitewater
Good People: Friends of the Shawnee Forest
Lusk Creek Wilderness
Lusk Creek Canyon


Shuttle Information:
7.5 miles – mostly hilly, not the best for bicycling (narrow shoulders, fast roads), but doable. Note: the last ¾ mile along Stone Bottom Road is a dirt/mud road with crater-sized potholes and deep ruts.

A slightly shorter alternative route can be taken by turning right onto New Home Road just after heading up north on Highway 145. Google Maps incorrectly labels this road “Straight Road.” What’s further confusing is there are two places along Highway 145 one can turn right onto New Home Road – one south, just mentioned, or 2.3 miles north. New Home Road is a crude kind of backwards letter C, beginning and ending at Highway 145. Both ends go to Stone Bottom Road, which is the road you want. From Eddyville Blacktop Road, if you take the southern right turn onto New Home Road there will be less traffic, but the road is a bit more worn and haggard. There is however a great view of Bear Branch along the way, one of the bigger tributaries of Lusk Creek (and theoretically paddleable in its own right on the very rare days it has enough water in it). Taking the northern right turn onto New Home Road is all baby butt-smooth blacktop, but there’s more traffic and faster vehicles.

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Ashippun River

Ashippun River
9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Ashippun Lake to Ski Slide Road

Badfish Creek

Badfish Creek Overview
Our Guide to Badfish Creek

Badfish Creek VII
1.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road B to Sunrise Road

Badfish Creek VI
1.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sunrise Road to Old Stone Road

Badfish Creek V
6.16.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
11.22.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Stage Road to County Road H

Badfish Creek IV
5.30.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Stone Road to Casey Road

Badfish Creek III
8.3.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
3.10.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
5.20.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
8.7.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Stage Road to Casey Road

Badfish Creek II
7.31.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Stage Road to Highway 59

Badfish Creek I
5.17.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cooksville to Murwin County Park

Badger Mill Creek

Badger Mill Creek
9.30.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Old County Road PB to Highway 69

Baraboo River

Baraboo River Overview
Our Guide to the Baraboo River

Baraboo River V
4.23.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
La Valle to Reedsburg

Baraboo River IV
6.26.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Haskins Park to Highway 33

Baraboo River III
8.11.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Union Center to Wonewoc

Baraboo River II
5.23.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
8.1.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Haskins Park to Highway 113

Baraboo River I
9.20.08 | ☆
North Freedom to Highway 113

Bark River

Bark River VI
5.12.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sugar Island Road to Atkins-Olson Memorial Park

Bark River V
3.31.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road E to Hagedorn Road

Bark River IV
8.20.17 | ☆ ☆
Highway 164 to Merton

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

Beaver Dam River III
6.9.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cotton Mill Park to County Road J

Beaver Dam River II
5.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Leipsig to Lowell

Beaver Dam River I
10.25.14 | ☆ ☆
Mud Lake Road to County Road G

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 Earth Creek Overview
Our Guide to Black Earth Creek

Black Earth Creek V
3.19.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Black Earth to Hudson Road

Black Earth Creek IV
4.11.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Black Earth to Walking Iron Park

Black Earth Creek III
10.25.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cross Plains to Black Earth

Black Earth Creek II
5.31.14 | ☆ ☆
Blynn Road to Arena

Black Earth Creek I
8.17.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Walking Iron Park to Blynn Road

Black River

Black River V
10.20.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Willard Road to Grand Avenue

Black River IV
7.5.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Avenue to Riviera Avenue

Black River III
11.4.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Melrose to North Bend

Black River II
8.8.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hatfield to Black River Falls

Black River I
8.31-9.2.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Black River Falls to Melrose

Black River: East Fork

Black River: East Fork II
5.4.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Steponik Road to Overguard Road

Black River: East Fork I
6.29.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Overguard Road to East Fork Campground

Blue River

Blue River
5.5.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bluff Road to Shemak Road

Bois Brule River

Bois Brule River Overview
Our Guide to the Bois Brule River

Bois Brule River V
9.7.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Brule Glacial Spillway State Natural Area

Bois Brule River IV
9.4.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 13 to Lake Superior

Bois Brule River III
9.3.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Copper Range Landing to Highway 13

Bois Brule River II
9.6.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bois Brule Landing to Copper Range Landing

Bois Brule River I
9.2.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stone’s Bridge Landing to Bois Brule Landing

Boundary Waters (MN)

Boundary Waters: Kawishiwi River
7.2-7.8.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Kawishiwi Lake to Lake One

Cannon River (MN)

Cannon River II
8.25.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cannon Falls to Welch

Cannon River I
5.31.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Faribault to Dundas

Carroll Creek (IL)

Carroll Creek
6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
4.26.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

Castle Rock Creek/Fennimore Fork

Catfish Creek
3.21.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road Q to Witek 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

Cherokee Marsh

Cherokee Marsh
7.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Madison, Wisconsin

Chicago River (IL)

Chicago River
7.14.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Chicago, Illinois

Coon Fork Creek

Coon Fork Creek
5.30.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road CF to County Road G

Covel Creek (IL)

Covel Creek
6.18.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
East 18th Road to Highway 71

Crawfish River

Crawfish River III
4.17.16 | ☆ ☆
County Road I to County Road G

Crawfish River II
3.21.15 | ☆ ☆
Olson Road to Aztalan State Park

Crawfish River I
9.16.11 | ☆
Milford to Jefferson

Crawfish River: North Branch

Crawfish River: North Branch
6.8.15 & 6.10.15 | ☆ ☆
Fall River to Columbus-Fall River Road

Crystal River

Crystal River Overview
Our Guide to the Crystal River

Crystal River III
6.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Little Hope to Shadow Lake

Crystal River II
4.11.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Marl Lake to Shadow Lake Road

Crystal River I
7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
9.10.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rural to Shadow Lake Road

Dell Creek

Dell Creek
3.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
South Avenue to Dellwood

Devil’s Lake

Devil’s Lake
10.20.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Devil’s Lake State Park

Door Creek

Door Creek
4.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Femrite Drive to Fish Camp County Park

Dorn Creek

Dorn Creek
1.1.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Waunakee, Wisconsin

Duck Creek

Duck Creek
3.23.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road G to Duck Creek Road

Eau Claire River (Douglas County)

Eau Claire River (Douglas)
7.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Middle Eau Claire Lake to Gordon

Eau Claire River (Eau Claire County)

Eau Claire River II (Eau Claire)
5.29.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Harstad County Park to County Road K

Eau Claire River I (Eau Claire)
5.28.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Altoona Dam to Hobbs Landing

Eau Claire River (Marathon County)

Eau Claire River III (Marathon)
4.18.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Club House Road to Ross Avenue

Eau Claire River II (Marathon)
7.22.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dells of the Eau Claire Park to Club House Road

Eau Claire River I (Marathon)
6.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bear Lake Road to Dells of the Eau Claire Park

Eau Galle River

Eau Galle River
8.10.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Spring Valley to 770th Avenue

Embarrass River

Embarrass River
8.25.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 45 to County Road M

Flambeau River: North Fork

Flambeau River: North Fork III
7.4-7.5.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway W Landing to Flambeau Lodge Landing

Flambeau River: North Fork II
7.22.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
9 Mile Creek Landing to Dix Dox Landing

Flambeau River: North Fork I
8.17.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Robinson Landing to Holt’s Landing

Fond Du Lac River: West Branch

Fond Du Lac River: West Branch
6.25.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 23 to Lake Winnebago

Fox River (Green Bay Tributary)

Fox River III
3.1.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 33 to County Road O

Fox River II
4.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road O to Endeavor

Fox River I
5.14.14 | ☆ ☆
Swan Lake to Portage Canal

Fox River (Illinois River Tributary)

Fox River II
3.15.20 | ☆ ☆
Waterford to Burlington

Fox River I (IL)
8.21.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Serena to Wedron

Galena/Fever River

Galena/Fever River IV
11.1.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Twin Bridge Road to Bean Street Road

Galena/Fever River III
6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Horseshoe Bend Road to Buncombe Road

Galena/Fever River II
4.28.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Ensche Road to Buckhill Road

Galena/Fever River I
5.24.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road W to Ensche Road

Grand River

Grand River
5.22.15 | ☆ ☆
Manchester to Kingston

Grant River

Grant River II
4.24.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
11.21.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

Grant River I
4.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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
5.6.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
6.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Honey Creek (Sauk County)

