Canoe & Kayak Camping

Canoe & Kayak Camping Wisconsin: Chippewa Flowage

Chippewa FlowageIf you’re looking for an uncrowded paddle-camping opportunity, the Chippewa Flowage is an ideal option for remote island-camping set in the scenic northwoods of Wisconsin.

The flowage, or “Big Chip” as it’s known, is a 15,300-acre impoundment located east of Hayward which was created as a means for flood control and generating power. As Wisconsin’s third-largest lake, the flowage is flatwater paddling of course, but with a maze of 200 islands, there’s a lot to explore. The feeling of true wilderness is around every channel or boggy turn, with very little of the shoreline having been developed. Set beneath rolling hills and that special mix of northern hardwoods, birch and pine, it’s simply captivating. Also, located this far north, a local doesn’t have to tell you that the fishing is prime here – musky being the main trophy.

Paddling Style:
Flatwater Paddling + River Paddling
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate/Expert
Best Suited For: Canoes + Kayaks

Camping Location: Lakeside
Availability: First-Come, First-Served Designated Sites
Type: Rustic
Paddle-in: Yes | Walk-in: Yes
Camping Fee: Yes + No | Camping Permit: No

The important thing to know about the flowage is that these are shared lands – the camping opportunities and the boat landings. The Wisconsin DNR manages eleven of the 18 campsites with one of them under U.S. Forest Service ownership. They are all available for free on a first-come, first-served basis with one exception – Cedar Tops West – which is reservable for those with disabilities by contacting the Hayward DNR Office. If it’s not occupied, it can be used first come, first served. The other seven sites, situated on six different islands, are Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) tribal-owned lands. Camping on these islands require a fee and are available by reservation.

All of these sites are remote, so share your plan with others and be prepared to practice pack-in, pack-out, Leave-No-Trace ethics. From time to time, campsites may close or be relocated to protect wildlife habitat or natural vegetation.

There are also six boat landings with varying degrees of facilities but are open to the public. Four are owned by the Wisconsin DNR, one by the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe and one by the Town of Hayward.

Island Campground – No Fees: Wisconsin DNR and USFS Sites | First Come, First Served
11 Sites. 1 Site, Cedar Tops West, is reservable by phone for those with disabilities.
Facilities: Open-air latrine, picnic table and fire ring.

Island Camping – With Fees: LCO Sites | Call to Reserve a Site
6 Sites. All reservable.
Facilities: Open-air latrine, picnic table and fire ring.

Paddling the Chippewa Flowage:
The flowage is huge so even when there is heavy powerboat traffic it rarely feels crowded or too busy, even in the peak of summer (though it does affect the natural ambiance, so silent sport enthusiasts may be less than enthused). From the numerous islands and points to the bays, bogs and channels, there’s much to discover along the tree-lined banks. Wildlife is common as deer, otter, bald eagles, osprey, loon, blue heron, mergansers and sometimes the occasional black bear or wolf inhabit the area. If you fish, bring a pole, because aside from musky, the flowage is stocked with walleye, northern pike, bass, crappie and panfish.

Essential Information:
General Info: Wisconsin DNR
General Camping Info: Wisconsin DNR
General Paddling Info: Wisconsin DNR

Maps + Guides:
Chippewa Flowage Brochure
Chippewa Flowage Map

Photo Gallery:

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply