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Saint Croix/Namekagon River Wisconsin

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In that general area is probably one of the best whitewater rivers in Wisconsin. Brule River is a three day run from Stone's Bridge to Lake Superior with one short portage (100') around the eel dam. Second day trek has great rapids known as the Ledges. I would not recommend running that particular rapids with new scouts. Just portage it, not a big deal. Older boys would appreciate the rush. I have witnessed 72 year old women who are fairly good kayakers make it with no problem. If you rent, they require helmets and skirts for the kayakers and helmets for the canoeists who want to run the Ledges. The whole river is pristine trout fishing and has some great newbie canoe/kayaker rapids, level 2 is max. There are two DNR campgrounds in the area and a city park in Nabagomon that has camping. All are nice. Stay away from Memorial Day weekend, the Sierra Club comes in and there are hundreds of people on the river at that time. I have gone up there in August and pretty much had the place to ourselves. If your boys are into nature and natural beauty, this is definitely the river to take.


The Brule from Lake Superior to it's headwaters, short portage to the St. Croix River, are the rivers that connected Lake Superior to the Mississippi River just like the Fox/Wisconsin connect Lake Michigan to the Mississippi. The Ice Age Trail cuts through the Brule/St. Croix portage.


The other river I have done in the area is the Flambeau River, more middle of the state. There are maps for some of the more difficult rapids. You will definitely need the maps! If the map says stay to the left, you will regret not being there. :) Definitely need more experienced scouts. This is definitely not for the Parlor Scouts. Park Falls has a city campground near the local Troop meeting place. People find multiple stretches of the river to their level of expertise and enjoyment.


If you decide on the Brule, let me know! My wife and I provide a guide service to scout troops. It's free, just an excuse for her and I to go up there yet again. She's a forester/naturalist by training and an excellent kayaker. I have had experience with both canoe and kayak on the river.


I have only been on the Flambeau once, but my wife has done it annually for years. I'm not sure, but I think the Mrs. has been on the St. Croix/Namekogan as well.



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My Troop has done trips here for many years. It is a great time for all. We usually do the lower section after the dam and time it so we end up at our takeout point on the 3rd day. Campsites are first come first serve, so the challange is finding a site that can either handle the entire group. We have first year Scouts join share a canoe with a more experienced paddler. We end up on the St. Croix. eare going soon - June 13-15 as planned for now.



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St. Croix river is my favorite river for an easy canoe trip. I've done a bit on the Namekagon. Cannon river is nice too. But St. Croix is gorgeous especially if you canoe when the leaves are turning colors.


When water levels are right and the weather cooperates, the river travels at a rate that you almost don't need to paddle. It can be a nice relaxing trip and a perfect first trip for young scouts.


Random comments ...


- Maps. http://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/maps.htm


- Water levels. http://www.nps.gov/sacn/planyourvisit/riverlevels.htm


- Water levels. They change alot on this river based on weather in season and there are times I would not take young scouts on the river. In spring, speed, debris and hidden dangers can be bad but some rapids almost disappear because there is enough water. In late September / October, the low water can cause rapids to be just rocks to get canoes wedged on.


- Watch water levels. Example ... St. Croix River S100.8 through S96.7 is painful "if you take the wrong turn" onto the Kettle River Slough during low water. You will end up walking your canoe over rocks for two miles and twisting your ankles on each rock. Not fun. Made that mistake.


- Plan your water. Not all stopping points have potable water. You can purify, but it's nice to have easy fresh water after a long day on the river.


- Party spots. St. Croix river camping spots can be be popular and used by groups just wanting to drink. We usually look for camp spots that are unpopular. #1 Don't have water. #2 Don't have easy road access. Example ... Wisconsin side of S71.8 Sunrise Ferry Landing. Road is a good hike away from camp spots and no water. We've only once had someone camp there with us once and there are five large camping spots. For water, we canoe across the river and down a bit to the Minnesota side. Everyone sends their water bottles with and jugs with the assigned canoes to get water.


- Car security. We've shuttled cars back and forth between our launch points. We've had good luck parking in the Wild River state park at the canoe rental location. And we plan to leave the river there. Cars have never been broken in there. Other spots are not safe. Example ... never leave a car overnight at S89.7 H70 Landing. Always an issue.


- Wind. I swear there are specific sections of the river during specific times of day that are bad for wind. Mid-morning S66 through S62 are some of the worst. Wind wips down the slopes onto the river. But it's all relative and there are tricks to deal with it.


- We usually do our trip the last week the camp rangers will rent canoes to us. Last week in September or 1st week in October. Few people are on the river at that time and it feels like you are alone in the wilderness instead of on a popular tourist trek.


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