★ ★ ★ ★

Waupaca River II

Buchholz Road to County Highway Q:
A long section with a generous mix of good and bad – the pluses being swift current, clear water, giant boulder gardens, attractive tall banks and great accesses; the minuses being notoriously shallow conditions and numerous obstructions (submerged rocks, strung wires and a whole lot of downed trees) – this stretch of the Waupaca River should neither be underestimated nor taken for granted… nor ignored, as it can be a truly rewarding time for an experienced paddler.

Waupaca River

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: October 10, 2017

Skill Level: Intermediate
Class Difficulty: Class I

≈10′ per mile

Gauge Recorded on this Trip:
Waupaca: ht/ft: 2.15 | cfs: 370

Current Levels:
Waupaca: Gauge discontinued in June of 2020.

Recommended Levels:
This strongly recommendable this level.

Buchholz Road
GPS: 44.42111, -89.25124
County Highway Q, Waupaca, Wisconsin
GPS: 44.37428, -89.18549

Time: Put in at 2:20p. Out at 7:25p.
Total Time: 5h 5m (An hour of which was spent rescuing a boat and gear and changing into dry clothes after dumping, not to mention paddling the last 45 minutes in the pitch dark).
Miles Paddled: 12.75

Alternate Trip Ideas:
County Highway DD to County Highway Q (7 Miles)

A great blue heron (cameo appearance a la Central Waters Brewing just down the road), a ton of wood ducks and deer.

Shuttle Information:
5.1 miles for cars along Highway 10. 6 miles for bicycles along county roads, with only half a mile along Highway 10.


I’d like to think that I (Timothy) learn from past mistakes, but that may well be wishful thinking. Instead, I’d like to think that others learn from my mistakes, via our blog, since I seem incapable of self-correction.

Case in point: Here I was back on the Waupaca River, where almost to the day two years before, I had a terrible time on the water, culminating in my kayak actually being stolen at the take-out bridge. (Mercifully, the Portage County Sheriff’s Department found my boat the following day, after I’d reported it missing.) Back then, it was a miserably chilly autumn day with a high of 50 degrees, cloudy, drizzly and windy as hell. Wet while paddling, shivering into dry clothes at the take-out, bike-shuttling in the dark.

And so it was again, now in 2017, pretty much the same conditions – a cloudy, drizzly, windy day no warmer than 50 degrees, shivering like a fool, biking back to the car in the dark. (Indeed, when we got back to the car at the put-in, the temperature was a balmy 47 degrees.) And while I did select better spots at which to put-in and take-out, uncannily (and unintentionally, I swear!) this trip ended up being about thirteen miles long, exactly as long as October 2015 trip took, which is way too long a trip to begin in mid-October in the mid-afternoon. Who needs Halloween when you can spook the hell out of yourself by paddling a meandering river with good current and a ton of downed trees in the pitch dark? Especially after you’ve already had an accident on the river only an hour or so earlier?

Fool me once, Waupaca. But twice?!? Damn!

There’s a back-story to the back-story of this trip I won’t bore you with (and indeed, if the following is found to be too boring, feel free to skip to the Overview). Suffice it to say my girlfriend and I were up in Amherst this weekend regardless of the crappy weather and far-from-perfect conditions. While breaking fast at the Crystal Café in nearby Iola – which I highly recommend, their pies especially (it’s not for naught that their motto is “Pies 2 Die 4”) – we weighed the pros and cons of paddling four different rivers: the Eau Claire, Plover, Waupaca or Crystal – four of Central Wisconsin’s finest streams. Having to drive back down to Madison that same day, it didn’t make much sense to drive further north, so we took the Eau Claire and Plover Rivers off the table. As for the Waupaca and Crystal, it came down to a coin toss. (It dawned on me only after the best two out of three went to the Waupaca that we were deciding this in the Crystal Café. In retrospect, we probably should’ve gone with our pie-lined bellies and done the Crystal River.)

Ever since Barry intrepidly paddled the lakes chain of the Crystal back in April 2015, I’ve really wanted to experience that section. Plus, I personally have paddled the Crystal only once, loved it, and have longed for rekindling it. Furthermore, I thought my girlfriend would find it endearingly charming. The problem we presently faced was 20-mph winds from the north, which really didn’t seem like much fun when paddling two miles of lakes on a day that was never going to be warm in the first place. That’s why I deferred to the coin. That and I knew that the Waupaca was at a higher level than when I’d paddled it two years earlier.

