10 Favorite Creek Trips

10 Favorite Creek TripsMiles Paddled 10 Year LogoIn ten years, we’ve written about a whole lot of rivers and creeks, (304 as of this writing, to be specific) so you’d think we’d have a hard time narrowing our favorite creek trips to only ten. Truth be told, it was actually easier than anticipated because there are so many stand-out options. What’s not a surprise though, is that four of them reside in the same geographic location near and dear to our heart, Black River Falls.

Now, to be clear, there is no technical difference between a river and a creek. Meaning, there is no governing body or law that determines whether a stream is called or “creek” or a “river” based on width or flow or adorableness or whatever. Yet, most people think creeks are smaller and/or narrower, and in some cases that’s true, but not always. However, for this list, we will distinguish them by name, providing you with ten excellent stretches of creek paddling (in no particular order) from the last ten years (rest assured, chances are pretty good that you’ll see a “rivers” list too).

Badfish Creek

01: Badfish Creek – Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Cooksville, Wisconsin
The first creek we truly fell for was Badfish, and there’s probably not a creek or river that we paddle more often. In part, because it’s so close to Madison and it offers several put-in and take-out options to tailor the length and variety of the trip experience. But mainly because it’s so pretty, reliable and fun. This specific section is the best of the Badfish, and quite possibly the best paddle in southern Wisconsin.


Robinson Creek02: Robinson Creek – Old County Road I to Kelly Road
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
One of the prettiest, most intimate streams we’ve been lucky enough to paddle, Robinson is a dazzling palette of colors – copper, cream, and green – hidden in the hollows and lush pine trees near the Black River State Forest. Defined by sandstone rock outcrops and lined by a sandy bottom, Robinson is filled to the beguiling brim with frisky riffles and continuous runs of cushy rapids. Gorgeous and engaging, Robinson Creek is simply one of the best paddling adventures in Wisconsin.


Covel Creek03: Covel Creek – East 18th Road to Highway 71
Stoneyville, Illinois
A trip as breathtaking for its continuous rapids as for its stunning scenery, Covel Creek is paddling bliss. Even if it’s out of the way (from Madison) and offers less than ideal access at the bridges. The only caveat is catching it with enough water to paddle.


Big Bureau Creek04: Big Bureau Creek – Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150
Princeton, Illinois
Here’s an example of a creek by name but a river at heart. After years of waiting for the right levels, we finally got a taste of Big Bureau Creek. Wider than expected, this run was riffly, swift and altogether interesting. It was a bucket list paddle that did not disappoint.


Morrison Creek05: Morrison Creek – Cemetery Road to Morrison Landing
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
On clear water in a near-wilderness environment with zero development, an endless array of light rapids as well as one challenging Class II+ pitch, approximately one gazillion boulders, stunning rock walls with weeping seeps and then a 180° turnabout to a bottomlands finish, Morrison Creek is a paddler’s delight.


Wedges Creek06: Wedges Creek – Middle Road to Riviera Avenue
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Wedges is yet another Black River Falls creek that you’ll want to add to your bucket list. This brief 4.25-mile run makes for a great half-day adventure or add another few miles of Black River paddling for the additional payoff of outstanding whitewater, beautiful boulder gardens and rock outcrops.


Turtle Creek07: Turtle Creek – School Section Road to O’Riley Road
Clinton, Wisconsin
A truly outstanding trip that will win the hearts of newbies and seasoned paddlers alike due to the surrounding scenery, river environment itself, and numerous access points to shorten or lengthen the time on the water. After experiencing this section of the beloved Turtle Creek, you’ll be coming back for more.


Billings Creek08: Billings Creek – County Road F to Landing 10
Rockton, Wisconsin
Is this the best little Wisconsin driftless creek nobody’s ever heard of? It’s scenic, intimate, swift and envokes a sense of discovery because, save for the occasional trout fisherman, it’s rarely visited. In short, it’s a condensed version of the Kickapoo River with a dense abundance of unique and breathtaking sandstone bluffs in an all too short 2.25 miles. But despite the length, Billings is a special paddle, sure to put a smile on the face of creek lovers.


Carroll Creek09: Carroll Creek – Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road
Mt. Carroll, Illinois
Take the stunning cliffs and curves of the Kickapoo River, the clear water and swiftness of Badfish Creek, the length, riffles and intimacy of Robinson Creek and you’ve got this extremely wonderful stream, Carroll Creek.


Halls Creek10: Halls Creek – Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing
Merrillan, Wisconsin
Halls Creek is one of many excellent paddling destinations in the Black River Falls area. With countless riffles, a few Class I ledges and numerous stunning rock formations that decorate the twists and turns through an often intimate and sometimes canyon-like setting, Halls is another bucket-list paddle.

Honorable Mentions:

Despite trying to keep this at ten, there were a couple that just simply didn’t make the cut due to the creek pedigree they were up against. But if you’re looking for something near Madison, it’s hard not to love this section of Black Earth Creek, and the same could be said for this section of Piscasaw Creek which is just a short jaunt across our southern border.

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