I consulted the Travel Wisconsin fall color report for peak leaf season Wisconsin. It appeared fall foliage would be ideal in northern Wisconsin for Flambeau River canoeing during mid October. Other options included the Great River Road or Door County, but I settled on the Wisconsin northwoods. A mid September paddle would definitely be premature for fall foliage.
The road trip commenced Friday night through southern Wisconsin, and I camped in the Chequamegon-National Forest. The national forest campground allowed me to wake up and arrive in the towns of Philips and Lugerville in order to arrive at the outfitter on time.
Arrival in Lugerville, Wisconsin
Dave from Flambeau Sports greeted me at 7:30 a.m. We tied the canoe on top of my car with sponge blocks, and he provided me with a map. The he said “see you tomorrow at 2 p.m.”
Right away it was evident that the colors would be outstanding. The fall color map did not fabricate. I gazed across the river and the river bank and I was nearly blinded by the fiery colors. I have heard of snow blind, but is there such a phenomenon as foliage blind?
The downstream vista provided even more scenic beauty. I loaded the canoe and feasted my eyes on the glory of autumn in Wisconsin.
Flambeau River Canoeing during peak leaf season Wisconsin
Viewing fall colors proved so spectacular that I did not even want to continue. I inched downstream at the same rate as the musky fisherman drifting downstream casting their fly rods.
The itinerary and objective was Oxbo Campsite. The Flambeau River State Forest description noted it was on the water and scenic. The campsites along the river are free although they limit canoe campers to only one night.
Flambeau River Canoeing – Beautiful fall foliageOxbo consisted of three separate camps. All three were unoccupied. This vacancy came as no surprise as there was a paucity of paddlers on the water.
Dave said he thought all the other canoe rental spots in the area were already closed, and I was the only person renting from him this weekend. It amazes me how people shut down their camping, hiking, and canoeing activities after Labor Day.
Camping at Oxbo Camp in the Flambeau River State Forest
I set up camp at the Oxbo Camp and got my firewood ready for the night and then watched a spectacular sunset unfold. The sunset was so incredible that when the sun’s last rays in the west reflected off the clouds in the east, it turned the whole eastern horizon a purplish pink. I have never seen such beauty from a sunset on the opposite horizon.
Once the sun set, I enjoyed a campfire and several beers as well as several roasted hot dogs. The weather, even at this time of the night, was perfect. The night before got kind of cold. It was in the upper 30s when I left the National Forest campground.
The night I camped was cool, but not freezing nights. Just what one would expect from camping in the fall. I enjoyed warm sunny days while paddling, which is preferable to sunny days and cool.
I woke up the next day and had breakfast and rolled out of the campground. To my horror, it was past 10:30 when I finally got on the water. I had 10 miles to go, and I said I would rendervous with Dave at 2 p.m.
Paddling my rear end off
I paddled my rear end off for the next four hours. Although the shoreline was still beautiful, the trees were not as colorful as the beginning. There were a lot of pine and also some trees that were kind of a washed out yellow.
I came to a spot where the river widened and there were a lot of little islands. This looked like a good spot to check out the map. I realized I was less than a half mile from the pick up point, and I had about 20 minutes to spare.
I emerged around a corner to find Dave waiting for me. I arrived at the take out at 1:58 p.m. He shook his head and said “in 31 years in the business, I think you are the second person who has ever been on time.” I raised my fist in triumph.
Recommend this stretch especially during peak leaf season Wisconsin
I enjoyed the Nine Mile Creek to Babb’s Island trip with the Oxbo Camp as a perfect midpoint. I also highly recommend working with Flambeau Sports. It was $35.00 a day for the rental and $55.00 for the ride.
The nice thing about renting with Dave is he will let you take his canoes anywhere. There are a lot of great rivers in the area, so his outfit is a great place to explore the Flambeau and beyond. I hope that you will be the third person on time in Dave’s illustrious career.