I’m mentioning all of this to illustrate the “best laid plans” nature of what was to come later on…

So, since we were going to tackle the Waupaca, I recalled the do’s and don’ts of my debacle two years ago. Then, I’d begun the trip below the dam in Amherst and finished at Durrant Road bridge. I sure as hell wasn’t doing that again, so we put-in and took-out further downstream. While paddling the Waupaca two years ago, I recalled seeing an auspicious place to access the river via Buchholz Road. We checked it out this time, and indeed it’s excellent. The road is quiet and has virtually no traffic, there’s easy roadside parking, and the bank at the water is low, flat and dry, making it really convenient to launch a boat. Cool. What I recalled then also was that by beginning a trip here, as opposed to downtown Amherst, one wouldn’t be harassed by the constant white-noise whir of traffic along Highway 10. This, I’m happy to say, was spot-on accurate.

For the take-out, we opted for what’s commonly referred to as County Road Q near Cobbtown Road (County Q used to end here at Cobbtown Road, but the highway was diverted and the Cobbtown Road bridge was removed, however, the street sign and maps continue to say “County Road Q” before it turns into Cobbtown). The landing is along the river, not at the bridge. Like most paddlers, I began my first-ever trip down the Waupaca here at Cobbtown/County Road Q, so I knew it would be a convenient way to begin the trip. What I didn’t know – and seriously miscalculated – was the distance between Durrant Road and County Road Q. I figured it would be about 2.5-ish miles (which for the record was an estimate based out of thin air). In reality, it’s 5 miles.

Compounding that error, I misremembered my trip from two years ago as having been 10 miles, when in reality it was 13 miles. So, in my head at the time of the coin toss, possibly under the influence of pie, I thought the following: “OK, so last time it was 10 miles, but this time we’ll be shaving off a good 3.5 miles by starting at Buchholz. So, that’s 6.5 miles, plus another 2.5ish by paddling past Durrant Road and taking out at County Road Q, this should be about 9 miles, 10 tops.” Except that it was actually closer to 13 miles. Whoops.

Had I known this beforehand, I most definitely would not have suggested this trip A) at all or B) at 2:20 pm on a Sunday when still having to get back home to Madison later that day. Mea culpa extremis.

Finally, and admittedly unrelated to paddling the Waupaca River in general but still one more thing to add to this disappointing day since we listened to it on my weather radio during our paddle, this was the Sunday when the Packers were playing the Vikings, away in Minneapolis, aka the game when Aaron Rodgers was sucker-tackled and consequently broke his collarbone again. Again!?! That loss was far more devastating than losing the dumb game to the damn Vikings. It may also have underscored or foreshadowed the end of our trip on the river this day…

Riffles begin right off the bat at Buchholz Road, leading you to the huge twin bridges at Highway 10 – the only super-structure in sight during this particular stretch of the Waupaca. Immediately below Highway 10 is one of a half-dozen farm bridges. This is quickly followed by the first of a few boulder gardens – this one arguably the most scenic in that the erratic rocks here are the biggest we know about anywhere on the Waupaca River. As you might imagine, the current is brisk here, featuring frisky riffles. Once again, I’d like to adapt a former slogan about skiing in the area for paddling:

“The Waupaca River, where the kayak fanatic meets the glacial erratic.”

After the big boulders, a beautiful hillside will rise some 40-50′ on your right. It’s a pretty scene, as there is no shoreline there; the hill simply extends upward directly from the water’s edge. Boulders and riffles continue, the banks lined by pine trees. This is quintessential Waupaca River, especially in peak autumn color. Downed trees are found everywhere, the riverbed looking like some awful battleground, but good boat control should ensure getting around these without issue. (Note the key word here – should.)

You’ll pass through one of the two riffly culverts comprising the Otto Road bridge, the first of a few such culvert bridges during this trip. Another aesthetic section follows Otto Road, where both banks are undeveloped and the feeling is that of paddling through the heart of a forest. That sense of abandon will be tempered by a quick succession of A) powerlines, B) a horse pasture at a hill on the left, and C) two sets of wires spanning both banks (each marked with very visible pink surveyor tape). At the relatively high water level we paddled the Waupaca on this trip, the first wire was low enough to just paddle over without ado. The wires are not barbed, and my girlfriend awkwardly demonstrated that they’re not electric either, after unconsciously grabbing one to lift over her head. (PSA: please don’t try this at home! It’s best never to grab any wire while on the water.) I for one put my own homemade Y’er to its debut test, and of course it worked like a charm! Right after this comes the culvert bridge at County Road T, where on the downstream side, on river-left, there’s excellent access. Indeed, here, as with several other bridges downstream, there’s public easement along the river for fishing, as the Waupaca River is a noted Class I trout stream.

