Pine River - Wisconsin

Date: July 25, 2021; Length: 7.5 miles; Duration: 2 hours 45 min

Put In: Highway 139 Bridge

Pullout parking area with a grass path leading to rocks at the water's edge on the downstream left side of the bridge for a easy put in.

Takeout: Chipmunk Rapids Rd Bridge

Side of the road parking and small path leading down to the water on the downstream right side after the rapid which isn't too difficult to catch.

Paddling Experience = 4/5

An intimate river with natural surroundings, a pretty good current and light rapids, and no downed trees causing issues makes for a nice paddling experience. What could have been better is the water level for both the calm stretches (scraping on rock beds) and the rapids (slow moving).

Natural Scenery = 5/5

A handful of houses occurred early on before the two bridges, but that was the extent of human development. It helps that this is a wild & scenic river in national forest. River banks typically consisted of dense trees with times where one side became open tall grass momentarily.

Solitude = 5/5

Located in national forest, it's not surprising that this trip was spent in solitude. I didn't come across any other paddlers and saw just a few people by their houses early on. My put in and takeout were quiet as well.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: ~7 feet per mile. Pretty good current in calm stretches, with nice Class I-II rapids to end the trip.
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: The water level was a little too low. There were a fair amount of shallow rock beds that required some scooting and getting out and walking a few times, while the rapids at the end were slow moving.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: located at the Hwy N bridge, about 30 miles downstream of this trip's takeout.):

  • USGS Number = 04064500
  • Discharge Rate = 300 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 2.3 ft

Overall Experience

Planning: The Pine River is located in northeastern Wisconsin and flows east until entering the Menominee River, which is also the Wisconsin-Michigan border.  Mike Svob has three successive trips of the Pine totaling a little over 40 miles in his book Paddling Northern Wisconsin.  I used his second trip to plan for a 7.5 mile section from highway 139 bridge to Chipmunk Rapids bridge.  This stretch of river is calm and riffly early on, with two pitches of the class I-II Chipmunk rapids in the last mile.

Paddling: The river had a pretty good current most of the way, while staying fairly narrow in width.  The water level could have been a tad higher for comfort, as shallow rock beds became a recurring issue.  I did a good amount of maneuvering to find the deepest part of the river to try and pass through along with lots of scooting and a few instances of giving in and getting out and walking until coming to deeper water on the shallow rock beds.  Nearing the takeout were the class I-II Chipmunk rapids, which not surprisingly were boney and slow moving at this water level.  A shallow ledge drop led to a narrow boulder garden and a shorter boulder garden in the next section of this rapid.

Observations: The river has good clarity with its orange tinted rocks showing under it dark brown water.  The river bottom was mostly rock bed, with some vegetation and boulders in the mix.  Beyond the water, the banks were lined with forests and occasionally had open tall grass on one side.  There were a handful of houses between the railroad and forest road bridges about a mile and a half in to this trip, with neither houses or bridges from here to the takeout.  In my near three hours paddling, I came across no other paddlers but did spot some ducks, a turtle and four deer, with one being a fawn.

Reflecting: This river trip and the Pine river in general, being a wild and scenic river, has lots of potential with its nice current, narrow width, rapids, scenery and surroundings.  I would recommend this section or any of the Pine in Mike Svob’s Paddling Northern Wisconsin.  The only consideration would be to account for the water level, as I clearly did not.  So I’m sure I’ll revisit this section of the Pine at some point at a higher water level for a nice uninterrupted paddle with an actual run of Chipmunk rapids.