After two nights camping and exploring the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, our group switched gears and enjoyed a thrilling day Flambeau River canoeing on the north fork. We explored a section of the river that no one in our group had previously paddled.
Eager to compare Flambeau River stretches
We were eager to explore this stretch of river just below the dam as we had paddled a previous stretch of the north fork a few years earlier. We were curious if there would be similar rapids to Beaver dam rapids and Cedar Rapids.
Bull Moose Patrol led trip
This trip was led and partially outfitted by Scott from Bull Moose Patrol. We brought our own food, but Scott took care of the canoes, so we did not need to worry about bringing our own or canoe rentals.
Training on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage
On the first morning of our camping trip on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, Scott gave a short instruction on the key paddling strokes needed to undertake the whitewater section. Afterwards, we practiced those techniques in the safety of the protected bay. The training focused on the bow paddlers strokes, mainly the draw and cross-draw, and also working in coordination with the stern paddler. This short tutorial came in handy once we began paddling in faster water.
Dam Portage on to the river to begin Flambeau River canoeing
We were parked at Robinson Landing for our Turtle-Flambeau trip, so instead of going through the rigamarole of putting the canoes back up and transporting them onto the river, we decided to just portage the dam. From the flowage, there is a wooden staircase down the levee onto where the put in on the river is to begin to paddle the Flambeau River.
A portage onto the river began our trip on the Flambeau. It felt more like a Boundary Waters beginning than a river trip.
Paddle to Agenda Landing
The plan or the agenda was to paddle from below the dam to Agenda Landing just outside the Flambeau River State Forest. The trip length was about 14 miles of river with several rapids. The skill level of the participants varied from new paddlers to experienced, so Scott pared new paddlers with veteran ones.
Flambeau River canoeing – Question of water level answered early
My main concern was how the water level would be. I paddled a section of the Black River earlier in the summer, which was a disaster thanks to low water levels. Immediately, we encountered a series of class I-II rapids and each one featured healthy sized standing waves.
We paddled through Notch Rock Rapids, Island Rapids, and Flat Rapids in quick succession. In between there were several lesser rapids, so the first three or four miles were quite exciting. There was nothing too technical to any of these; however, it was important to keep the canoe straight through the sizable standing waves.
My partner was Stacie, and she did an excellent job with some timely draws not to mention educating me on some of the plant names along the river. She also excelled in manipulating my GoPro video camera mounted up front. Co-director credit goes to her for the video above.
Awesome scenery and bald eagles
This section of the Flambeau River featured the kind of scenery one would expect from the Wisconsin Northwoods. It also featured similar remoteness. We did not see another paddler and only a few fishermen.
There was a lack of civilization in general on the trip as we only came across a few cabins near the end. Agenda Landing is in the middle of a tiny cluster of homes, but other than than it was a lot of towering pine trees and thick vegetation along the banks. We also saw the customary two or three bald eagles.
Quiet water followed by more rapids
The pattern for the rest of the trip was a few miles of flat quiet water followed by another series of rapids. If one desires a shorter trip, consider taking out at Holts Landing. We took the long trip with another four or five miles added with another batch of rapids.
There are another six or seven rapids between Holt and Agenda Landing making the finale just as exciting as the start. We navigated these rapids just as successfully and then we all went our separate ways after two nights camping on the Turtle Flambeau and one day of thrilling whitewater.
Related: South Fork Flambeau Fall colors
Third trip on the Flambeau in the last five years
This was my third Flambea River canoeing trip in the last five years. Besides the previous Bull Moose Patrol Trip on the North Fork, I paddled a stretch of the South Fork through fall colors. Each trip was beautiful and a great time. The Flambeau River is definitely one of the stand out river in the Wisconsin Northwoods.