Paddling the Flambeau River
The Flambeau River State Forest was first established in 1930 with 3,000 acres set aside for public ownership. Today, the State Forest encompasses over 90,000 acres surrounding more than 60 miles of the scenic Flambeau River North and South Forks. This is one of the largest, most undeveloped public-use areas in Wisconsin where paddlers will find mile after mile of remote and wild, scenic beauty.
The Flambeau River North Fork is one of the more popular rivers in Wisconsin for both single-day and multi-day canoe and kayak trips, and is a suitable destination for paddlers of all skill levels. The Flambeau River South Fork has a larger number of difficult rapids and is better suited for more experienced canoers and kayakers.
The second and third segments (FN2 & FN3) of the North Fork are flatwater with some riffles and low hazard rapids. The first and fourth segments (FN1 & FN4) feature long stretches of fun class 1 and 2 rapids; especially after Hervas Camp Landing in segment FN4, where Cedar Rapids and Beaver Dam Rapids are located. The first and second segments (FS1 & FS2) of the South Fork feature numerous class 1 and 2 rapids and a few long stretches of flatwater. The third segment (FS3) of the South Fork is for advanced and expert paddlers only; Little Falls, a thundering class 4, and Slough Gundy Rapids, class 2-3, are challenging and scenic whitewater runs.
The surrounding forest is mixed northern hardwoods with sugar and red maple, red oak, yellow birch, white ash, and beautiful stands of quaking aspen. Softwoods include: red, jack and white pines, tall hemlocks, and occasional cedars overhanging rocky riverbanks. Abundant wildlife includes bald eagle, osprey, white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, fisher, and otter. Wolves are rarely seen but occasionally heard crooning at night.
Flambeau River SF RESERVE A CAMPSITE
Chequamegon-Nicolet NF RESERVE A CAMPSITE
The Flambeau River, North Fork is a wonderful river for multi-day canoe/kayak camping for novice paddlers. There are a total of 15 designated, riverside camps on the Flambeau North Fork where the river runs through the Flambeau River State Forest. Each camp has two to three separate sites, and each site offers a fire ring and a picnic table. Camping at the sites is free for paddlers and is available on a 'first-come, first-serve' basis. All sites are non-reservable and paddlers are allowed to stay one night in each camp.
The nearby Flambeau River State Forest has two family campgrounds; Connor's Lake and Lake of the Pines, each with 30 sites. Connors Lake offers 29 reservable sites.
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has a trio of campgrounds close by including scenic Black Lake, located about 30 miles northwest of the Highway 70 Bridge at Oxbow (Segment FN2). The campground has 29 secluded sites, all of which are reservable. In the opposite direction is Sailor Lake CG, located inside the Medford/Park Falls District. This is another scenic lakeside campground with 25 reservable sites.
Generally good paddling throughout spring, summer and fall.
Less experienced paddlers should avoid the river during the winter melt-off in early spring, and after a sustained heavy rainfall. High water levels can produce dangerously high waves in several of the rapids. Call the WDNR State Forest Office at 715.332.5271 for water level information.
There is no USGS River Gauge available for this segment.