After County Road T both banks lower but you’ll still see hills in the background. The immediate landscape remains pretty; boulders, pine trees and riffles contribute to the Waupaca being an engaging river. The river meanders quite a bit here, past a zip line and then the quaint little bridge at quaintly named “2 Rivers Drive.” Soon after this you’ll come upon a cool footbridge, the walkway of which was built in situ on top of a downed tree. When I paddled this section two years ago at a lower level, I just ducked beneath the tree; but this time around, at a higher level, we had to portage around it on the right, which was easy. Check out the difference a couple inches of water in a river makes, then in 2015 and now in 2017.

Soon the left bank will rise about 30′, and another engaging boulder garden with light rapids follows. This is the beginning of what we believe to be the funnest, most rugged section of the Waupaca River. In October 2015 there was a strand of wire preceding the boulder garden, just after the rise in the left bank. This time around, in higher water, I saw no such strand. It’s probably there still, just submerged. A large island splits the river in two, with the right channel being the better choice. If you can take your eyes off the water for a moment, you’ll see a boulder-studded field on the right. Upstream of the County Road DD bridge is another strand of wire that will always be present unless there’s Biblically-high water levels. The wire is high above the water line and well marked with white ties, so it shouldn’t pose a safety hazard. A solid 50 yards of Class I-II rapids precedes and then follows the County Road DD bridge past some attractive stone abutments, boulders, footbridges and a Bible camp with rustic cabins. This section of the river is especially pretty. Expect to get wet in the rapids, however.

The two miles from County Road DD to Durrant Road are pretty and peaceful, the landscape woodsy and mostly undeveloped (but for one huge log “cabin”). The current slackens, and there are a couple relaxing straightaways. Infamous Durrant Road comes next, another twin-culvert bridge. It was here, two years ago, where my kayak was stolen. Appropriately, I met it this time around with a single-finger salute.

Meister Mike Svob describes the wooly Waupaca River in this neck of the woods as such:

“The following section, from County DD to County Q, is… winding, riffly, and wooded, with many limbs and trees to get around and over.”

Boy oh boy, is that ever true from Durrant Road to County Road Q! Below Durrant you’ll encounter a thoughtfully chainsawed log that, because it is chockablock with another downed tree abutting it, looks notched. As with many tricky, twisty spots in the, ahem, five miles from Durrant Road to County Road Q, be careful threading your way through the obstacle course. You’ll be constantly ducking, dodging, riding over all sorts of deadfall, bending forward, backward – just don’t go sideways…

It’s a little over a mile from Durrant Road to the next bridge, at Cobbtown Road. Below the bridge is a fun little chute followed by a modest little boulder garden – the last rapid on this trip. One could take out here on the downstream side of the bridge, on river-right. It wouldn’t be the best access, but it would be doable and spare the paddler the next segment of river, to County Road Q.

From Cobbtown to County Road Q is about 3.75 miles, most of it unredeeming and tedious, frankly. (With the noted exception of a house/estate with 1) the biggest boulder-studded retaining wall I’ve ever seen, 2) a footbridge of magnanimous proportion that resembles the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland, and 3) an extremely impressive root cellar/hoop house/greenhouse, all on the left). Barry described the Cobbtown Road to County Road Q segment as a “windy and congested paddle” that’s all “trees and limbs and logs,” which is absolutely true. Gone are the boulder gardens and gentle hills. In his write-up, Barry stated “There are a couple must-portages in a kayak, probably a couple more in a canoe.” That was in September 2014. As of October 2017, we didn’t have to portage a single time here, although there were several close scrapes. How much of this had to do with higher water, and how much from volunteers clearing the river, is anyone’s guess.

Allow me to be crystal clear about this, however: even though we didn’t have to portage in this final segment, my girlfriend did get pinned against a log, took in water, and had to sideways-escape. Don’t underestimate the hazards of moving current and snaggly trees.

There are two more bridges before the take-out: the first is a low-clearance concrete slab leading to a house, the second a modest, non-culvert affair at Frost Valley Road. A couple more kinky meanders follow, but then a long straightaway eases the paddler to the landing/take-out on the left before the County Road Q bridge. There are two options here: a wooden pier a foot or so above the water line or a convenient cleft in the bank just past the pier; the first is good for canoes, the latter is better for kayaks.

