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Play and Huck Run: USA, Wisconsin, Wolf River Section 4
What's it like
A favorite run for midwest paddlers.
This section runs through the Menominee indian reservation. There is a fee to obtain a pass. To purchase the pass you must go to either "Ralphs" at Big Smokey or "Shotgun eddy". DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RUN THIS SECTION WITHOUT A PERMIT!!! If you are caught there are fines and impounds in your future that can include not only your gear but cars for the shuttle etc.
You are shuttled to the put in from the take out at Big Smokey falls (see map).
After the put-in there is about a 3/4-1 mile stretch of flatwater, as the river makes a right turn you will encounter an island, follow the left side of the island.
Shortly from here you will see the first waterfall "sullivans" (5 feet) there is some warm up rapids (class 2). The line down sullivans is quite easy. Look for the mist rising and aim directly for it. if you drop directly into the rising mist you will ride a small ledge that will "auto-boof" you. Should you run right or left there is little consequence. Just after the falls there is a great wave for surfing but be aware of the many rafters bombing through the rapids. You can take out river left to run again.
As you follow downstream the next rapid is "upper duck nest". This is a fairly straightforward C3 rapid, start middle and follow to left through some large waves and pillow action from the right bank. Large eddy river left.
Upper duck nest flows almost directly into "lower duck nest" This is also a fairly straightforward C3 rapid. great wave action on the left but don't get too close to the river left bank. At the bottom of this rapid there are big eddies Left and Right with a terrific wave "Dave's Wave". Popular surf spot with endless possibilities, beware of large rock shortly below.
Although there are more little rapids along the way down they are simply C2 bounces with some minor play.
The next major feature is "Upper Dells". There is a small food/beer stand on the river left side with good scouting ability. Line is stay middle to left for the top then move right at the bottom. Huge pick up eddy at the end of this rapid.
A short section of flatwater will lead you to "Lower Dells".
Lower Dells is most notable by the rising cliffs on the left and right sides of the river. Scout from river left side. The lines vary with the water levels but as a rule of thumb: Left=Hero route, Middle=Standard line, Right=Chicken route. The main drop leads you into a short box canyon with some minor bounce at the bottom. There is another long deep pool/eddy at the end of this section of river to pick up if necessary.
A mile or so of flatwater is next before "Big Smokey falls"(6-8 feet). You will have seen this feature where you parked at the take out. For those who don't wish to run the last waterfall take out on river left before the foot bridge. To run the falls follow the right side of the island (marked with a sign). There is a small hole at the top then the river makes a sharp left turn. Small shallow holes down this section will lead you to the actual waterfall. There is a long reactionary wave that will form on the left side just before the drop, low brace along this or stay middle during the rapid, then punch the wave to ride the rooster tail over the drop.
Take out on river left just after the falls.
How to get there
Hwy 55 in the Menominee Indian Reservation.
Follow Hwy 29 to Shawno. Exit into Shawno and go north to Keshena. Just after Keshena take Hwy 55 north into the reservation. 12-15 miles you will see the large sigh "Big Smokey Falls Rafting". Turn and follow road to parking lot.
+1 715 799 3359
If outside of normal "summer" season call with plenty of time (days) to make sure someone is there to get you a permit.
The local people are the Menominee Indians. Please be considerate to the locals as paddling on the Res is a not a right. Remember to thank Ralph or his employees so that we can enjoy this section of river in the future.
GBRmedic (at) gmail (dot) com
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