Alexander Dam to Riverside Park Landing

Paddle through both urban and natural wonders! Travel from Alexander Dam to Riverside Park along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway. This 5.9-mile trail segment is relatively easy for most paddlers and allows you to enjoy vibrant cityscape views. At the end of this segment you can pull up to the Riverside Park where you can play volleyball, enjoy a disc golf course, or eat a picnic at the shelter!

 

Alexander Dam to Riverside Park Landing

Paddle through both urban and natural wonders! Travel from Alexander Dam to Riverside Park along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway. This 5.9-mile trail segment is relatively easy for most paddlers and allows you to enjoy vibrant cityscape views. At the end of this segment you can pull up to the Riverside Park where you can play volleyball, enjoy a disc golf course, or eat a picnic at the shelter!

Segment vitals

Segment information:
Start: Alexander Dam
45.188514, -89.754247

End: Riverside Park Landing
45.175744, -89.675105
Miles: N/A
Segment length: 5.9 miles

Time required: N/A
Segment difficulty: Easy
Skill level: N/A
Water level: N/A
Gradient: N/A
Trail Type: Urban

Internet: N/A

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

Alexander Dam Portage

Merrill Dam Portage

The Great Spider Invasion Exhibit - Merrill Historical Society

Original Park Street Bridge-Rotary Park

Cosmo Theater

Trip description

The trail starts at Mile Marker 137.8 at the foot of the historical Alexander Dam for this 5.4-mile urban segment. This was the first dam on the Wisconsin River that was fully automated. The dam was named for Walter Alexander, an influential Wausau lumberman, a historical marker next to the portage shares his story. Initially, the trail can be a bit rocky, and you pass many small islands.

The dam also marks a significant geological event in that geologists believe that this was the southern margin of the Wisconsin Valley Lobe during the last Ice Age glacier, 12,000 years ago.

The name Council Grounds was based on stories that bands of Native Americans once used the site for their annual councils and festivals. It is said they traveled down the Wisconsin River by canoe to meet here for several days and nights of celebration each year. Though this claim has not been substantiated, these people certainly knew the land well and used it during their fall and spring pilgrimages as they followed the river to their summer and winter camps.

At Mile Marker 138.6 you will pass Krueger Pines Natural Area, an old-growth northern dry-mesic forest dominated by an even-aged stand of white pine, some as large as two feet in diameter. Red pine is also present along with paper birch, big-tooth aspen, white oak, and black oak.

The river widens out as it approaches Merrill at Mile Marker 140 and the paddle becomes urban, where you will dart under bridges and alongside homes and forgotten factories that once sawed lumber. A designated take-out is provided at Ott’s Park at Mile Marker 140.2.

Although known as Jenny Bull Falls throughout much of the mid-to-late 19th century, the community changed its name to Merrill in the 1881 in honor of the general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

A portage exists at Mile Marker 142.2 on the left side of the river. A portion of the portage is on the River Bend Bike and Pedestrian Trail that runs along the river with a couple of historical markers, one specifically covers the “Great Spider Invasion” which is a bit of Americana movie making that is enjoyable to read.

The trail ends at Mile Marker 143 at Riverside Park Landing on the right bank, a bit downstream from the Merrill Dam.

Landings

Alexander Dam Portage

Discover the hidden gem of Alexander Dam Portage! Immerse yourself in the serene natural beauty, enjoy the peaceful surroundings, and bask in the glory of the Wisconsin River.

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

Mileage Marker 134

Portage Length: 889 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°11’18.7″N 89°45’15.3″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.188514, -89.754247

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°11’12.6″N 89°45’09.8″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.188514 N, -89.754247 W

Coordinates: 45.186830, -89.752708

Parking: Yes

Council Grounds State Park Landing

Council Grounds State Park Landing beckons with its enchanting landscapes and abundant recreational opportunities! From picnicking to hiking and water adventures on Lake Alexandria and the Wisconsin River, this park has it all. This park also has plenty of camping spots for you to set up camp along the Wisconsin River.

Coordinates: 45.190983 N, -89.749783 W

Parking: Yes

Ott’s Park Landing

Explore the captivating beauty of Ott’s Park Landing! Whether it’s kayaking, fishing, or simply enjoying a picnic by the water, this scenic spot on the Wisconsin River promises endless outdoor enjoyment.

Coordinates: 45.183041 N, -89.717344 W

Parking: Yes

Merrill Dam Portage

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

Mileage Marker 138

Portage Length: 600 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°10’45.1″N 89°41’10.6″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.179198, -89.686283

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°10’42.9″N 89°41’02.0″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.178587, -89.683888


Coordinates: 45.179198 N, -89.686283 W

Parking: Yes

Riverside Park Landing

Experience fun times at Riverside Park Landing! Engage in exciting activities like volleyball, disc golf, and horseshoe games amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the Wisconsin River.

Coordinates: 45.175744 N, -89.675105 W

Parking: Yes

History

The Great Pinery of the North

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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.

Otter

Wisconsin hosts a growing population of river otters, especially in wetland habitats near lakes and rivers. Recognized for their playful behavior and sleek appearance, otters contribute to the state’s vibrant aquatic ecosystems.

Eagles

Wisconsin boasts a thriving bald eagle population, with over 1,600 breeding pairs. These majestic birds are commonly found near large bodies of water, including lakes and rivers, where they build their nests and contribute to the state’s rich wildlife heritage.

Walleyes

Walleye, a popular sportfish in Wisconsin, thrives in the state’s lakes and rivers, including the Wisconsin River. With a robust population and widespread distribution, anglers enjoy pursuing this prized species, making it a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s freshwater fisheries.

Beavers

Beavers are widespread throughout Wisconsin, especially in areas with abundant water bodies. Their population contributes to shaping ecosystems by creating wetland habitats and altering landscapes, showcasing the ecological importance of these industrious mammals in the state.

Black Bears

Wisconsin is home to a robust population of black bears, estimated at around 24,000. These adaptable mammals are found in a range of habitats, including forests and swamps, showcasing their ability to thrive in diverse ecosystems.

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.

Otter

Wisconsin hosts a growing population of river otters, especially in wetland habitats near lakes and rivers. Recognized for their playful behavior and sleek appearance, otters contribute to the state’s vibrant aquatic ecosystems.

Eagles

Wisconsin boasts a thriving bald eagle population, with over 1,600 breeding pairs. These majestic birds are commonly found near large bodies of water, including lakes and rivers, where they build their nests and contribute to the state’s rich wildlife heritage.

Walleyes

Walleye, a popular sportfish in Wisconsin, thrives in the state’s lakes and rivers, including the Wisconsin River. With a robust population and widespread distribution, anglers enjoy pursuing this prized species, making it a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s freshwater fisheries.

Beavers

Beavers are widespread throughout Wisconsin, especially in areas with abundant water bodies. Their population contributes to shaping ecosystems by creating wetland habitats and altering landscapes, showcasing the ecological importance of these industrious mammals in the state.

Black Bears

Wisconsin is home to a robust population of black bears, estimated at around 24,000. These adaptable mammals are found in a range of habitats, including forests and swamps, showcasing their ability to thrive in diverse ecosystems.

Nearby attractions and activities

River Bend Trail

Ott’s Park

Cosmo Theater

Krueger Pines State Natural Area

Club 64/aka Kathy & Cal's Club 64

1-900 Bar

Lions Park

Merrill Historical Society, Inc.

Riverside Park

Merrill Public Golf Club

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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