Hat Rapids Dam to King’s Dam

Enjoy a scenic paddle from Hat Rapids Dam to Kings Dam along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway. This 16-mile trail segment offers a moderate difficulty level, captivating you with rapids, rock outcroppings, and primeval forests. While you’re making your way down the Wisconsin River, your internet will be good through the whole segment.

 

The Wisconsin River has earned a well-deserved name as “The Hardest Working River in the World”, with 25 dams located on it, more than any river in the world. The portages around the dam’s add a sense of excitement to a paddle trip as well as the feeling of accomplishment when one has finished their journey on what the Ojibwa called the “Meskousing”.

When J.D. Norwood’s “Expedition of Discovery” came pass this point in 1847, two sets of rapids existed, later named Black Hawk and White Horse. The original dam was constructed in 1878 on this site was built as a flood dam, used temporarily to raise the water level of the river to float logs downstream to sawmills in Tomahawk. The present dam and powerhouse owned by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) was constructed in 1903. Our Journey begins…

Hat Rapids Dam to King’s Dam

Enjoy a scenic paddle from Hat Rapids Dam to Kings Dam along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway. This 16-mile trail segment offers a moderate difficulty level, captivating you with rapids, rock outcroppings, and primeval forests. While you’re making your way down the Wisconsin River, your internet will be good through the whole segment.

The Wisconsin River has earned a well-deserved name as “The Hardest Working River in the World”, with 25 dams located on it, more than any river in the world. The portages around the dam’s add a sense of excitement to a paddle trip as well as the feeling of accomplishment when one has finished their journey on what the Ojibwa called the “Meskousing”.

When J.D. Norwood’s “Expedition of Discovery” came pass this point in 1847, two sets of rapids existed, later named Black Hawk and White Horse. The original dam was constructed in 1878 on this site was built as a flood dam, used temporarily to raise the water level of the river to float logs downstream to sawmills in Tomahawk. The present dam and powerhouse owned by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) was constructed in 1903. Our Journey begins…

Segment vitals

Segment information:
Start: Hat Rapids Dam
45.571304, -89.479812

End: King’s Dam
45.482935, -89.679529
Miles: 90.5 to 106.5
Segment length: 16 miles

Time required: 8 hours
Segment difficulty: Moderate
Skill level: Intermediate
Water level: Good
Gradient: 4.7 feet/mile
Trail Type: Scenic

Internet: Good

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

Hat Rapids Dam Portage

Whirlpool Rapids

King's Dam Portage

Trip description

The put-in is located below the historic Hat Rapids Dam that was built in 1903 on the left bank. Ample parking exists if you care to leave your car for an all-day paddle.

At Mile Marker 93, just a short distance down river from the Hat Rapids put-in one encounters Camp 10, a 1930’s CCC camp and ski hill with 10-runs used by locals in their pursuit of winter enjoyment on the slopes.

Around Mile Marker 94 the river sounds change from tranquil and serene to bubbling and gurgling as if the river has suddenly turned mad. As the paddler approaches Whirlpool Rapids, a Class I to III rapids based on water conditions. The rapids are short but challenging split by two islands and better traversed along the right bank where the river is covered by a rock garden.

A bit downstream from Mile Marker 96, one encounters Menard Island State Resource Area, a 1700-acre wilderness that is named after Father Rene Menard, the first Jesuit missionary in Wisconsin who disappeared a bit further downstream at one of the many portages on the river in 1661.

This state natural area blankets both sides of the river for over 4.5 miles giving the paddler a sense of what the “Great Pinery “of the north must have felt like prior to the coming of the white man. Back to a bygone era when the forest was still a primeval world of Aspen, Maples, Red Pine, Hemlock, Oak, and the Eastern White Pine. Today, the landscape is little changed with Bald Eagles, River Otters, Wild Turkey and White-Tailed Deer gracing its banks and playing amongst it wooded shores and Islands. Occasionally, one might encounter a black bear lumbering along the banks looking for their dinner.

At Mile Marker 102.5 the trail enters 1,438-acre Lake Alice and river traffic picks up with powerboats and pontoons ending its journey at Kings Dam, Mile Marker 106.5.

Landings

Hat Rapids Dam

Hat Rapids Dam landing offers convenient parking, serene fishing spots, and easy access to the picturesque Wisconsin River.

Hat Rapids Dam Portage (if coming from the North and entering the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway at Hat Rapids Dam):

Mileage Marker: 87
The portage is on the left side of the bank facing downstream.

Portage takeout:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°34’16.7″N 89°28’47.3″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees:  45.571304, -89.479812

Portage put-in:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°34’15.4″N 89°28’49.7″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.570942, -89.480465

Coordinates: 45.571304 N, -89.479812 W

Landing amenities:

Parking: Yes

County A Bridge Landing

Start your paddle at the County A Bridge Landing. With ample parking, picnic areas, and access to the stunning Wisconsin River, it’s the perfect gateway to outdoor adventures.

Coordinates: 45.495805 N, -89.627170 W

Parking: Yes

Kings Dam Portage

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

Mileage Marker 104

Portage Length: 500 feet

Takeout coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°28’58.6″N 89°40’46.3″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.482935, -89.679529

Put-in coordinates:
Launch Coordinates D°M’S”: 45°28’59.5″N 89°40’50.2″W
Launch Coordinates Degrees: 45.483207, -89.680615

Coordinates: 45.482935 N, -89.679529 W

Parking: Yes

History

Wisconsin River's Name

The Wisconsin River’s name has a rich history and varied interpretations, reflecting its significant role in the region’s geography and culture. The river, originating in Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin near the Michigan border, flows southward through central Wisconsin, passing Rhinelander, Wausau, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and the scenic Wisconsin Dells.

Learn More

WVIC Story & Wisconsin River

Born at the turn of the 19th century, WVIC traces its roots from the heart of the Northwoods, through the boom of the paper and power industry, to the river valley we know today. You’ll hear a bit of the WVIC history and what it takes to “run” the Wisconsin River system. The WVIC has been the caretaker of water in 21 reservoirs. Credit: Wausau Pilot & Review

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.

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

Pine Pointe Resort & Campground

Edgewater Country Club

Bottoms Up Bar & Grill

River's Edge

Camp 10 Ski Area

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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