Honey Creek (Sauk)
7.25.14 | ☆ ☆
County Road O to Ferry Bluff Landing

Honey Creek (Walworth County)

Honey Creek (Walworth)
4.16.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Bell School Road to County Road DD

Jump River

Jump River
8.30.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park

Kickapoo River

Kickapoo River III
8.22.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Landing 4 to Landing 14

Kickapoo River II
9.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockton to La Farge

Kickapoo River I
9.7-9.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ontario to Rockton

Kickapoo River: West Fork

Kickapoo River: West Fork
8.26.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road S to Highway 56

Kinnickinnic River

Kinnickinnic River II
4.29.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Falls to Kinnickinnic State Park

Kinnickinnic River I
8.11.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Falls to County Road F

Kishwaukee River (IL)

Kishwaukee River
6.17.12 | ☆ ☆
Cherry Valley to New Milford

Koshkonong Creek

Koshkonong Creek IV
7.20.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Busseyville to Lake Koshkonong

Koshkonong Creek III
7.15.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Cambridge to Hoopen Road

Koshkonong Creek II
5.5.13 | ☆ ☆
Britzke Road to Hoopen Road

Koshkonong Creek I
2.24.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Cambridge to Rockdale

La Crosse River

La Crosse River III
11.1.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial County Park to La Crosse

La Crosse River II
9.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 108 to Veterans Memorial County Park

La Crosse River I
8.2.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sparta to Bangor

Lake Columbia

Lake Columbia
2.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dekorra, Wisconsin

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota: Governor’s Island
12.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Madison, Wisconsin

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan: Horseshoe Island
7.5.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Lake Michigan: Port Washington
10.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Port Washington to Grafton

Lake Michigan: Ellison Bay
9.29.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sister Bay to Garret Bay

Lake Michigan: Cave Point County Park
8.17.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Lake Superior

Lake Superior: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
8.31.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Munising, Michigan

Lake Superior: Sea Caves
8.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bayfield County, Wisconsin

Lake Superior: Houghton Point
8.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bayfield County, Wisconsin

Lake Waubesa

Lake Waubesa Wetlands
5.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Madison, Wisconsin

Lemonweir River

Lemonweir River
9.17.13 | ☆ ☆
Lemonweir to Cliff House Road

Little Platte River

Little Platte River II
6.28.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road O to Banfield Bridge Recreation Area

Little Platte River I
7.23.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
7.6.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old Lancaster Road to County Road O

Little Sugar River

Little Sugar River
8.8.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Schneeberger Road to Albany

Little Turtle Creek

Little Turtle Creek
5.3.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
S. County Line Road to S. O’Riley Road

Little Wolf River

Little Wolf River IV
7.25.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Big Falls to Highway 110

Little Wolf River III
8.6.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ness Road to Big Falls

Little Wolf River II
8.25.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wolf River Road to Big Falls

Little Wolf River I
9.11.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Manawa to County Road X

Lulu Lake

Lulu Lake
4.28.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Eagle, Wisconsin

Lusk Creek (IL)

Lusk Creek
3.30.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Saltpeter Cave Crossing to Eddyville Blacktop Road

Manitowoc River

Manitowoc River II
7.15.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road S to Manitowoc

Manitowoc River I
7.14.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road JJ to County Road S

Maquoketa River: North Fork (IA)

Maquoketa River: North Fork
6.9.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway D61 to 60th Avenue

Maunesha River

Maunesha River V
4.3.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Marshall to Firemen’s Park

Maunesha River IV
4.5.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road TT to Canal Road

Maunesha River III
5.18.13 | ☆ ☆
Waterloo to Portland

Maunesha River II
6.13.13 | ☆ ☆
5.8.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Elder Lane to Twin Lake Road

Maunesha River I
4.21.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Waterloo Road to Firemen’s Park

Mecan River

Mecan River Overview
Our Guide to the Mecan River

Mecan River IV
6.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Dover Avenue to Germania

Mecan River III
6.3-6.4.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mecan River Springs to 11th Road

Mecan River II
10.26.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Germania to Lock Road

Mecan River I
5.18.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Dakota to Highway 22

Menomonee River

Menomonee River III
9.8.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Mayfair Road to Jacobus Park

Menomonee River II
7.27.17 | ☆ ☆
Pilgrim Road to Frontier Park

Menomonee River I
7.3.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Frontier Park to Jacobus Park

Mill Creek (Iowa County)

Mill Creek (Iowa)
6.8.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Loy Road to Highway 23

Mill Creek (Portage County)

Mill Creek (Portage)
10.16.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Robin Lane to West River Drive

Mill Creek (Richland County)

Mill Creek (Richland)
10.29.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Crossover Road to Highway 60

Milwaukee River

Milwaukee River VIII
7.2.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Estabrook Park to Bruce Street

Milwaukee River VII
9.29.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
West Bend to Newburg

Milwaukee River VI
9.30.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fredonia to Grafton

Milwaukee River V
6.20.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Grafton to County Highway T

Milwaukee River IV
7.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Kewaskum to Barton

Milwaukee River III
7.27.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Grafton to Thiensville

Milwaukee River II
7.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Estabrook Park to Discovery World

Milwaukee River I
6.20.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
6.24.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Newburg to Fredonia

Milwaukee River: East Branch

Milwaukee River: East Branch III
9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Dundee to Mauthe Lake

Milwaukee River: East Branch II
6.16.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
New Fane to Kewaskum

Milwaukee River: East Branch I
6.3.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
New Prospect to New Fane

Mink River

Mink River
8.16.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Rowley’s Bay

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake
10.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
5.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Montello River

Montello River
11.8.16-11.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Harrisville to 11th Road

Moon Lake

Moon Lake
6.19.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Montello, Wisconsin

Mormon Creek

Mormon Creek
8.3.14 | ☆ ☆
Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

Morrison Creek

Morrison Creek II
5.5.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cemetery Road to Pettibone Pass

Morrison Creek I
9.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Cemetery Road to Morrison Landing

Mukwonago River

Mukwonago River
11.3.15 | ☆ ☆
Mukwonago to Big Bend

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 Landing

Neenah Creek

Neenah Creek
4.19.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road EE to Oxford

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Nippersink Creek
11.3.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Richmond to Spring Grove

Oconomowoc River

Oconomowoc River III
6.4.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Monches to Okauchee Lake

Oconomowoc River II
4.8.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Avenue to Fowler Lake Park

Oconomowoc River I
6.25.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Concord Road to County Road P

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

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch
8.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Watersmeet to Forest Road 5250

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River V (IL)
11.15.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pecatonica River Nature Preserve to Trask Bridge Forest Preserve

Pecatonica River IV
5.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mifflin to Jones Branch Road

Pecatonica River III
4.16.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Brownton to Winslow

Pecatonica River II
11.15.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Darlington to Red Rock

Pecatonica River I
6.16.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Calamine to Darlington

Pecatonica River: Dodge Branch

Pecatonica River: Dodge Branch
5.13.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sunny Ridge Road to Banner Road

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Pecatonica River: East Branch VII
11.11.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 78 to River Road

Pecatonica River: East Branch VI
10.26.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hollandale to Horseshoe Bend Road

Pecatonica River: East Branch V
5.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Woodford to Highway 11

Pecatonica River: East Branch IV
4.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Argyle to Blackhawk Memorial County Park

Pecatonica River: East Branch III
3.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway HK to Hollandale

Pecatonica River: East Branch II
11.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hollandale to Blanchardville

Pecatonica River: East Branch I
9.29.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 78 to Argyle

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch II
6.24.18 + 10.14.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Ludden to S. Oak Park Road

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch I
7.30.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oak Park Road to County Road O

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshekee River
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Peshekee Grade to 3-Mile Mark

Peshtigo River

Peshtigo River
9.2.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burnt Bridge to Goodman Park

Pewaukee River

Pewaukee River
6.16.19 | ☆ ☆
Koepp Park to Bluemound Road

Pigeon River

Pigeon River
12.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road J to Lake Michigan

Pine River (Lincoln County)

Pine River (Lincoln)
9.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Center Road to County Road W

Pine River (Richland County)

Pine River II (Richland)
5.12.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Krouskop Park to Twin Bluffs Road

Pine River I (Richland)
7.26.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
4.7.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockbridge to County Road AA

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Piscasaw Creek III
4.17.17 | ☆ ☆
Denny Road to Squaw Prairie Road

Piscasaw Creek II
4.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Streit Road to Denny Road

Piscasaw Creek I
4.9.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Maxon Road to Streit Road

Platte River

Platte River Overview
Our Guide to the Platte River

Platte River VIII
5.15.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Indian Creek Road to The Mississippi River

Platte River VII
9.23.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Coon Hollow Road to Ellenboro

Platte River VI
2.27.18 + 5.4.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road E to County Road A

Platte River V
3.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Platte Road

Platte River IV
10.28.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Big Platte Road to Indian Creek Road

Platte River III
11.10.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Platte Road to Big Platte Road

Platte River II
9.22.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to Platte Road

Platte River I
6.19.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to County Road B

Plover River

Plover River IV
9.27.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Boundary Road to Kristof Road

Plover River III
5.18.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Shantytown Road to Jordan Park

Plover River II
9.23.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Esker Road to Bevent Drive

Plover River I
5.17.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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

Red Cedar River II
9.17.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Menomonie to Dunnville

Red Cedar River I
5.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Menomonie to Downsville

Robinson Creek

Robinson Creek II
9.14.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Kelly Road to West Pine Hill Road

Robinson Creek I
5.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Rock Creek

Rock Creek
3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Rock River IV
7.16.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Watertown to Johnson Creek

Rock River III
9.27.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Kanow Park to County Road P

Rock River II
9.21.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Janesville to Beloit

Rock River I (IL)
8.4.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oregon to Dixon

Root River

Root River
8.2.13 | ☆ ☆
5 Mile Road to Horlick Dam

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Root River: South Branch II
8.26.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Preston Trailhead Park to Heron Road

Root River: South Branch I
9.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 5 to Preston Trailhead Park

Rubicon River

Rubicon River
5.27.15 | ☆ ☆
Saylesville to Neosho

Scuppernong Creek

Scuppernong Creek
4.26.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sunset Drive to Gramling Lane

Scuppernong River

Scuppernong River
8.4.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 106 to County Road D

Seeley Creek

Seeley Creek
5.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road

Sheboygan River

Sheboygan River VI
10.12.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
St. Cloud to Sheboygan Broughton Marsh County Park

Sheboygan River V
10.14.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheboygan Broughton Marsh County Park to Kiel

Sheboygan River IV
10.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Millhome to Johnsonville

Sheboygan River III
10.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Johnsonville to Dassow Park

Sheboygan River II
10.19.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dassow Park to Sheboygan Falls

Sheboygan River I
10.3.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheboygan Falls to Lake Michigan

Six Mile Creek

Six Mile Creek
6.7.14 | ☆
Waunakee Village Park to South Woodland Drive

Spring Creek

Spring Creek II
3.4.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lee Road to Veterans Memorial Park

Spring Creek I
4.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fair Street to County Road V

St. Croix River

St. Croix River II
8.11.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Osceola to Somerset Landing

St. Croix River I
8.8.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
St. Croix Falls to Osceola

Starkweather Creek

Starkweather Creek
6.08 | ☆
Yahara River to Highway 30

Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek II
4.17.17 | ☆
Bowers Road to State Road 120

Sugar Creek I
4.15.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road ES to Bowers Road

Sugar River

Sugar River Overview
Our Guide to the Sugar River

Upper Sugar River

Sugar River XII
7.24.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
White Crossing Road to Valley Road

Sugar River X
10.4.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 69 to County Road A

Sugar River IX
3.28.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Belleville

Sugar River VII
9.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Riverside Road to Paoli

Sugar River III
7.22.11 | ☆
Valley Road to Paoli

Sugar River II
7.3.11 | ☆
Paoli to Belleville

Middle Sugar River

Sugar River XI
11.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Attica to Albany

Sugar River VI
5.18.14 | ☆ ☆
Albany to Brodhead

Sugar River IV
8.11.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road X to County Road EE

Sugar River I
6.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Belleville to County Road X

Lower Sugar River

Sugar River VIII
9.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Brodhead to Avon

Sugar River V (IL)
9.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Colored Sands Forest Preserve to North Meridian Road

Sugar River: West Branch

Sugar River: West Branch
7.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fritz Road to County Road PB

Token Creek

Token Creek II
4.22.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Token Creek Preserve Park to Daentl Road

Token Creek I
5.22.11 | ☆
8.22.09 | ☆ ☆
5.2.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Tomorrow River

Tomorrow-Waupaca River Overview
Our Guide to the Tomorrow-Waupaca 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

