Tomahawk Dam to Camp New Wood County Park

Looking for a more challenging paddling trip? Head to the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway and paddle from Tomahawk Dam to Camp New Wood County Park, covering 15 miles of scenic landscapes. This moderate difficulty segment invites you to camp, hike, and enjoy all that nature’s playground has to offer. The first segment of the trail will have good internet but the rest of the trail will have no internet connection.

 

Beginning in 1886 William H. Bradley, a Michigan-Wisconsin lumberman with many far-flung business interests first proposed a dam on the Wisconsin River in Tomahawk to service the areas sawmills. The company’s plan to construct a dam and large boom works caused great concern to lumber interests in Wausau and Merrill.
They feared that the company would attempt to monopolize the trade on the river, thus jeopardizing their own interests. After several face-to-face negotiations between the two parties, Bradley’s dam was finished in the winter of 1888-89 at a cost of $250,000

At the time, the dam and boom works were the second largest in the United States and the largest on the Wisconsin River. The flowage was originally named Tomahawk Lake but changed to Mohawksin Flowage in 1926 to avoid confusion with the lake in Oneida County. It was derived from names of the three rivers that make their confluence in Tomahawk.

Tomahawk Dam to Camp New Wood County Park

Looking for a more challenging paddling trip? Head to the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway and paddle from Tomahawk Dam to Camp New Wood County Park, covering 15 miles of scenic landscapes. This moderate difficulty segment invites you to camp, hike, and enjoy all that nature’s playground has to offer. The first segment of the trail will have good internet but the rest of the trail will have no internet connection.

Beginning in 1886 William H. Bradley, a Michigan-Wisconsin lumberman with many far-flung business interests first proposed a dam on the Wisconsin River in Tomahawk to service the areas sawmills. The company’s plan to construct a dam and large boom works caused great concern to lumber interests in Wausau and Merrill.
They feared that the company would attempt to monopolize the trade on the river, thus jeopardizing their own interests. After several face-to-face negotiations between the two parties, Bradley’s dam was finished in the winter of 1888-89 at a cost of $250,000

At the time, the dam and boom works were the second largest in the United States and the largest on the Wisconsin River. The flowage was originally named Tomahawk Lake but changed to Mohawksin Flowage in 1926 to avoid confusion with the lake in Oneida County. It was derived from names of the three rivers that make their confluence in Tomahawk.

Segment vitals

Segment information:
Start: Tomahawk Dam
45.443570, -89.728225

End: Camp New Wood County Park
45.287797, -89.792781
Miles: 114 to 129
Segment length: 15 miles

Time required: 7 1/2 hours
Segment difficulty: Moderate
Skill level: Intermediate
Water level: Good
Gradient: x.x feet/mile
Trail Type: Scenic

Internet: Spotty

Check out the live data

Flow rates

Flow rates play a crucial role in determining the conditions of rivers for canoeing, kayaking, and paddling activities. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, being informed about flow rates is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Landmarks

Tomahawk Dam Portage

Grandmother Dam Portage

Grandfather Dam Portage

Grandfather Falls Rapids Class I-IV

Grandmother Flowage

Grandfather Flowage

Trip description

The put-in is located below the Tomahawk Dam at Mile Marker 114 on the left bank. Ample parking exists if your plans call for leaving your car at this portage for an all-day paddle.

Not far below the landing is Spirt River, known by the Ojibwa as Manito Sibi. From this point south to the first portage at Grandmother Dam, Mile Marker 121.4 the river takes on a wilder feel to it. Its banks are heavily wooded with Maple, Oak, Ash, Pine, and Hemlock. Wildlife returns in abundance out of the eyesight of the urban Tomahawk.

At Mile Marker 121.4, one encounters Grandmother Dam. In J.D. Norwood Journal of Discovery, he describes this section of the river dated October 6th, 1847. Believed to be the river channel underlying the Grandmother Flowage – “There is a succession of small rapids for the next four miles, the rocks showing themselves in the borders of the river, at short intervals, the whole distance. The river is very shallow, very wide and the bed is covered with boulders, many of which are from thirty to fifty feet in circumference. Today the river is placid and calm with a short portage on the right.

A little over two miles downriver one passes Barry Creek on left where Benjamin Berry an early lumberman in the area resided in the mid 1840’s. As one passes below the County E bridge, Mile Marker 126 and about a half mile from here is where Julius Posey, one of the early Canadian lumbermen in the area built a trading post/stagecoach station in 1858.

Grandfather Falls Dam, Mile Marker 127 to 128 represents the highest drop of the river at over 90 feet, the portage is located on the left, being one of the longest on the trail due to the rapids and bolder fields at the dam’s base. This is truly a spectacular spot on the trail, worthy of a bit more time to enjoy what Mother Nature has bestowed on us. Two segments of the Ice Age National Scenic trail adjoin the water trail on both sides offering some incredible views.

Our journey comes to an end at Camp New Wood County Park, Mile Marker 129, a CCC camp from the 1930’s where one can camp and reflect on an incredible day on the water!

Landings

Tomahawk Dam Portage

Visit the Tomahawk Dam Portage for great kayaking opportunities! Take in the tranquil beauty, connect with nature, and embark on a peaceful journey along the Wisconsin River.

The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream.

