My first kayaking trip down the Brule River in northern Wisconsin started at Stones Bridge Landing. The trip ended on this day at the Brule River State Forest Campground Landing. It was a five hour trip with a great mixture of landscapes.
The first half of the river was really shallow from the dry summer. The Brule River is spring fed, so there is enough water year round, but this section of the river was barely runnable for the first couple of miles. I hit a couple of rocks as it was difficult to read the water because the current was so minimal and with a lack of sun it was impossible to spot submerged rocks.
The farther up the river I paddled, the more current I picked up. There were stretches of class I whitewater on the second half of the paddle, so the river completely switched gears.
This section of the river had three different characters. The first was a meandering shallow stream through the beautiful Wisconsin northwoods. About halfway down the river at Cedar Island, the rifles and rapids came into the picture, so the river really picked up. No stretch was all that challenging, but you definitely had to concentrate and find the best path with the river so low.
After a stretch of rapids, the river passed through another zone. It widened out into two lakes. First it was Big Lake and then Lucias Lake, which was divided by a Wildcat Rapids. The lakes were really pretty, but very shallow in stretches.
The bird life really picked up in the lake areas. Great blue herons, kingfishers, pileated woodpeckers, wood ducks, and mergansers could all be seen and heard. Bald eagles are another commonly seen bird on the river, but I did not see any here. I did see one the next day not more than 20 feet from me on a low hanging branch as I entered a rapids.
Once Lucias Lake was in the rear view, I entered a long stretch of class I rapids. Hall Rapids was the most exciting, with a well defined chute, standing waves, and a nice drop. This got me used to some of the more challenging rapids I would encounter on the section farther up the river.
The Brule River is locally known as the “River of Presidents” due to the fact that five presidents have visited the area. Presidents Eisenhower, Grant, Cleveland, Coolidge, Hoover, and Eisenhower have all visited this Wisconsin northwood treasure in search of peace.
Kayaking down this stretch you can see why a President would enjoy it. Many beautiful cabins lined the river as this section takes visitors through a long stretch of private lands. Despite all the cabins, I only saw a couple of fly fishermen plying their trade quietly on the shoreline.
It took me just under five hours to paddle the fifteen miles. About a half hour past the Winneboujou Landing you will find the State Forest Campground Landing.
- Water is available at the Stones Bridge Landing.
- The Brule River State Forest is great for camping. Camping is first come first serve.
- Canoe Rental and livery services can be arranged through Brule River Canoe Rental.
Thanks goes out to Brule River for the complimentary kayak rental and ride. Although the trip was in part sponsored by them, the thoughts, pictures, video, and words are my own.
For those looking for more information on the Brule and other rivers in Wisconsin and Illinois, check out Morrall River Films, who produce helpful guides to local rivers in Wisconsin and Illinois.
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