★ ★ ★

Yahara River II

Stebbensville Road to County Road H:
At higher water levels like these, most of what we love about the lower Yahara River, its sandbars and riffles, are nonexistent and the extended section to the confluence of the Rock is much less pleasant.

Yahara RiverRating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: July 14, 2013

Class Difficulty:

Fulton: ht/ft: 5.61 | cfs: 747

Recommended Levels:
This level is bordering too high. The Yahara loses a lot of its charm in higher water. We recommend between 330-500 cfs on the Fulton gauge.

West Stebbensville Road, Stebbensville, Wisconsin
County Road H (Rock River), Fulton, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 11:30a. Out at 1:15p.
Total Time: 1h 45m
Miles Paddled: 9

Fish, heron and ducks.

Shuttle Information:
The bike shuttle is an easy ride through Fulton and Farmland with a slight incline here and there. It took a little under a half-hour.

What we liked:

I’ve been meaning to do a properly updated report of this section of the Yahara since the last time we posted about this same route, it was a little misleading. It was more of a booze cruise where we spent a lot of time on the sandbars (and it takes nowhere near the seven hours it took us to paddle that day).

The water was much higher than that first trip (and every trip after it). Gone were all the sandbars and most of the riffles, or what I normally consider the best part of this trip. Nonetheless, it was still a pretty paddle.

The put-in off West Stebbensville Road is a short hike from the shoulder near where the Stebbensville Dam once stood not so long ago.

It was at the put-in where I met a guy with a most unusual kayak, it had a motor on the back. So curiosity got the best of me and I had to inquire about it. It’s made for fishing by a company out in New York, Mokai. I had never seen such a thing. He said it tops out at about 20mph. He caught up with me at one point to show me how it worked before he cruised up the Badfish. That encounter was the most excitement I experienced the whole paddle.

The Yahara was rather ho-hum at these levels and there was very little wildlife. I spotted some fish, a heron perched high in a tree and numerous ducks but not much else. It was just a calm paddle on flat water while the river alternated between 50-feet to 250-feet wide at any given time. The water was its usual pretty green, moving swiftly over a rock and sandy bottom (which is much more apparent at lower levels).

At the six-mile point you encounter Murwin Park on river-left. It’s a nice little park and a popular take-out point for paddlers. Murwin to the Rock River is normally worth paddling because there are still some riffles and sandbars to be played on but when the water is high like this, I’d reco taking out there because it got swampy further downstream. About mile past Murwin, I encountered swampland that bordered on bayou and where I half-expected to hear banjo music.

In fact, at the (muddy) take-out, I came upon four hillbillies (and I’m not trying to be mean, I swear these guys would take that as a compliment) fishing for catfish with stinkbait (dead panfish, bluegill, perch, left overnight to ferment, aka rot, so I’m told).

The take-out opportunites on County H are numerous but at conditions like these, they’re all pretty muddy.

Post-shuttle, I did encounter a lot of canoers and kayakers just putting-in to enjoy this easy paddle on a really nice Sunday afternoon.

What we didn’t like:
I think the aforementioned swamp-like trek towards the confluence of the Rock River is a let down in these conditions. It makes for a muddy take-out and a downer on an otherwise pretty paddle.

If we did this trip again:
The Yahara River is a beauty and a staple of our paddling diet but a shallower Yahara is my preferred Yahara. We’re pretty familiar with this section, having paddled Badfish Creek frequently but now that we have it gauged (something we didn’t record years ago) we know to shoot for it when the water is lower.

At levels like these, I’d paddle the Stebbensville to Murwin section and skip the lower part. If it’s at normal levels, I’d paddle down to County Road H.

Related Information:
Yahara River Overview: Yahara River Paddle Guide
Yahara River I: Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park
Yahara River III: Murwin County Park to Janesville
Good People: Friends of the Yahara River
Guide: Yahara Waterways Trail Guide
Wikipedia: Yahara River

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:


Previous Trip Report:
September, 2008
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Our return visit to the Yahara was just as fun as the first and it’s already become one of our go-to paddles. We extended this trip to the Rock River where the take-out was real muddy but that was the only downside to an otherwise great paddle.

Gauge: Fulton: ht/ft: n/a | cfs: 500 (approx)
Time: Put in at 11:30a. Out at 6:30p.
Total Time: 7h

What we liked:
We had another great afternoon paddle on the Yahara, a wonderfully relaxing river, flowing through south-central Wisconsin. Much like our first trip, we took our time and made a day of it. The sun was out and the beer was flowing, so we took our sweet time floating this section. Under normal paddling conditions, this is really only a 2.5-3 hour trip (not the 7 hours it took us).

Instead of taking out at the excellent Murwin County Park landing, we decided to extend our trip and continue down this last section of the Yahara to its confluence with the Rock River. While this section was definitely worthwhile (a few more riffles than the upper part), that decision led us to a much muddier and muckier take-out.

Despite that, it was a great day to be paddling (or floating) the beautiful Yahara River, one of our favorite little places to spend a few hours (or seven).

What we didn’t like:
As mentioned, the take-out we chose was pretty muddy but there are other take-out options in the area that we’d consider next time.

If we did this trip again:
We definitely will but we’ll choose a different take-out point as there are many to choose from on Highway 184. It was however, worth paddling the short section between Murwin County Park and the Rock River, so the mud was a small casualty.

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  • Reply
    September 30, 2010 at 12:55 am

    the 7hrs? did this take several breaks and some messing around or is that straight paddling

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    September 30, 2010 at 1:01 am

    That was a complete leisure paddle. In reality, it should take 2-3 hours at the most. It was just such a nice day, so we enjoyed the sun and sandbars.

  • Reply
    Derek O
    September 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    We are planning to do this stretch on Sunday and plan on putting in around 1:00..I am the Walrus guy on Facebook…hit me up if you wanna join up

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    September 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Hey, thanks for the invite! Unfortunately, I'll be out of town this weekend so no paddling for me. But I do appreciate the offer. Have a great time!

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