River Trails of Northern Wisconsin is the third dvd from Morrall River Films. Although it’s a bit of departure in presentation from their first two videos, it provides an invaluable amount of great information and a broad view of seventeen rivers and one creek in 23 day paddles.
There’s nothing quite like seeing the water you’re about to paddle and that’s what makes these video guides so appealing. It’s another must-add to your canoe and kayaking library.
What We Like:
We are big fans of Morrall River Film’s first two video guides, River Trails of Southern Wisconsin and River Trails of Northern Illinois. They are one of the first resources we reach for when planning paddling trips.
Their latest video, River Trails of Northern Wisconsin, is another 2-disc set which splits Wisconsin into two regions, Northwest and Northeast. While practically all the rivers in the film are covered in the book Paddling Northern Wisconsin by Mike Svob to some degree, this video allows you to see what to expect on the water. These guides cover a variety of skill level and do a great job of relaying basic information on put-ins and take-outs, acceptable water levels, hazards, rapids and much more.
While the first two DVDs were broken out by river, this edition presents these trips much differently. Instead of a river or creek for each chapter, these paddles are broken down into nine different chapters by geographic regions or similar physical characteristics.
Some chapters are specific to one river, like “River at Work” which is all about the Chippewa (it covers the East Fork too) or the “River of Presidents” which is all about the Bois Brule. Or in the case of “Wild & Free”, it’s devoted to wild rivers like the Pine, Popple and Brule rivers. “Near North” covers the Black River but also breaks it down into the Upper, Lower and East Fork. It also includes additional footage of Robinson Creek (which was included on River Trails of Southern Wisconsin), an absolutely gorgeous tributary of the Black.
At first watch, each chapter is entertaining as a whole but if you’re trying to reference a specific paddle it’s a little trickier. Since each river is grouped by chapter, you don’t have the (previous) luxury of immediately getting to the paddle you want to see, so you’ll have to scrub through each one. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, it’s just much different than the first two guides.
Another point-of-difference from the previous guides is the hefty amount of history and background relating to the rivers and regions they paddled through. There are a lot of really nice segments related to the people and region of the river. And this is solely a personal opinion, but the cinematography has really been ratcheted up with some very unique and beautiful filming.
The Final Word:
River Trails of Northern Wisconsin is stocked with a ton of great paddling information about some of the finest places to paddle in Northern Wisconsin. It’s another wonderful resource for discovering Wisconsin rivers to explore, as well as a general history lesson of each.
Paired with the River Trails of Southern Wisconsin DVD and the Paddling Southern and Northern Wisconsin books by Mike Svob, your wishlist of places to canoe or kayak in the Dairy State will be stocked.
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Director: Mark Morrall
Producer: Morrall River Films
Run Time: 105 minutes