Trempealeau River II
9.27.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 35 to Perrot State Park

Trempealeau River I
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitehall to Independence

Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek Overview
Our Guide to Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek V
3.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Fairfield to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek IV
6.21.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
School Section Road to O’Riley Road

Turtle Creek III
6.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Springs Park to School Section Road

Turtle Creek II
8.30.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
O’Riley Road to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek I
7.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street

Upper Iowa River (IA)

Upper Iowa River II
5.29.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Kendallville to Bluffton

Upper Iowa River I
5.24.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road

Waupaca River

Tomorrow-Waupaca River Overview
Our Guide to the Tomorrow-Waupaca River

Waupaca River VI
10.10.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Buchholz Road to County Highway Q

Waupaca River V
9.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Riverview Park to Reek Road

Waupaca River IV
6.2.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Weyauwega to Decker Memorial Park

Waupaca River III
10.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Amherst to Durrant Road

Waupaca River II
9.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway DD to County Highway Q

Waupaca River I
4.12.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
7.7.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
7.9.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Wausau Whitewater Park

Wausau Whitewater Park
7.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wausau, Wisconsin

Wedges Creek

Wedges Creek II
5.5.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road B to Rouse Road

Wedges Creek I
9.20.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Middle Road to Riviera Avenue

White River (Bayfield County)

White River (Bayfield)
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Maple Ridge Road to Highway 112

White River (Walworth County)

White River III (Walworth)
3.12.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

White River II (Walworth)
6.30.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Wagner Park

White River I (Walworth)
5.15.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

White River (Waushara County)

White River (Waushara)
11.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road YY to Czech Lane

Whitewater Creek (IA)

Whitewater Creek
6.18.18 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitewater Drive to Highway D61

Willow Creek

Willow Creek
8.5.17 + 8.22.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 58 to Dog Hollow Road

Wisconsin River

Merrill to Wausau

Wisconsin River XI
5.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Grandfather Dam to Lokemoen Road

Wisconsin River IX
12.2.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine River to Texas

Mosinee to Plover

Wisconsin River XVIII
9.28.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Al Tech Park to West River Drive

Wisconsin River XVII
7.24.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Blue Heron Island

Wisconsin River XVI
7.23.19 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake DuBay Dam to County Road HH

Castle Rock Lake to Prairie Du Sac

Wisconsin River XIV
7.11.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Castle Rock Dam to Lyndon Station

Wisconsin River XIII
10.11.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Bay Road to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River XII
6.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine Island to Portage

Wisconsin River X
4.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Portage to Dekorra

Wisconsin River VII
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Dells to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River VI
8.15.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dekorra to Whalen Bay

Wisconsin River V
10.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
6.1.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells

Prairie Du Sac to The Mississippi River

Lower Wisconsin Overview
Our Guide to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway

Wisconsin River XIX
6.10-6.14.20 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Prairie Du Sac to Wyalusing Landing

Wisconsin River XV
9.4.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Spring Green to Lone Rock

Wisconsin River VIII
6.22-6.23.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lone Rock to Muscoda

Wisconsin River IV
9.4-9.5.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Prairie Du Sac to Arena

Wisconsin River III
5.29-5.31.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Arena to Gotham

Wisconsin River II
9.5-9.7.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gotham to Boscobel

Wisconsin River I
8.22-8.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Boscobel to Wyalusing State Park

Wolf River

Wolf River III
9.6.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Hollister

Wolf River II
9.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Lily

Wolf River I
8.29.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Langlade

Yahara River

Yahara River Overview
Our Guide to the Yahara River

Yahara River VIII
4.19.16 | ☆ ☆
Windsor to Yahara Heights County Park

Yahara River VII
3.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mud Lake to Lake Kegonsa

Yahara River VI
12.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Stoughton to Stebbensville Road

Yahara River V
12.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Kegonsa to Stoughton

Yahara River IV
7.16.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
7.22.13 | ☆ ☆
5.25.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Yahara River III
6.6.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Murwin County Park to Janesville

Yahara River II
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
9.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to County Road H

Yahara River I
7.13.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
8.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park

Yellow Creek (IL)

Yellow Creek
4.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Bolton Road to Krape Park

Yellow River (Taylor County)

Yellow River (Taylor)
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Miller Dam to County Road H

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

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