14 Best Paddles of 2014

14 Best Paddle of 2014We covered a lot of creeks and rivers in 2014. With over 50 trips surpassing 450 miles, we had a hard time choosing our favorites for this year’s “Best of” report. That said, in no particular order, here are 14 of our favorite canoe and kayak paddles from 2014.

1: Halls Creek

Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
June 28, 2014

Halls is a creek for creek lovers and it’s exactly the kind of destination that keeps us searching for the next great paddle.

It’s exciting but not overly-complicated. With near constant riffles and Class Is, a few exhilarating (but manageable) drops, natural springs that trickle down the banks into beautifully cut sandbars and pools and endless, sometimes jaw-dropping, rock formations in a canyon-like setting, it has everything you’d ever want but are unlikely to expect from a creek. It’s a thing of beauty.

Read more…

Halls Creek. . . . .

2: Yellow River (Taylor)

Miller Dam to County Road H
Taylor County, Wisconsin
August 31, 2014

An absolutely wonderful trip that begins in a beautiful and secluded section of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, below its namesake flowage, with nothing but miles of undeveloped scenery and forests that lead to a thrilling eight-mile section of unending riffles and Class I-II rapids with boulders and exposed rock outcroppings from the halfway point all the way down to the take-out. This trip should be on anybody’s to-do list!

Read more…

Highway 35 to Perrot State Park
Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
September 27, 2014

An easy trip surrounded by a national wildlife refuge that finishes with one of the absolute prettiest backdrops of Mississippi River bluffs. Set one after the other in such dramatic fashion, it’s easy to forget that this is still the upper Midwest and not New England or the Adirondacks of New York.

Read more…

Touring the Sea Caves of the National Lakeshore in Bayfield County
Cornucopia, Wisconsin
August 15, 2014

Very likely the most beautiful sea kayaking experience anywhere in the state of Wisconsin, the National Lakeshore girding the northern tip of the Bayfield Peninsula is blessed with sandstone caves, cliffs, rock shelves and arches, all set against a huge blue sky and an inland sea of jade green water for miles on end and as far as the eye can take.

Read more…

Lake Superior Sea Caves. . . . .

5: Big Rib River

Goodrich to County Road A
Goodrich, Wisconsin
May 10, 2014

Beginning with a bang and ending on a whimper, this section of the Big Rib River offers an exhilarating trip fit for experienced paddlers featuring a spectacular Dells section with challenging whitewater, root beer-hued water, undeveloped privacy and outstanding wildlife.

Read more…

Bolton Road to Krape Park
Freeport, Illinois
April 19, 2014

A very satisfying creek with clear water, good flow, pretty hillsides, ridges, a number of quite attractive rock outcrops and an absolutely fascinating public park at the end complete with Art Deco bridges, matching bandshell, a 40’-high (artificial) waterfall and a colorful carousel.

Read more…

Wausau, Wisconsin
July 13, 2014

The premier whitewater park in Wisconsin, (and one of the finest, if not the best, in the Midwest) this place is an absolute pleasure chock full of paddling camaraderie.

Read more…

Maple Ridge Road to Highway 112
Mason, Wisconsin
August 16, 2014

A swift moving and narrow stream in northern Wisconsin whose energy is as relentless as its surrounding beauty of tall clay banks, light rapids, utter solitude from the human world but chance companionship with the natural one.

Read more…

East Canyon Road to South Apple River Road
Apple River Canyon State Park
April 20, 2014

Quite possibly the most beautiful stretch of river in all of Illinois (and definitely one of the best in the entire Midwest) the Apple River is rich with clear water, (or jade green in the deeper pools) constant riffles, light rapids, gorgeous rock walls, a veritable canyon and little to no development.

It does, however, have landowner issues that must be recognized and respected. Added to that is a steep gradient that drains its water volume quickly, so catching the upper Apple River at the right time is tricky. But it’s oh so worth it!

Read more…

Highway X16 to Old Sixteen Road
Monona, Iowa
May 5, 2014

A quintessential Driftless river blessed with everything you could hope for: swift, clear, riffly water, gorgeous rock outcrops, rolling hills and superb wildlife.

Read more…

Old Sixteen Road to Highway 76
Monona, Iowa
May 6, 2014

A quintessential Driftless river blessed with swift, riffly water, gorgeous rock outcrops, rolling hills and superb wildlife, that begins in a private campground with RVs and ends at the Mississippi River past Effigy Mounds National Monument.

Read more…

Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road
Mt. Carrol, Illinois
June 21, 2014

In terms of the most mind-blowing bang for your paddling buck, this is probably the best creek I’ve ever been on, anywhere. Seriously. Constant riffles, a fun Class II ledge in the beginning, jaw-dropping geology, caves, cliffs and bluffs and almost no development. All condensed in six spectacular miles, Carroll Creek may well be the single prettiest and most fun stream in all of Illinois.

However, the creek is fickle and difficult to catch at the right time. Compounding that, there is no gauge, so it’s a gamble whether you will be able to paddle it at all, especially if you are traveling from afar. Then again, if such a beautiful stream were without drama, chances are it wouldn’t be in Illinois in the first place…

Read more…

Carroll Creek

. . . . .

13: Jump River

Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park
Price County, Wisconsin
August 30, 2014

A robust and haunting river on the cusp of the Chequamegon National Forest that features two sets of rapids in short order and riverbanks mostly undeveloped, this trip on the Jump is an absolute gem.

Read more…

Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road
Chimney Rock Park, Iowa
May 24, 2014

Add one part swift water to umpteen parts spectacular limestone cliffs, rock walls, undulating bluffs and a generous heaping of pretty wrought iron bridges, mixed with a couple cups of springs and you have the making of a glorious paddling trip.

Read more…

Upper Iowa River

Related Reading:
Milespaddled.com’s 13 Best Paddles of 2013
Milespaddled.com’s 15 Best Paddles of 2015
Milespaddled.com’s 16 Best Paddles of 2016
Milespaddled.com’s 17 Best Paddles of 2017
Milespaddled.com’s 10 Best Paddles of 2018
Milespaddled.com’s 19 Best Paddles of 2019
Milespaddled.com’s 20 Best Paddles of 2020

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply