Rock River - Wisconsin

Date: July 7, 2022; Length: 11 miles; Duration: 3 hours 45 min

Put In: County MM Bridge

Side of the road parking with a path leading down to a landing area on the downstream river right side of the bridge.

Takeout: County CW Landing (Kaul Park)

Landing ramp shortly before the County CW bridge on river right with room to park making for easy access.

Paddling Experience = 4/5

11 miles of a fairly flat section of river usually makes for a long time paddling, but the water was pretty high with a decent current and flow. The river also only widened out a few times and did a good amount of winding.

Natural Scenery = 4/5

Houses were uncommon, while two other bridges and one county park occurred in the second half of this trip. But this section of river is also consistently surrounded by grass banks and clusters of trees, keeping a natural feel while out on the water.

Wildlife = 4/5

I had recurring sightings of blue herons, bald eagles, and hawks, along with some ducks and geese. Two deer sightings also occurred and a turtle crossing the road while I was hiking the shuttle.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: ~1 foot per mile.
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: The water level was great. It was high with flooded areas with trees underwater, but this also gave the water a decent current and flow.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: Gauge located in Watertown, WI, about 25 miles downstream of this trip's takeout, with two dams in between.):

  • USGS Number = 05425500
  • Discharge Rate = 1400 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 3.27 ft

Overall Experience

Planning: The Rock River is a good sized river that starts in southeastern Wisconsin and flows southwest into Illinois and continues on until merging with the Mississippi River. Mike Svob has 5 trips of the Rock River in his books Paddling Southern Wisconsin and Paddling Illinois that total about 60 miles. I had done two of his trips in the past three years and chose to do the 11-mile section of County MM – Kaul Park to link up these past paddled trips.

Shuttle: The 7-mile shuttle was pretty good for a 11-mile section of river. The fastest route took county and back roads which I hiked with my packed packraft and other gear. I ended up getting up to the put in after 2 hours of hiking.

Paddling: The water was high and gave the water a decent current and good flow. So the paddling was pretty easy, while the river had moderate width and a good amount of winding to help pass the time. Only one obstruction of a few downed logs occurred after a mile or two but at this level of water I was able to scoot over them with ease.

Observations: The river isn’t the clearest but is consistently surrounded by grass banks and clusters of trees. Bridges and houses are limited and mostly occur in the second half of this section. I only came across one other small boat in the last couple miles of this trip, while having recurring sightings of blue herons, bald eagles, and hawks, along some ducks, geese, and two deer, plus a turtle on my shuttle hike.

Reflecting: The main appeal to doing this section of the Rock River was to connect with other past sections I’ve paddled of it. After this trip, I’ve done 4 different sections and about connecting 59 miles of the river. So I look forward to continuing on with more sections of the Rock in future years and will look to do so at similar higher water levels, having experienced both high and low water on it.