One last bit of trivia: while we’ve been puzzled and nonplussed by the Tomorrow-Waupaca River name swap for a couple years, I think I can shed a bit of light on the obscurity. Meister Svob states that upstream of the dam in Amherst the river is called “Tomorrow,” whereas downstream it goes by “Waupaca,” even though A) it’s the same stream and B) the word waupaca means “tomorrow.” This never made sense or felt right to us. Seriously? The same river changes names at a dam? That seems suspicious. While driving along Highway 10 for this trip, I noticed that the river is called “Tomorrow” on the highway signs at the bridges, even though this stretch of river is downstream from the Amherst dam. Then it hit me, the name change probably occurs on the county line, such that in Portage County it’s called Tomorrow, while in Waupaca County it’s called, well, Waupaca. That seems more reasonable, even though it still seems a bit silly for the same river to go by two different names.

What we liked:
This stretch of the Waupaca River is classic central Wisconsin that’s arguably the best bang for your buck. The water color is clear, the current frisky and fun. The boulder gardens are gorgeous and engaging, especially the extraordinary first set below Highway 10 and then the run leading to and following County Road DD. The Waupaca is not a whitewater river, but good boat control and river-reading skills will be needed to avoid accidents (or, I should say, to best avoid accidents).

The gentle hills, surrounding landscape, and enveloping woods, especially in crisp, vibrant autumn, gives the whole experience a downright magical feel to it. One could, of course, paddle the Waupaca at any time of the year, but we strongly recommend autumn (even though I personally have been burned twice now in as many years).

I should mention, too, that catching the Waupaca at this water level was excellent and made for a much better paddling experience than in 2015. There was some scraping here and there, but nothing compared to 2015. You really need to check the USGS gauge before heading to the river, to verify that it’s high enough. You’ll want a minimum of 250 cfs, preferably higher.

What we didn’t like:
We could do without the wires, but to be fair, on this particular trip at least, at our water levels, none of the wires posed a hazard. Still though…

The notable hazards on this segment of the Waupaca River are all the “trees and limbs and logs” you’ll have to contend with. There’s a lot of chainsaw evidence from fellow paddlers/volunteers maintaining this section of the river, which is awesome and hugely appreciated, but it’s an endless task.

The debacle of my girlfriend getting dumped was awful, as one could imagine. I wished it had happened to me instead! The cruel irony was I recommended that she use the Perception Expression 11.5 kayak instead of the Pyranha Fusion 10 precisely because I didn’t want her to get wet (concerned as I was about my ever-leaking, always-cracked-somewhere boat dubbed “Uff Da”). Would she still have been pinned and tipped? Who knows. But once again it was a case of “best laid plans.”

Fortunately, the river was shallow enough to stand in (although the water was friggin’ cold!), and it wasn’t too hard to rescue her boat (although it weighed about a thousand pounds with all the water in it). And this, dear reader, is why you pack a spare set of clothes in a dry bag whenever paddling, but especially in cold weather. All in all, we lost about an hour of time, a Miles Paddled beer coozie, and a can of Pringles. We both were a little chilly, however, and shaken up by the ordeal.

And with that lost hour came paddling the last mile or so of this trip in the pitch dark, since night comes early in mid-October. This part of the trip just utterly sucked. As I mentioned, we were shaken up already, and chilly, but paddling a river as congested with deadfall as the Waupaca in the waning light of dusk unto evening, well that’s something else. Mercifully, there are no rapids or riffles here, but the current is still strong enough and not to be taken for granted around strainers with limited visibility. I did eventually break out a flashlight (OK, so I have learned one or two things from past mistakes…), which did help out considerably. But it also gave the whole effect a kind of Blair Witch handheld-camera-shake, spooky effect, which itself did little to calm our nerves. Why do I do the Waupaca in October, so close to Halloween? Good question.

If we did this trip again:
Here’s what I wrote last time for this section of the trip report: “I would try to put-in off Buchholz Road and take out at Cobbtown Road. And only when it’s warmer and less windy. And only in higher water. And only in a boat that isn’t cracked and doesn’t take in water. And only if I lock up my boat at the takeout!” OK, so of those six factors, I failed miserably on paddling when it’s warmer and less windy. But while my boat is still cracked (it’s always cracked, no matter how many times it gets repaired), it didn’t take in water (thanks duct tape and higher river levels). The locking-up at the take-out goes without saying.

Silliness aside, I would do Buchholz Road (or however it’s spelled) to Cobbtown Road again in a heartbeat. It features the best of the good stuff without the worst of the deadfall. To be clear – and God help me if I don’t remember this correctly in the future – that would be about 9.5 miles long, which we consider to be just about perfect for a river like the Waupaca.

Related Information:
Tomorrow-Waupaca River Overview: Tomorrow-Waupaca River Paddle Guide
Tomorrow River: Rolling Hills Road to Amherst
Waupaca River I: Amherst to Durrant Road
Waupaca River III: County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park
Waupaca River IV: Riverview Park to Reek Road
Waupaca River V: Weyauwega to Decker Memorial Park
Camp: Hartman Creek State Park
Wikipedia: Waupaca River

Photo Gallery:


Alternate Trip Report: Shorter Paddle (7 Miles)
County Highway DD to County Highway Q
September 22, 2014
☆ ☆ ☆

This section of the Waupaca River is less traveled and therefore, semi-maintained but if you’re in need of a Waupaca fix and you don’t mind dodging a fallen tree or two, this is a nice seven-mile stretch. Almost evenly split in half, the first three and a half miles are easy-going but the last half might test your tolerance for fallen logs and limbs.

Skill Level: Intermediate
Class Difficulty: Class I

Gauge Recorded on this Trip:
Waupaca: ht/ft: 1.86 | cfs: 242

Current Levels:
Waupaca: Gauge discontinued in June of 2020.

Recommended Levels:
This is the recommended minimum level. Shoot for 1.9’ and 250 cfs on this segment of the Waupaca to avoid a lot of scraping.

County Highway DD
GPS: 44.38378, -89.25172
County Highway Q, Waupaca, Wisconsin
GPS: 44.37401, -89.18545

Time: Put in at 11:40a. Out at 2:05p.
Total Time: 2h 25m
Miles Paddled: 7

Cranes, trout, ducks and a dozen sleepy deer.

Shuttle Information:
This is an incredibly short, pleasant and relatively safe bike shuttle. There isn’t a whole lot of traffic on these roads and very few inclines.


Mike Svob wrote about two Waupaca River trips in his much-beloved book, Paddling Southern Wisconsin. The first, Amherst to County Road DD. The second, County Road Q to Brainard’s Bridge Park. This begged the question; “what exactly is going on between DD and County Q?”.

He offered a brief overview of the trip at the end of his Waupaca River 1 report; “The following section, from County DD to County Q, is much like this stretch: winding, riffly, and wooded, with many limbs and trees to get around and over.” Curiosity got the best of me, so I set out to get a first-hand account of this seven-mile section. Mike’s account is mostly correct. It’s not often riffly as suggested (this may be the result of water levels or just the natural change in the river’s course) but yes, there are indeed many downed trees to contend with.

I’m a sucker for the Waupaca area in fall so it doesn’t take much twisting of my arm to make the trip from Madison on a regular basis. I don’t know what it is but there’s nothing like camping at Hartmann Creek State Park when the weather turns a little crisper or venturing out on the cooler waters of the Crystal or Waupaca River.

The last time we paddled the beloved Waupaca, we started at County Highway Q. Setting my sights upstream, I scouted every bridge from the take-out to the put-in at County Highway DD. I really liked what I was seeing and I lead myself to believe that there was a lot of excitement in-store because all three bridges looked really inviting. But the only riffles and excitement is found within the first few hundred yards at the put-in and then at the Cobbtown Road bridge.

This section alternates between canopy-covered to tree-lined banks with a moderate amount of development. The surface is occasionally broken by the dotting of boulders within the first 3 miles. This was feeling like a 4-star paddle until just past Cobbtown Road where everything changes (it’s essentially the half-way point on this trip and it’s the same road as Durant which is confusing but expected in this area where rivers and roads seem to change names suddenly and without reason – I’m talking about you, Tomorrow). Right under that bridge is an exhilarating but gentle elongated drop which was quite welcome after a mildly-scenic stretch. Right after that, you’ll encounter a wonderful boulder garden and then a Golden Gate-style footbridge on a meticulously manicured property. This marks the beginning of a windy and congested paddle for the last 3.5 miles.

