Lower Big Rib River Water Trail

Enjoy a scenic paddle from Riverside Park Landing to Bluegill Bay Park along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway.

Lower Big Rib River Water Trail

Enjoy a scenic paddle from Riverside Park Landing to Bluegill Bay Park along the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway.

Segment vitals

Segment information:
Start: Riverside Park
44.933874, -89.843461

End: Bluegill Bay Park
44.926437, -89.639969
Miles: 0 to 16
Segment length: 16 miles

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

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

Rib Mountain

Rookery Park

The Snake Bridge Island Paddle Park

Trip description

The Lower Big Rib River Water Trail starts its 17-mile meandering journey in Marathon City at Riverside Park just north of the downtown as it flows east to join the Wisconsin River at Bluegill Bay Park on Lake Wausau. Joshua Hathaway in his 1839 government survey of the lands bordering the Wisconsin River between Pointe Basse and Big Bull Falls mentioned the Big Rib River for the first time.

The river flows over sand and gravel bars and along heavily wooded banks that give the river an “up north” feeling of seclusion and adventure. Heron, ducks, and deer are common along its banks and the river never fails to disappoint the angler for smallmouth and walleye. The river can be shallow in late summer so be prepared.

One paddles past a historic abandoned railway bridge, the first to cross the river when the railroad pushed west from Wausau in the 1870s. In the distance, Rib Mountain acts as a natural beacon, drawing you ever closer to Lake Wausau with each paddle stroke.

As the river enters Lake Wausau it is joined by the Little Rib River creating sloughs and backwaters that are magical and will delight the paddler. A bird lover’s treasure exists a bit east and south of the Rib Mountain Drive Bridge at Rookery Park, the largest Blue Heron Rookery in the state.

The Snake Bridge Island Paddle Park hugs the north bank as one paddles under the bridge, the first of its kind in the state, accessible by only paddle craft. It is an excellent spot to disembark, take a walk and view the “tree teepee” that has stood on the island for so many years.

Four designated landings exist on the water trail, at Riverside Park in Marathon City, Mile Marker 0, Little Rib River Landing, Mile Marker 12.6, Gulliver’s Landing, Mile Marker 14.2 which is also an ADA-compliant launch with ADA restrooms, and at Bluegill Bay Park where the trail meets the Great Pinery Heritage Waterway, Mile Marker 17.

Landings

Riverside Park

Coordinates: 44.933874, -89.843461

Parking: Yes

Little Rib River Landing

Coordinates: 44.948680, -89.682705

Parking: Yes

Gulliver’s Landing

Coordinates: 45.482935, -89.679529

Accessible dock: Yes

Parking: Yes

Rookery Park Landing

Coordinates: 44.937007, -89.655286

Parking: Yes

Bluegill Bay Park

Coordinates: 44.926437, -89.639969

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

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

Riverside Park

Rib Mountain State Park

Rookery Park

The Snake Bridge Island Paddle Park

Pine Valley Golf Course

Sunnyvale County Park

State Park Speedway

Wausau Mine Company

El Mezcal

Bluegill Bay County Park

Sandy's Bark Park

Nueske's At Gulliver's Landing

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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