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 10 Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin (Read 6988 times)
Northwoods
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Re: Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin
Reply #10 - Feb 14th, 2005 at 9:17pm
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It's funny, as I've mentioned, I work with a youth group with kids between the ages of 8-15. Our oldest kids go out on a nine day Quetico trip. The youngest go out on a one night Nam. trip.

The link above gives good maps of the Nam. We've never started our trips at Hayward. Now we start at Springbrook and in the past we've started at Groat. Like I said, we're paddling with eight year-olds (usually about eight of them and four staffers) so they don't paddle all that well and we take it slow. We always camp at Earl Park then canoe the next day to Trego. Springbrook to Earl takes about five or six hours. Earl to Trego takes about an hour or an hour and a half. Adults could easily do this stretch in four hours or less. If you've got young kids with you, this is a nice days paddle but if it's a stronger group, you may want to do a bit more.

There is little in the way of rapids. More ripples then anything else. It's a nice, leasurely paddle. There are lots of turtles and some deer as well as various birds (herons, crains, etc). As for campsites, like I said, we always stay at Earl park which is more or less a Holiday Inn. There is tons of areas for several large groups (we did a staff outing one year there and had at least 15-20 tents and there was still lots of room). There is also a smaller, secluded site. Earl has two pit toilets (male and female) and a solar powered water pump. There are several fire pits and picnic tables, too.

If you want any shred of remoteness, don't stay at Earl Park. The park is a few minute walk from the town of Earl (which now has a gentleman's club, which may be a bonus, I guess) and on most trips we get locals coming into the campsite, either to dump trash, camp out, or just check out whats going on. I've never been concerned for safety but you always get some auto traffic. There is also a bridge a few yards upstream from Earl Park. There is a new campsite that's opened within the last few years, the map calling it Big Bend Landing. I've canoed past but never been to itt but I imagine that it's a nice alternative to Earl (it looks nice from the water). The map also shows  several smaller sites, all with picnic tables, lots of tent space, and a pit toilet w/o a structure (the one at Earl is a huge cinder block out house that is quite nice).

At Trego, there is a visitor/ranger station. Often we get the ranger coming around to make sure everything is okay.

I've also canoed various sections of the Nam after Trego, basically having covered the length from the County K landing all the way down to Riverside on the St. Croix. We now do County K to Fritz Landing for our ten-year olds. We used to do Howell to Riverside. Both were two night trips.

It's been a while since I've done these parts of the river, but, like the other stretch of the Nam, it's a nice leasurely paddle. It may be a touch more challanging than the part before Trego but not much. I remember years ago camping on top of some sand dunes that are now closed off. This is a very diverse stretch of the river with some very sandy areas (nice for swimming). There is a little more fast water, but certainly not white water.

All the sites on this river are good sites. They are well cared for and easy to use. The only downside is that some are often used so it's not as easy to find firewood if building a fire. If camping down by Riverside, Big Island garnered the nickname "bug island" and Riverside is wide open and right next to a highway so there is a lot of traffic. The maps quite accurately show where sites are so there are few secrets.

General impressions of the river. First off, it's funny to compare this to Quetico because there just isn't a comparison. This is an easy recreational river but it's a nice family experience. During the weekends of the summer months, there is a lot of activity. Lots of groups, families, etc, but if you don't want to camp at Earl and can go to other sites, this really isn't an issue. You do get the tube groups who can be interesting. I recall once seeing two guys tubing with their tubes tied together with a tube between them and a small keg of beer rigged into the tube. So just know that there isn't always solitude. You can always get away from the various groups but they are there.

Occasionally you'll find a group that just doesn't comprehend etiquette. We were taking a lunch break last year at one site and a group pulled right up to the small site that we were at, set up camp and didn't really give a care that we were trying to enjoy our lunch. There are these people because it's an easy river but you can always get away from them. If you are out there and run into our groups, I am sure that our trip leaders will keep everyone in check.

I guess to sum it all up, we've had a lot great experiences on the Nam. Between the trips we do from Springbrook to Earl and on the other part, we do about 15-20 trips over the course of the summer (mid-June thru mid August). It's a great first experience for younger people and novice canoers. For the more experenced, it may disapoint if you expect too much.

Let me know if you've got more questions, I'm sure that I'm missing stuff.
« Last Edit: Feb 14th, 2005 at 10:48pm by Northwoods »  
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philippe
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Re: Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin
Reply #11 - Mar 25th, 2005 at 12:29pm
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Howdy all --

I'm going to have three days on the N in August.  It'll be a mix of adults and kids ages 8 to early teens.

I'm thinking about taking the run from Hayward to Trego.  Some of the guides (and the National Scenic Riverway folks) call that a two day trip.  I'm wondering if two days might be ambitious with kids, and if I should plan on three days for that stretch.  Any opinions (Especially Northwoods if you've done it with younger paddlers?)?

If I can get to Trego in 2 days, I'm wondering if we should drive around Trego Lake (it would be five or six miles of lake to paddle), put back in at County K., and work down further on the third day.

I was just looking at the National Scenic Riverway site's maps, and it looks like Howell, West Howell, and Fritz landings may be inaccessible from the road for some part of the summer (road construction on Hwy 77).  Have to take that into account.

My preference would be to not find too much traffic on the river, so it sounds like the stretches above Trego would be better.

Also, anyone ever paddled the section above Hayward?  Is that a spring-only river up there?

Thanks much.
  
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Northwoods
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Re: Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin
Reply #12 - Apr 6th, 2005 at 8:52pm
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Philippe, sorry it took so long for me to reply. I haven't scrolled down to this section of the boards and missed the question.

Some background on this trip. First off, the kids that I take are nine years old or so. They are very inexperienced, mediocre paddlers who paddle from bank to bank. There are three other adults on the trip. We take it slowly, let the kids swim, etc. It takes us five or six hours at this pace to get from Springbrook to Earl and another hour and a half to get from Earl to Trego. Groat is the farthest upstream that I've ever paddled. I can't give you an accurate answer on whether or not you could get from Hayward to Trego in two days. To me, that seems like a bit much with kids. But it depends on the pace of your trip. If you want to start early in the morning on day one and paddle for eight hours and do the same on day two, you could probably do it.  It depends what time you want to get started and finish each day. Personally, I think that you're better off camping around Springbrook or Groat on day one, to Earl on day two. This gives you a short day on the third day so you can either get a late start or pack up and get off the river early.

As for pulling out and putting back in further down the river, that seems to be more effort then it's worth. To get off the river after a long day on day two, drive to county K (it's about a fifteen minute drive), get back on the river and find your campsite just seems not worth it. The area between County K and Fritz is nice. I just think that I'd take it slower between Hayward and Trego and enjoy that part of the river. I am wondering what time you'd want to be off the river on day three, especially if you've got to drive home. If you head down to County K, you are going to spend a long day on the river on your third and final day.

Sorry that I can't tell you more about the Nam between Hayward and Groat. Overall, I think that the longer trip really changes the dynamic of the trip. If you're going for more of a challange rather than a slow river, I'd suggest hitting the Flambeau. In terms of traffic, Hayward to Trego is going to see more traffic than County K to the Namekagon Trail Bridge or Riverside. If you want to stay away from traffic, do not camp at Earl Park.
  
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philippe
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Re: Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin
Reply #13 - Apr 7th, 2005 at 10:45am
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Many thanks for the reply.  I was on the Flambeau last September, just after labor day.  We had the whole river to ourselves.  Very, very nice, although I want to go back in the spring when the water levels are higher.  Gotta love whitewater.

Taking 3 days for Hayward -> Trego sounds like about the right pace for our group.  I'll post a report after all is said and done.

Bon Voyage.

Philippe
  
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Jim J Solo
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Re: Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin
Reply #14 - Apr 2nd, 2021 at 9:46am
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