Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Pine River oxbow

Pine River oxbow access

I extended my northwoods adventure vacation by canoeing two rivers in northern Wisconsin. The first was the upper Wisconsin River with the Mad Traveler: Kevin Revolinski. We then headed east to Marinette County and paddled the Pine River.

There is probably a Pine River in just about every state in the union. At least each state where a pine tree can be found. It is like the main street or park street of river names.

In Wisconsin, there are actually two. There is a Pine River near Richland Center that flows into the Lower Wisconsin River as well as the one we paddled that empties into the Menominee River near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Border.

Pine River oxbow

Turned out to be a nice day on the Pine despite threatening clouds on the horizon

The Pine River is so remote it has been designated along with the Popple River by Wisconsin as state wild rivers. I like rivers of all types, but if I had my choice, I prefer my rivers wild.

After visiting a brew pub in Eagle River, we headed east dodging scores of wild turkeys along the road. The first job was to locate a campground. It was Saturday night on Labor Day weekend, so this could have been dicey.

Traveling Ted mobile

Traveling Ted mobile loaded down with the pelican – Check out that flashy bumper sticker

Our first stop was a walk-in campground in the Nicolet National Forest. I just returned from a week backpacking Isle Royale and was done with carrying equipment for the time being, so we decided to find a spot with a little more convenience. Further on down the road we found Chipmunk Rapids Campground in the Nicolet National Forest. The campground had ten spots and only one was taken. You have to love remote northern Wisconsin.

Chipmunk Rapids campground

Chipmunk Rapids in the Nicolet National Forest – I definitely will be back to explore this campground again

The campground was perched only a ¼ mile from the Pine River, our river destination, although we were doing a stretch farther downstream. Lost Lake was only a mile away with a swimming area.  There is also a trail network for summer hiking and winter cross-country skiing. I filed this location away in my brain for future reference as I will be back.

Pine River Chipmunk Rapids

Enjoying the sunset over the Pine River at Chipmunk Rapids Campground in the Nicolet National Forest

We awoke to rain and headed into Florence for breakfast. Fortunately, the radar showed us at the edge of a thunderstorm, unlike a previous canoe trip where we sat all day waiting to get out of the clouds. We relaxed and had coffee while waiting for the system to move on.

We then found the put in at the Pine River oxbow, shifted cars, and began the paddle. An oxbow is an extreme U shape in a river. Sometimes the river cuts through the U shape and changes course leaving a cut off lake where the river use to flow called an oxbow lake.

This stretch of the river is very popular with tubers as they can put in at one end of the U shaped bend float downstream for three hours, and then take out at the other end of the bend.  Even though the river mileage is over 3 miles, you end up less than a half mile from the start, so it is easy to come back to the beginning and run it again.

Pine River canoeing

Plenty of pine trees along the Pine River

The stretch we canoed supposedly had class I rapids, but the rifles we encountered were of the no class variety. Even in low water, we floated through without worry. The only concern we had was protecting ourselves from an armada of deer flies that hovered over us the whole stretch of the river. That must be one of the criteria for wild river designation.

Pine River Wisconsin

Clear skies on the Pine River

A little over two hours later we made our destination. We took out right before the Pine emptied into the Menominee River. The river widened out a bit here and made for an easy paddle. The Pine River is more of an adventure farther upstream with a few hardcore rapids and even a waterfall that most guide books recommend paddlers portage.

Pine River Wisconsin

Pine River widening out near its confluence with the Menominee River

For the first time in a long time we were shut out on the bald eagle front. We did see some hawks, teals, kingfishers, and herons as well as deer and turkeys while driving to the campsite.

If you are looking to rent a canoe, SUP, kayak, or tube in the area, check out the Wild Rivers Adventure Company. Check out this link for more information about our route.


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