Krouskop Park to Twin Bluffs Road:
An extremely pleasant stretch that begins with a very fun splashy drop followed by shady sandbars and islands, good flow and lots of lovely rolling hills the whole way through.
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: May 12, 2013
Skill Level: Intermediate
Class Difficulty: Flatwater + One Class I-II Drop
Gauge note: There is no gauge on the Pine River but water levels are usually quite adequate. Call the local outfitter to find out for sure.
Water levels are almost always reliable.
Time: Put in at 12:30p. Out at 5:00p.
Total Time: 4h 30m
Miles Paddled: 10.75
Wildlife: Sandhill cranes, a blue heron, wood ducks, a beaver (or woodchuck – I couldn’t quite tell), deer, turkey vultures, yellow orioles, a goose nest with eggs and lots of pretty cows.
Depending on your druthers, you have two main options here. Take the Pine River Trail the whole way (literally from the take-out to the put-in for 7.2 miles) or a more rural road route for 8.7 miles (see map above). Both are great bike shuttle trips.
Apparently this is the year of paddling the Pine. For such a small river, this trip is markedly different than the upstream stretch. There are no exposed rock outcroppings in this section but there are considerably fewer logjams (only two here, one of which required a portage).
The river is also wider here and less tree-canopied. Bring your sun block but also your camera as the rolling hillside is just lovely. There is more traffic din here since the river hugs Highway 14 but you won’t likely see a single car after the bridges in downtown Richland Center. The further downstream you go, the more remote the environs become. The land does become flatter though.
What we liked:
Krouskop Park has everything you can want from a put-in. There is plenty of parking, garbage and recycling, bathrooms and an excellent, developed boat landing. The Boy Scouts built a series of remarkable landings at half a dozen locations along the river, beginning with the bridge at County Road AA (aka Bowens Mill) down to Bonham Drive (at the intersection of County Road OO).
No more than a mile after the put-in there is a very fun and totally safe Class I-II drop just upstream of the Seminary Street bridge and Richland Community Center. It’s easy to run but does offer that swelling thrill of adrenaline that keeps everything interesting. It can, however, easily be portaged or you can simply skip this section and put in nearby downstream.
Also during the Richland Center section there is a gorgeous stretch that feels “wild” (the banks are steep enough that you never really see any buildings) with little islands, old stonewalls, lush and leafy greenery. But most of this stretch is open, soaking up the sun and taking in the soft rolling hills.
As an added bonus, the Pine River Trail stretches alongside the whole way, which makes a fun, safe and flat bike shuttle.
What we didn’t like:
Not much frankly. Yes, Highway 14 is always within earshot, which makes the remoteness of the trip a bit compromised but you will rarely see any cars (and only then from a distance). If (almost) 11 miles is too much for one daytrip, there are plenty of options to shorten this trip without missing any of the landscape sights.
There were two areas of deadfall. The first (fairly early-on in the trip) requires a portage over a tree or two. But on the second (much later), I was able to ramrod and scrape my way over with some extra scoots in my 9-foot boat, while my friend in his 14-footer had to portage.
Towards the end of the trip the flow of the river slackens and the hillside starts to flatten as the Pine courses through farmland predominantly. It’s still pretty, but less dramatic. Downstream of aptly named Twin Bluffs Road, the landscape becomes hillier and quite lovely as the Pine meanders to its confluence with the Wisconsin River.
If we did this trip again:
I could see this happening but the only thing I’d do differently is either put in further upstream to cover all my Pine River bases or take out at Sawmill Road.