There are a couple must-portages in a kayak, probably a couple more in a canoe. Despite sawn off limbs, indicating this section is frequented, it’s probably not frequented enough to keep up with recent storms. It’s not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination. The surroundings really reminded me of the Plover River, with its abundance of downed trees to negotiate but not enough to cause frustration. And the make-up of the river makes for a very different stretch aesthetically than from DD to Cobbtown. There are no random boulder gardens (a Waupaca-hallmark) to greet you along the way, just trees and limbs and logs.

What we liked:
I always enjoy a trip down the Waupaca, a river which is the definition of clean, clear and pretty. It’s really appealing to me and one of my favorites in Central Wisconsin. And I was catching it at that special time when the fall colors were just about to show themselves. It was a slightly crisp start to the day after a very cold night (note to self: consider upgrading to a warmer sleeping bag). In fact, I think the deer were still keeping warm in their beds, as I spooked at least a dozen on the river’s edge.

What we didn’t like:
In his write-up, Waupaca River 1, Mike talks about asking permission for a take-out at a boulder-strewn pasture (it’s quite reminiscent of the Shire, where Sam and Frodo would feel right at home) instead of the County Park downstream because you’d be taking out in the middle of a rapids. His suggested take-out would also be the ideal put-in for this trip had the landowner been standing out in his field at that very moment at that very time but that was not in the cards for me.

The “ask for permission” suggestion by Mike is unrealistic by many standards. First, the people you’d have to ask permission from also have an unnecessary wire stretching taught across the Waupaca not twenty yards upstream from the County DD bridge. Unwelcoming to say the least. Second, I’m not willing to burn a ton of time trying to figure out who owns the land around a stream they do not own.

The County Park Mike refers to is actually Stedman Park which is nothing more than a side of the road inclusion with enough space for 3 vehicles and a short path that leads down to a picnic table which overlooks the abutments to what was once a bridge (it’s here where’ll you get a grand view of a great little series of drops at the start the trip).

You could absolutely put-in at Stedman Park. You’d just have to drag your boats about 40 yards. From there, you could work your way down to the water and put in mid-rapids. It’s absolutely doable – the rapids aren’t formidable by any means. It’s not ideal but it would do the job and is arguably the same amount of work and climbing you’d experience putting-in under the bridge.

Yet, from the County Road DD bridge, down to as far as the eye can see is just about as inviting of an entrance as you’d ever want (well, that is until you’re in the midst of it – more on that in a second) with swift, riffly water and a sizable drop between the abutments and another just further downstream.

Naturally, I wanted to experience both drops so I put-in under County Road DD. It wasn’t easy but not impractical for a bridge-put-in. It involves some guardrail climbing and kayaking tossing to get down to a moderately trodden path to the waters edge.

Right after putting-in and on the approach to the first drop, I found myself fighting the current and a helluva strainer that took all my might to avoid but more often than not, the current is going to take you where it wants to go, (despite desperate pleas being uttered from under my breath)… and this current is a stubborn little guy.

Had my boat been more agile, I may have been able to do a 180-degree turn, and then another 90-degree one to hit the line perfectly but I knew my jalopo-boat wasn’t helping matters. That, and the strainer limb I was utilizing for stability and scooting was tiny, frail and getting frailer near the end – not helping me towards my destination against the current. And I took on some water…

To summarize: From the bridge to the abutments, there’s currently a strainer directly in the currents path and tough to avoid. There’s also some rusty iron poles sticking out of the water (for what purpose, I have no idea). The current is fast and there is a great drop between those abutments (easily Class I). You could put-in just below that at the aforementioned Stedman Park. From there, there’s a brief and fun Class I. And this, is about all the excitement there is until the Cobbtown Road bridge.

A note for those paddling from upstream: If I were paddling down from Amherst, I’d absolutely paddle down to Stedman County Park and enjoy those two exciting drops so long as A) the wire strung across the river just upstream from DD – from that same landowner whom I’d have to ask permission from – didn’t decapitate me and B) the strainer was removed or didn’t take me down. Other than that, there’s no reason to take-out earlier. In fact, you could easily do the drops and paddle back upstream – it’s all on a bend so it’s really easy to get out of the currents way.

If we did this trip again:
The Waupaca River is clean, clear and often reliable, with enough scattered boulders to keep things interesting which makes for a good paddle almost the entire season.

I’d do this section again but not over the downstream section. It’s certainly worth doing if you’re trying to experience the whole Tomorrow/Waupaca, but as a day trip, County Q to Brainards is just more fun. But I really enjoy the Waupaca, regardless of excitement and it gives me a reason to visit this part of Central Wisconsin and Hartmann Creek, which I try to make an annual destination.

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:

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