Wisconsin River - Wisconsin

Date: May 23, 2020; Length: 20.4 miles; Duration: 4 hours 30 min

Put In: Sauk Canoe Landing

Parking lot with short sandy walk to put in with easy access.

Takeout: Peck's Landing

Sand bar on river right at the parking lot right before Hwy 23 bridge. Lots of space to take out.

Paddling Experience = 3/5

This river is wide, with motored watercraft on it as well. But it also had a strong current making for a quicker than normal paddling rate. Consistent sandbars along the banks and to islands made for easy stops at almost anytime.

Natural Scenery = 3/5

This section of the Lower Wisconsin is lined with deciduous trees, with plenty of islands of the same nature and sandbars all over. There are a handful of bridges or landings, but very little sign of civilization besides other recreational paddlers, fishermen, and campers.

Accessibility = 4/5

There are limited spots to get on and off the river in this 20-mile section, but ones that are available make for easy access, with plenty of parking and restrooms provided. And when on the river, accessibility is all over with endless sandbars to stop and to even camp at.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: ~2 ft per mile. Good current consistently.
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: Paddling at this water level went well. It is a big river with consistently strong flow and plenty of room to paddle. A good amount of sandbars were exposed to stop or camp at as well.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: Muscoda gauge, located 23 miles downriver of the takeout):

  • USGS Number = 05407000
  • Discharge Rate = 12000 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 3.0 ft

Overall Experience

This Wisconsin River trip was the first of the year for me and started with some uncertainty due to impending thunderstorms in the late morning. Not wanting to miss out on my first river of the year, I took to an early morning start at Sauk Canoe Landing, about 20 miles from my needed takeout. And thankfully the thunderstorms and even rain held off, though it looked like it was constantly around the corner while paddling.
The river was wide with a noticeable current that ended up pushing me over a rare 4 MPH paddling rate in my Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak. Big islands and sandbars were constantly popping up, with some tents camped out on and some people fishing as well. And as the time passed I started to see a handful of kayakers and canoers and later motor boats, with it being Memorial Day weekend and all. As for non-human life, the main sightings were of turtles and pelicans. There were about ten pelicans grouped together at a sandbar roughly ten miles into paddling, and I was spotting logs lined with turtles at times that easily 100 strong in spurts.
Time flew on the Wisconsin, noticing signs of my takeout to come a good hour before I thought I would. Before I knew it I was passing the bridges to the railroad and highway right before my takeout at Peck’s Landing, which had a big sandbar connected to the landing area and parking lot that made for an easy takeout.