★ ★ ★

Sugar River IV

County Road X to County Road EE:
This section of the Sugar is the kind of water you paddle more for escape, than for excitement or unique features. It’s a pretty, clean and accessible stream that flows through a secluded environment, which is all most people look for in a paddle.

Sugar RiverRating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: August 11, 2013

Class Difficulty:

Verona: ht/ft: 3.26 | cfs: 72
Brodhead: ht/ft: 1.41 | cfs: 396

Recommended Levels:
We recommended this level. Please note that anything below 50 cfs will be extremely shallow and frustrating. We recommend a minimum of 60 cfs on the Verona gauge.

County Road X, South of Belleville, Wisconsin
County Road EE, North of Albany, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 11:15a. Out at 2:05p.
Total Time: 2h 50m
Miles Paddled: 11.5

Fish, turtles and a heron.

What we liked:

This trip, like the upper stretch directly before it, is an easy-going paddle. There are a lots of curves and deadfall to negotiate but nothing overly difficult or that had us portaging, save for the occasional scoot over a log.

Brian and I agreed to disagree on whether this was a beginner’s trip or not. He thought it might be too technical with its windy nature and the abundant deadfall that sometimes requires quick maneuvering. I don’t totally disagree but skilled or not, water levels like these (and lower) seem manageable as long as someone on your trip has experience reading the current to reduce potential frustration. Even in the absolute worst case scenario, where you’d have to bail, it never seemed too deep (emphasis on seemed).

While the water level was a little higher and the flow a little faster versus last year, the description of that previous trip is pretty accurate as far as what you’ll experience. It’s a generally wide river, with clear but muddy-tinged water and sparse sandbars in a forested environment.

The put-ins and take-outs are great (actually, all the landings between Belleville and Albany make for easy access). There are no facilities at either of these but they both offer enough parking and are manicured perfectly for canoe and kayak access.

This was a pleasant paddle with very little excitement of any kind. Even the wildlife was quiet. We spotted some fish, turtles, birds and a heron whom we literally scared the crap out of, something that Timothy experienced recently and poetically described…

We decided not to continue down to Albany which would have extended the trip an additional 2.25 miles for a couple of reasons. First, we were keeping an eye on an approaching thunderstorm. Second, for a day trip, this is plenty long. Lastly, south of County EE, you’ll encounter a slower current, the upper marshy areas of Albany Lake and then of course, the flat water of Albany Lake. And I’ll do anything to avoid lake/marsh paddling.

What we didn’t like:
I guaranteed we’d see a deer within the first mile but that just didn’t pan out.

If we did this trip again:
We probably enjoyed the Belleville to County X a little more than this section and I’m not completely sure why. They’re both so similar in features (or lack thereof) and aesthetics so we’re probably splitting hairs but it was a nice day to be out on the water (and we didn’t get struck by lightning).

Related Information:
Sugar River Overview: Sugar River Paddle Guide
Sugar River I: Belleville to County Road X
Sugar River VI: Albany to Brodhead
Sugar River XI: Attica to Albany
Good People: Upper Sugar River Watershed Association
Good People: Lower Sugar River Watershed Association
Map: Upper Sugar River Trail
Wikipedia: Sugar River

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:

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