2016 saw many changes for Milespaddled.com, starting with the appearance of the site itself. Behind the scenes, we had been busy working up a new site, while at the same time reporting on 42 trips that covered over 400 miles of rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin, Illnois and Minnesota. To top it all off, we finally saw the release of Timothy’s Book, “Canoeing and Kayaking South Central Wisconsin”.
Before we head into an exciting 2017, here’s a look back at 16 of our favorite paddles from 2016 in our annual year-end review. As always, these are in no particular order.
1: Bois Brule River
Stone’s Bridge Landing to Bois Brule Landing
September 2, 2016
A premier paddling destination located in northern Wisconsin, the Bois Brule is a diverse river offering something for paddlers of every skill level. From flat water to lakes, riffles to exciting whitewater, all set in an idyllic northern Wisconsin backdrop, it’s a remarkable paddle that culminates on the sandy shores of Lake Superior. Add in that this historic 44 miles is protected and pristine, it’s no wonder that it’s a must-visit destination for midwest paddlers.
2: Boundary Waters: Kawishiwi River (Minnesota)
Kawishiwi Lake to Lake One
July 2-8, 2016
A quintessential canoe country trip that any paddler or outdoors lover should experience at some time in her life, the Boundary Waters is a special place that offers many rewards – an unspoiled landscape, wilderness camping, solitude, lots of loons – but it also comes with a couple caveats and considerations.
3: Grant River
Short Cut Road to County Road U
April 23, 2016
You could say that prior to hundreds of miles between our first visit to this river and now, we indeed, took it for granted (pun, sheepishly intended). With regards to Wisconsin driftless paddles, this is as captivating as they come, with endlessly engaging twists, turns, rock formations and riffles. Best yet, it sets the stage for an amazing stretch to follow.
4: Covel Creek (Illinois)
East 18th Road to Highway 71
June 18, 2016
A trip as breathtaking for its continuous rapids as for its stunning scenery, Covel Creek is simply, paddling bliss. Even if it’s out of the way (from Madison) and offers less than ideal access at the bridges, this is one of our favorite trips of all time. The only caveat is catching it with enough water to paddle.
5: Billings Creek
County Road F to Landing 10
August 13, 2016
This may be the best little Wisconsin driftless creek nobody’s ever heard of (well, save for a couple). It’s scenic, intimate, swift and envokes a sense of discovery because, save for the occasional trout fisherman, it’s rarely paddled. In short, it’s a condensed version of the Kickapoo 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.
6: Eau Claire River (Eau Claire County)
Lake Altoona Dam to Hobbs Landing
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
May 28, 2016
A surprisingly scenic stretch with great wildlife and geology surrounded by an urban environment, catch the Eau Claire at a high water level and awesome 2’-tall standing waves form for what may well be the most perfect after-work (or happy hour) paddle of all time.
7: Bois Brule River
Copper Range Landing to Highway 13
September 3, 2016
This was not only our favorite segment of the Brule, or even of 2016, but it might possibly be our favorite paddle of all time. Copper Range Landing to Highway 13 is a non-stop ride on a bed of incessent riffles, Class I and II rapids with about a dozen ledges and drops. Set in northern Wisconsin wilderness on the pristine waters of the Bois Brule, this is a bucket-list paddle.
8: Coon Fork Creek
County Road CF to County Road G
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
May 30, 2016
Two outstanding streams in one trip, beginning with an exhilarating series of Class I-II rapids in a narrow mini-gorge that is true creek paddling at its finest, and then finishing in the broad sun-and-sand fun that is a slower, lazier float on a bigger river (one still with occasional sets of rapids not to be taken for granted).
9: Platte River
County Road A to Platte Road
March 27, 2016
A glorious trip with nonstop riffles and rapids, spectacular cliffs, bluffs, rock outcrops, lush pastures and no obstructions, this hitherto unknown section of the Platte is worth the minor inconvenience of the put-in and take-out. Just be sure the river is high enough before you trek out this way.
10: Root River South Branch (Minnesota)
Highway 5 to Preston Trailhead Park
September 20, 2016
A truly beautiful daytrip whose incredible attributes outweigh its detractions, (nonstop riffles and light rapids in trout stream-clear water past stunning bluffs with exposed rock outcrops vs. many portages around downed trees and ducking under barbed wires) this section of Minnesota’s awesome South Branch of the Root River is more for the adventurous type than the casual paddler.
11: White River (Walworth County)
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons
March 12, 2016
A delightful jaunt on a very pretty river with two distinct temperaments – placid and slow, frisky and fun – surrounded by a predominantly unspoiled landscape. The only deterrents are this trip often is too shallow to paddle (at least the rapids section) and the drive seems to take forever (unless you’re already in the area). But this stretch of the White is definitely worth the while!
12: Big Bureau Creek (Illinois)
Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150
June 17, 2016
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.
13: Little Wolf River
Ness Road to Big Falls
Big Falls, Wisconsin
August 6, 2016
A return trip to one of our favorite paddles, this time with a twist – adding a previously unknown segment to the popular route – the upper Little Wolf River simply is a must for any whitewater-curious paddler, as it offers miles of riffles and Class I-II rapids in an almost entirely undeveloped corridor.
14: Black River
Melrose to North Bend
November 4, 2016
One of the best sections anywhere on the lower Black River, this trip features miles of lush sandy beaches (perfect for picnics or overnight campouts), a sense of sheer wilderness and being away from it all, stunningly tall sand bluffs, three exposed rock outcrop walls, one side canyon, and one waterfall for the intrepid paddler to explore.
15: Bois Brule River
Highway 13 to Lake Superior
September 4, 2016
The last section of the Bois Brule is beautiful and lively, much like previous segments, but what makes this paddle extra special is what lies at the end of the river – the Lake Superior delta.
16: Grant River
County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road
April 24, 2016
A revisit to the Grant River, this trip was a perfect example of how perspective shifts as time goes by, for what had initially felt somewhat anticlimactic years ago today felt like an out-of-the-park home run and one of the most scenic paddling experiences ever.
Milespaddled.com’s 13 Best Paddles of 2013
Milespaddled.com’s 14 Best Paddles of 2014
Milespaddled.com’s 15 Best Paddles of 2015
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