Mileage Marker 111

Portage Length: 300 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°26’36.9″N 89°43’41.6″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.443570, -89.728225

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°26’33.5″N 89°43’43.3″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.442632 N, -89.728703 W

Coordinates: 45.443570 N, -89.728225 W

Parking: Yes

Grandmother Dam Portage

The portage is on the right side of the bank facing downstream

Mileage Marker 118

Portage Length: 500 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°22’02.4″N 89°43’50.0″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.367344, -89.730563

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°21’58.4″N 89°43’48.7″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.366229, -89.730204

Coordinates: 45.367344 N, -89.730563 W

Parking: Yes

Lincoln County E Bridge Landing

Coordinates: 45.321976 N, -89.782381 W

Parking: Yes

Grandfather Dam Portage

The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream

Mileage Marker 124

Portage Length: 1760 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°18’13.9″N 89°47’12.3″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.303868, -89.786752

Follow Portage signs which for the greater part follow the Ice Age Trail.

This portage sign is located at the South end of the Electrical Grid.

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°18’04.8″N 89°47’31.2″W

Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.301325, -89.791986

Coordinates: 45.303868 N, -89.786752 W

Parking: Yes

History

History of papermaking

Wisconsin’s paper industry has seen many changes over the past 170 years and continues to be a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s economy. Papermaking in Wisconsin began in Milwaukee on March 7, 1848. The paper was made of rags and used to publish the Milwaukee Sentinel & Gazette.

Learn More

Wildlife

Deer

Wisconsin boasts a robust deer population, with over one million whitetail deer inhabiting diverse landscapes ranging from forests to farmlands. These adaptable creatures are a common sight throughout the state, contributing to Wisconsin’s rich wildlife heritage.

Black-capped Chickadees

The Black-capped Chickadee is a common and charismatic bird in Wisconsin, thriving in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and suburban areas. Recognizable by their distinctive “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, they are year-round residents, resilient in the state’s diverse ecosystems.

Water Fowls

Wisconsin provides vital habitats for a diverse range of waterfowl species, including ducks, geese, and swans. From the wetlands to the lakes and rivers across the state, these waterfowl find ample breeding and resting grounds, contributing to the rich avian biodiversity of Wisconsin.

Downy Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers are a common sight in Wisconsin, inhabiting various wooded areas, parks, and suburban backyards. Their adaptable nature and preference for mixed woodlands contribute to their widespread presence, making them a delightful visitor to birdwatchers across the state.

Wildlife

Deer

Wisconsin boasts a robust deer population, with over one million whitetail deer inhabiting diverse landscapes ranging from forests to farmlands. These adaptable creatures are a common sight throughout the state, contributing to Wisconsin’s rich wildlife heritage.

Black-capped Chickadees

The Black-capped Chickadee is a common and charismatic bird in Wisconsin, thriving in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, and suburban areas. Recognizable by their distinctive “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call, they are year-round residents, resilient in the state’s diverse ecosystems.

Water Fowls

Wisconsin provides vital habitats for a diverse range of waterfowl species, including ducks, geese, and swans. From the wetlands to the lakes and rivers across the state, these waterfowl find ample breeding and resting grounds, contributing to the rich avian biodiversity of Wisconsin.

Downy Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers are a common sight in Wisconsin, inhabiting various wooded areas, parks, and suburban backyards. Their adaptable nature and preference for mixed woodlands contribute to their widespread presence, making them a delightful visitor to birdwatchers across the state.

Nearby attractions and activities

Ice Age Trail in Camp New Wood County Park

Kahle Park

Rock Falls Rod and Gun Club

Jeb's Bar and Grill

Know Before You Go

Please review these important safety reminders before getting on the water.

Safe & Smart

Check the weather and water temperature before going paddling.

Wear a Lifejacket

Don’t be a statistic.

Know Your Limits

There are old paddlers and bold paddlers, but no old bold paddlers! Know your skill level.

Don’t Drink and Paddle

Water and booze don’t mix.

Have the Right Gear

Footwear, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, trail map, water, snacks, water tight bag for personal items and your cell phone, bilge pump, and first aid kit.

File a Float Plan

Communicate to family and friends your put-in and take-out, and when you are paddling.

Water Levels & Obstacles

Be aware of water levels, rapids, and dams before you get into the water.

In Case of Emergency Call 911

Remember your mile markers and landmarks.

Have a Map or App

Take a map or download an app to know where you are at on the water. 

No Glass on the Wisconsin River

It is illegal to have glass on the Wisconsin River. If you are caught, the DNR will fine you up to $749.

Know Before You Go

Please review these important safety reminders before getting on the water.

Safe & Smart

Check the weather and water temperature before going paddling.

Wear a Lifejacket

Don’t be a statistic.

Know Your Limits

There are old paddlers and bold paddlers, but no old bold paddlers! Know your skill level.

Don’t Drink and Paddle

Water and booze don’t mix.

Have the Right Gear

Footwear, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, trail map, water, snacks, water tight bag for personal items and your cell phone, bilge pump, and first aid kit.

File a Float Plan

Communicate to family and friends your put-in and take-out, and when you are paddling.

Water Levels & Obstacles

Be aware of water levels, rapids, and dams before you get into the water.

In Case of Emergency Call 911

Remember your mile markers and landmarks.

Have a Map or App

Take a map or download an app to know where you are at on the water. 

No Glass on the Wisconsin River

It is illegal to have glass on the Wisconsin River. If you are caught, the DNR will fine you up to $749.

Apps

We put together some recomended apps for anyone planning a trip out on the water.

Resources

Check out these resources to help you out when you are planning a trip out on the water.

Apps

We put together some recomended apps for anyone planning a trip out on the water.

Resources

Check out these resources to help you out when you are planning a trip out on the water.

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