Blynn Road to Arena:
This final few hundred yards of Black Earth Creek, before it meets Blue Mounds Creek and its eventual confluence with the Wisconsin River is a trip unto it’s own, sharing no characteristics with the upstream sections of Black Earth Creek. It’s muddy, obstructed and will test the patience of the casual paddler.
Rating: ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: May 31, 2014
Skill Level: Beginner
Class Difficulty: Flatwater
Gauge Recorded on this Trip:
Black Earth: ht/ft: 1.76 | cfs: 37
Black Earth: ht/ft: 2.15 | cfs: 35.5
This were low levels. We recommend a minimum of 60 cfs for comfortable paddling.
Time: Put in at 11:10a. Out at 1:50p.
Total Time: 2h 40m
Miles Paddled: 6.25
Two deer, one turtle and a million mosquitoes.
On my previous trip down Black Earth Creek, I was disappointed that I had to cut it short and not finish my journey to the Wisconsin River. Turns out, it was the perfect way to end that trip and start this one anew because they are completely different trips and completely different creeks.
This really is a Blue Mound Creek paddle vs Black Earth Creek because in reality, you’re only on BEC for a half-mile or so before Blue Mounds Creek enters river-left and almost immediately, you know you’re on a different stretch of water. And it stays that way the rest of the paddle until the confluence with the Wisconsin River.
The trip can be broken down into three distinct environments and water qualities. The first half-mile is very much Black Earth Creek conditions with clear water and a sandy bottom (although it was a little cloudy due to recent high water). The second and majority of the paddle is on Blue Mound Creek which is cloudy, muddy and swampy all the way to the last section, where it empties into the copper-colored and sandy shallows of the Wisconsin River (also, the only highlight of the trip) .
The put-in off Blynn Road isn’t ideal but it’s manageable. I was prepared for it since I had taken out there on my previous trip but it’s not developed. Do be sure to check for ticks after wading through waist-high weeds down to the water.
This swampy creek is really twisty and has a pushy current which explains the numerous encounters with clogs and fallen logs. This is definitely a creek for creek lovers because the casual paddling fan will find it frustrating.
The gauge is practically obsolete for this last route (and I contend that this gauge reading would be too low for the more traditional Black Earth Creek sections). It’s located too far upstream and wasn’t telling of the deeper waters of Blue Mound Creek. There were no shallows to speak of and in most areas, as evidenced by Brian, (who chose to portage more frequently) it was waist-deep but I’m sure it got even deeper elsewhere judging by the eerie, swirling pools around tight corners.
Despite the wild and undeveloped nature heading towards the big river, wildlife was at a premium. We did encounter a couple deer but beyond that, it was a lot of mosquito-swatting.
The take-out in Arena is fantastic. You do have to paddle Southwest past the take-out and then back into the bay due to a giant sandbar that precludes a straightshot. But as is the case with most Lower Wisconsin put-ins/take-outs, they are easily accessible and offer plenty of parking and usually with some sort of facility.
What we liked:
The absolute and only real highlight of this trip was finally ending the creek section and making our way into the Wisconsin River. The water turned from muddy brown to that beautiful copper/root beer color of the Lower Wisconsin. Changing right before the bows of our kayaks, it was a welcome sight after a drag of a paddle.
It reminded us of our love of the Wisco and had us questioning why we weren’t out camping on this particular weekend. Truth be told, the only reason this trip doesn’t get a 1-star rating is because of this beautiful ending. We had to stop and spend a half-hour on the sandbar immediately before us because it was so incredibly nice out (which also explains the longer trip time).
What we didn’t like:
Portages. They’re everywhere and plentiful and if you don’t have patience for that kind of thing, you’ll find no enjoyment in this section. In fact, Brian spent most of the trip with his legs out on each side of his boat just prepared for the next obstacle (we did some concepting on what to call that maneuver – ideas included: saddling and pony-riding).
There are two portages, that with even the greatest amount of ramming or ducking, just aren’t passible without getting out into the muddy brown – which is some of the nastiest mud you’ll encounter. It’s the kind of mud that sticks to crevices on your feet you didn’t know existed and that you’ll be cleaning out for the rest of the week. And it smells ungodly. I often liken this kind of mud to what Andy Dufresne encountered on his escape from Shawshank.
If we did this trip again:
Brian made me promise I’d simply write “We won’t”.
Black Earth Creek Overview: Black Earth Creek Paddle Guide
Black Earth Creek I: Walking Iron Park to Blynn Road
Black Earth Creek III: Cross Plains to Black Earth
Black Earth Creek IV: Black Earth to Hudson Road
Map: Black Hawk Trail
Miles Paddled Video: