★ ★ ★ ★

Badfish Creek II

Old Stone Road to Casey Road:
The Badfish is a treasure to have near Madison. Higher water levels added to the excitement this time around but would certainly test beginners and therefore, not recommended.

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: May 30, 2011

Skill Level: Intermediate
Class Difficulty: Riffles (Class I)

Gauge Recorded on this Trip:
Cooksville: ht/ft: 4.97 | cfs: 129

Current Levels:
Cooksville: ht/ft: 5.01 | cfs: 91.2

Recommended Levels:
This is a very recommendable level.

Old Stone Road, Badfish Creek Wildlife Area, Cooksville, Wisconsin
GPS: 42.87993, -89.27627
Casey Road
GPS: 42.83354, -89.19133

Time: Put in at 11:00a. Out at 2:45p.
Total Time: 3h 45m
Miles Paddled: 9.25

What we liked:

We paddled our favorite part of the Badfish yesterday including an extra 2.5 miles upriver of our regular put-in. It was a nice little section that flows through Badfish Creek Wildlife Area but after 4 portages (tree-climbing style) it confirmed that the best section on the Badfish is Old Stage road to North Casey road.

The creek was lower than the last time we paddled but it was still moving swift with plenty of riffles and fun little sections. The major portage from last year has been cleared, so it’s free flowing from Old Stage to Casey.

The same can’t be said for the Old Stone to Old Stage section. The put-in on Old Stone road was nice with ample parking and easy access to the water. Much of the 2.5 miles is straight-forward paddling with few of the twists & turns, little islands and riffles that the Badfish is known for (it is quite pretty though). Not soon after getting into the water you’ll encounter your first of four portages. All have to conquered by climbing over tree limbs since the banks are not easily accessible.

Once you hit the Old Stage bridge, it’s easy paddling. The run below the old iron bridge on Leedle Mill Road is still exhilarating and the highlight of this paddle. We met some nice people who heard that the bridge will be removed this year. We don’t know the reason (it could just be the slow decay of the bridge) but we’ll miss it because it’s such a cool landmark that adds to the beauty of the Badfish.

With highs in the low 90s getting out any water would have been a treat but to be on the Badfish made it a much more excellent Memorial Day.

What we didn’t like:
A water snake seems to have taken residence at the take-out on North Casey road. We spotted him at the take-out while we were dropping off vehicles. We believe this is the same one that we came across last year except he’s put on a few pounds (We also spotted him while we were actually taking out. He politely moved across the creek to give us some room).

Also, the 2.5 miles section through the Badfish Creek Wildlife Area is nice but it isn’t a must-paddle section. And if you don’t like climbing fallen trees (or just simply can’t) you should avoid that section.

If we did this trip again:
We can now say that Old Stage Road to Casey Road is the recommended paddle on the Badfish. It’s best to do it in spring when the water is a little higher and the weeds are still down. We’re truly lucky to have this gem of a creek in our backyard.

Related Information:
Badfish Creek Overview: Badfish Creek Paddle Guide
Badfish Creek I: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek III: Sunrise Road to Old Stone Road
Badfish Creek IV: County Road B to Sunrise Road
Good People: Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed

Photo Gallery:

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  • Reply
    June 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Hi, thanks so much for the information!

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    June 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    No problem, glad we could help!

  • Reply
    Dan S.
    July 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I just paddled the Badfish for the first time on Saturday. What a great creek. Your descriptions were perfect, right down to that damn snake at the take-out. The only downfall was that we put in to late so it was a bit shallow in places. Next time it will be an earlier trip. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    July 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it! It really is a great paddle isn't it? That snake is quite territorial. I hope he was courteous enough to move out of the way for you. We definitely recommend paddling this in the spring when the water is a little higher.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Wish you would've gotten a picture of the snake.

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    January 28, 2013 at 3:32 am

    The snake was photographed skimming across the water. Beautifully repulsive.

  • Reply
    Andy Richardson
    October 5, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Any insight on how the Badfish will be on Sunday after this ran? I was thinking Old Stone to Casey.

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Looks like conditions should be similar to this post which are a little lower than normal but still navigable. The water is about the same barring any major rain today/tonight. I can't speak to the conditions as far as downed trees or portages because I haven't paddled it in awhile but at this time of year, things should be pretty clear. Hope you have a great paddle!

  • Reply
    Andy Richardson
    October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    10/6/2013, river open from Old Stage Road to Highway 59 @ Yahara River. No portages. Take out @ 59/Yahara is challenging due to steep river banks.

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