Sheboygan River - Wisconsin

Date: June 6, 2021; Length: 8 miles; Duration: 2 hours 45 min

Put In: Highway 57 Bridge

Side of the road parking, with somewhat of a clear area in the tall grass to access the river from.

Takeout: Garton Rd Bridge

Side of the road parking and a few decent spots to take out around the bridge.

Paddling Experience = 4/5

The current was decent at times and lacking other times. The water level was right on the edge too, with a decent amount of brief scraping and shallow rock bed dodging. Otherwise it was a good time of paddling.

Natural Scenery = 4/5

Trees line both sides of the river most of the way, with some high grass banks in the mix as well. Otherwise human development shows more heavily in bridges than houses.

Accessibility = 4/5

There are more bridges than miles in this 8-mile section making for a variety of access options. The downfall is in the quality of these options, consisting of improvised carry ins and outs.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: ~2 feet per mile. The current was decent at times with some riffles here and there but otherwise lacking.
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: 
This water level was a little too low. I found myself keeping an eye out for and weaving around shallow rock beds and had a decent amount of brief scraping along the way.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: located in Sheboygan, WI, about 30 miles down river of this trip's takeout.):

  • USGS Number = 04086000
  • Discharge Rate = 215 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 2.37 ft

Overall Experience

Planning: The Sheboygan River is located in southeastern Wisconsin and flows southeast into Lake Michigan.  Mike Svob has two trips of the Sheboygan River in his book Paddling Southern Wisconsin, which I used to plan for a shortened 8-mile trip from highway 73 to Garton road.

Paddling: The river remained fairly narrow, with some winding and islands as well.  The current was decent at times, but lacking otherwise.  Riffles occurred here and there but so did shallow rock beds and subsequently, scraping.  This wouldn’t be an issue with a little higher level of water though.  There were a few tight squeezes from down trees too, but no portages necessary.  Overall, not a bad paddling experience for this river.

Observations: The river was light brown, but with decent clarity where rock bottoms and small boulders were a common sight.  Trees typically lined the river banks, with some high grass banks in there as well.  Houses were uncommon besides a handful in the middle of this stretch of river.  Bridges on the other hand were prevalent, with about a bridge per every mile of river.  This being said, my time on the water was desolate without any other paddlers or people off the water in sight.  I did come across some ducks, a blue heron, a deer, and some frogs though.

Reflecting: Looking back on this river trip, it is a fairly uneventful one compared to others I have taken.  Some were thrilling or had beautiful surroundings, while others were overly developed or paddling grinds with portages and so on, but this section of the Sheboygan river is more of an inbetweener.  So if you are in the area or just want to check this section of the Sheboygan off your paddled list, then have at it.  I would just suggest a higher water level.