Early Spring Paddling on the Lower Wolf River

After a slow start to Spring paddling season the ice finally went out last week on the Wolf River in Outagamie County.   The section of the Wolf River between Hwy M in Hortonville and Hwy S.  was the first section I decided to paddle in 2011 because it’s closest to home.    The river was the highest that I’ve ever paddled it.   It makes the current slightly faster and the eddies swirl a bit more but it still only moderate current.  A strong paddler will be able to paddle the river upstream which is what I like to do when I’m by myself.  I don’t have to shuttle if I paddle upstream as far as I want and return to my put in.  On the Lower Wolf this is very doable.

Overview

The Wolf between Hwy M and S is about 5 miles by river one way.  This is one of the shorter sections between landing spots in this region of the Wolf River.  This makes for a good place for a shorter paddle.  I decided to avoid shuttling and paddled upstream from hwy M to S.  It takes about twice as long to paddle upstream as it does going downstream with the current.  It’s fun going both ways.

This is the landing area at Hwy M.  It’s on the Southwest corner of the bridge at M.  Dam Yankees is right across the river.  The river is a few feet higher than it usually is in the Summer. With the kayak I put in at my own spot riverside next to the picnic table because the concrete landing (to the left) was completely underwater anyway and this was closer to my parking spot.   Normally the Hwy M landing has plenty of parking but when I returned the parking area was full.  Lots of fishermen trying their luck for the Spring walleye run.  I saw plenty of fishermen but no fish being caught.

Even with the fishermen and boats on the river the river didn’t feel too busy.  I had a couple of boats leave wakes for me to paddle through which is easy paddling for the 17 ft.  Storm kayak that I paddle.  There are lots of fishing shacks along the Wolf River near the roadways.  This picture shows a couple of homes just West of the Hwy M bridge.

Paddling the inside curve on a left hand bend in the river.  With the water being so high it’s fun to paddle the edges of the trees that are land areas when the water is normally lower.  I glided under many trees and dodged lots of branches mostly on the way upstream, staying out of the stronger current.

Headed upstream on the very high Wolf River.  Upstream paddling is not difficult but you can’t make as much progress going against the current.  I like to paddle upstream first.  That way if I get tired I have easier paddling on the way back.  I also like the option of not having to shuttle the car and boat.  I get more time on the water and more exercise.   The river does not look the same going and coming either.  It’s a different experience both ways.

More of the flooded river banks on the Wolf River between M and S.

This is the bridge over Hwy S.  Hwy S was my turn around point today.  This bridge is approximately 5 miles upstream from Hwy S.   There is a landing just upstream of the Hwy S bridge on the Northeast corner.   I like to use the road bridges as guides to how far I’ve paddled on the Wolf.   This day I completed a 10 mile trip.

Another nice trip is starting at Hwy S.  The next landing is at Barker County Park 5.7 miles upstream on the West side of the river or go another mile or so upstream to Shiocton and the Hwy 54 bridge which also has a landing on the Southwest corner of the bridge.

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