Date: May 8, 2021; Length: 11 miles; Duration: 4 hours
The Grant is a river in the southwest corner of Wisconsin that flows into the Mississippi River. Mike Svob has two trips of the Grant river outlined in his book Paddling Southern Wisconsin. The first is from Porter-Hill road to County U bridge, an 11-mile section of river, which is what I planned to paddle. The map of the river showed a good amount of winding, making for a short shuttle of 5 miles from the takeout to the put in.
When the day came, I parked my vehicle off Blackjack road, right by County U bridge and quickly got my hike to the put in out of the way. As I neared my destination, I noticed that the road the put in was off of was actually called Short Cut road. A sign for public fishing and a canoe landing assured me I was in the right place. Here is a flat grass area that leads to a steep bank and an improvised put in. But after some careful movements and transitions I was officially on the Grant river for the first time. And what a cool river and even better surroundings. The river had a grayish brown color to it with some green tint thanks to the surrounding green trees. These trees usually came in the form of bluffs to top it off. Rock formations went along with these bluffs while mud and grass banks were more of the minority over this stretch of river. And the river had rocks of its own. Boulders occurred at times while the water was pretty clear throughout, otherwise showing sand and rock bed bottoms. The river started narrow and grew in width a little, but always kept an intimate feel to it while paddling. The water level was pretty good and only left me with a few instances of minor scraping, while the current was either well established or lacking. In the former, riffles intermittently occurred breaking the paddling experience up. Some small islands were also in the mix, but what I’ll really remember from this trip was the major blockage with about two miles left to paddle. It was a cumulation of trees instead of the lone tree blocking the width of the river where Pigeon River road closely parallels the river on the right. With portage unavoidable I paddled back up river briefly to seek out an ideal place to exit the water, get up the bank and pass by the blockage. I chose the left side of the river to do so, which was a struggle on all levels and not a recommended route to follow. Looking back on it, the right side should be a better option especially with the road right there. But once that ordeal was through, I got back on the water and finished the last couple miles. My takeout was to come on the right with the County U bridge above. Unfortunately I missed the more ideal access option once again and took out at some rocks, while maybe fifty feet further was a small stone platform with steps and a rail leading back up to Blackjack road just under the bridge.
Aside from the needed portage, this was a great river trip. I didn’t even get to mentioning the wildlife, spotting the usual geese and ducks, but also three bald eagles and deer taking off once noticing my presence. The natural scenery was a nice surprise with a variety to it, while the river remained pretty intimate and fun with many riffles. I look forward to returning to another section of this river and this area of the state in general for the combination of a great paddling experience and natural surroundings.