Water Fun in Northwest Wisconsin
Looking for your next water adventure?
From a peaceful flatwater float to an exhilarating white water experience, paddling enthusiasts from beginner to expert will find the perfect waterway. You will also find amazing scenery and excellent fishing, so pack your fishing gear, camera and maybe an extra set of clothes—just in case!
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Ashland County, Bayfield County
Length/Landings: Madeline Island; Access at Big Bay State Park
Enjoy World Class Sea Kayaking through Madeline Island with spectacular views of the Apostle Islands. Launch at Big Bay State Park to tour mainland sea caves. Guide services available.
Length/Landings: 44 Miles
This unique, 44-mile-long river varies from a meandering stream in a conifer bog to a fast flowing river with numerous rapids and ledges. As it flows north, the Brule River drops 418 feet in elevation, plunging 328 feet in just the last 19 miles.
The waters that surround Brunet Island provide an outstanding flat-water paddling experience. In addition to the main island, there are a number of undeveloped islands separated by narrow channels. With a few strokes of the paddle, you’ll feel like you are in the deep wilderness. The area is unmatched for wildlife viewing and is home to a huge population of white-tailed deer.
This cluster of lakes in the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area offers a “Mini Boundary Waters” type experience to paddlers. Small in size, but wonderfully wild, these glacially-formed lakes provide canoeists and kayakers with a serene, scenic and secluded experience. Well-worn trails allow short portages between groups of interconnected lakes and ponds. A number of boat launches are located throughout the recreation area.
Length/Landings: Copper Falls State Park; Access at Loon Lake.
Location: 2 miles NE of Mellen. Take State Hwy 13 to the north side of Mellen and turn (NE) on State Hwy 169. Go about 1.8 miles. The park entrance will be on your left.
Eau Claire Chain of Lakes
A total of 3,200 acres of spring-fed lakes with connecting channels and a hand-operated lock/dam system.
Length/Landings: Approx. 40 miles, including North & South Fork; Multiple landings and campsites. One of the best paddling experiences in the Midwest, with whitewater and slower stretches, on a largely undeveloped river featuring deep woodland habitat. Noted for numerous mid-sized muskies, also excellent smallmouth and walleye fishing. Heavily forested Flambeau River State Forest good for seeing eagles, osprey and white-tailed deer. Excellent primitive campsites.
Length/Landings: 10 miles from Jump River to Sheldon.
Free-flowing, pristine and dam-free for its entire length, from its source to its confluence with the Chippewa. Much of this pristine river receives little or no fishing pressure. Expect lots of musky, sucker, some walleye and smallmouth. Forested stretches are great places to see pileated woodpeckers, kingfishers and other woodland birds. Larger pools with large timber are good places to see eagles and osprey.
Lake Wissota is the largest flat-water paddling opportunity on the Chippewa River. The lake was created when a dam was constructed from 1915-1917 backing up the Chippewa River and forming the 6,300 acre lake you see today. The lake can be accessed through Lake Wissota State Park, which feature a boat landing and a full range of amenities, including canoe and kayak rentals.
Length/Landings: 20 miles; Multiple landings.
This is a 20-mile novice trail with many options for put in and take out. The river is a clean sandy bottom with a steady current. There are common access points off of Hwy 51 S of Mercer.
Bayfield, Burnett, Sawyer & Washburn Counties
Length/Landings: 12 miles in Burnett, 28 miles in Sawyer, 50 miles in Washburn (101 miles total); Multiple landings.
Part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the Namekagon begins in Bayfield county and crosses Sawyer, Washburn and Burnett counties on its way to the St. Croix River. The river is managed by the National Park Service and offers multiple landings, camping, rentals, and shuttle service.
City of Park Falls to Nine Mile Creek
Length/Landings: 12 miles/6 hours; 4 landings.
Hines Park & Campground, Saunders Avenue, Park Falls. This is a relaxing journey over calm water with excellent fishing and camping opportunities. Avoid two of the four portages by starting at the Highway 13 Bridge.
Length/Landings: 34 miles; Access in Mikana.
34 miles on the Red Cedar River starting at Mikana, in northeast Barron County, and having a variety of access points while passing through the communities of Rice Lake, Cameron and Sand Creek before joining with the Chippewa River.
Length/Landings: Approx. 32 miles; Multiple landings.
Relatively wide and curving, with lots of deep holes. A variety of paddles with great fishing and scenery. Famous fishery for walleye and musky, as well as northern pike and panfish. Also, smallmouth approaching 20 inches. Wooded stretches and backwaters provide excellent wildlife viewing. Look for common loons, wood ducks, mergansers and heron.
Length: Varies. Two primitive canoe/kayak routes located north of Birchwood near the Sawmill Campground offer a mini boundary water experience. The portage routes lie within a heavily forested area with a high density of small glacial lakes. These lakes are land locked, deep, soft water lakes with steep banks and wooded shores. A canoe portage system has been market to guide paddlers through this beautiful, remote area of Northern Wisconsin.
South Fork Flambeau River Fifield to County Road F
Length/Landings: 12 miles/5 hours; 3 landings. Movrich Memorial Community Park, N14022 Willow Ave, Fifield. The first half of this paddle has a meandering character - the second half has some challenging whitewater. Check water levels before venturing out. Moderate/Difficult.
Length/Landings: 50 miles in Burnett County (169 Total); Multiple landings. National Park, camping, picnicking, fishing, wildlife. Restrooms at most official landings. Wild river, diverse terrain, mostly forested. Rapids. Historic towns.
Length/Landings: Approx. 20 miles total. Best paddling in higher water. The archetypal Northwoods River. Very little development along the shores. Navigable for nearly all of its length. Walleye fishing can be excellent, and there are some musky present in the river. One of the most important sturgeon spawning area’s in the region. Backwaters have nesting wood ducks and mergansers. A timber wolf pack is in the area.
This area is accessed off of Murray’s Landing south of Mercer. This is a voluntary quiet area for those seeking a wilderness experience. There are many camping opportunities.
Length/Landings: Connects 17 different lakes; Multiple landings. This trail connects 17 different lakes with many put in and take out options. There are several class I and II rapids that sometimes require a portage. The most common access is along County H in Mercer.
Burnett & Washburn Counties
Length/Landings: 50 miles in Burnett, 12 miles in Washburn; Multiple landings. This beautiful river is a narrow river that meanders through farmland, wetland, forest and flows through two lakes.