Nicolet National Forest

Popple River

The best water levels are in the spring, from late April to early June. From mid-June on, canoeability tapers off significantly. Summer navigability depends on the amount of precipitation. Water levels should be medium or better for good canoeing. If the rock garden at the Hwy. 101 bridge can be run, the Popple is usually okay. It not, conditions may be poor. The scenery along this route is wild and undeveloped. The Popple is a Class II trout stream and is periodically stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

Outside developed recreation areas, camping is permitted anywhere on National Forest System land. Within developed recreation areas, camping is permitted only at designated campsites.

Primitive —No permits are required for camping on National Forest System land. Campfires are permitted as long as they are used solely for warming and cooking purposes. Down and dead firewood may be used for campfires. Please pack out all trash, including all non-burnable refuse. Occasional primitive camping spots are located along the river. USGS topographic maps generally show public land ownership and are helpful in choosing campsites.

Developed —Morgan Lake Campground is located off Forest Service Road 2161, one mile north of the river. There are 18 family sites and 1 group site. The fee for the family sites is $5 per night. The fee for the group site (up to 20 people) is $20 per night. The fees are charged from early May to mid-October. Reservations are required for the group site. When camping in developed campgrounds, fires may be built only in the fire pits or grates that are provided. Down and dead firewood may be used for campfires.

River Facts

Section 1
START: Wisconsin Hwy. 139
END: Forest Svc Rd 2398
Spring: II-III Expert Only
high water
Spring: II
normal water
Summer: I
LENGTH: 7 1/2 miles
TIME: 5-8 hours
COUNTY: Florence

Section 2
Forest Svc Rd 2398
END: Forest Svc Rd 2159
Spring: III-IV Expert Only
high water
Spring: II-III
normal water
LENGTH: 8 1/2 miles
TIME: 5-7 hours
COUNTY: Florence

Nicolet National Forest map 1/2-inch scale - $2 each
7 1/2' USGS quadrangle topographic map-$2.50 each

Points of Interest

(0 mile) Hwy. 139 Bridge—This is the put-in point for the first section of the river. The first 7 1/2 miles, down to Forest Service Road 2398 bridge (Twin Rivers Road), is rated Class I.

(6 miles) McDonald's Rapids—Portaging around this rapids is recommended. You can portage along either bank.

(7 1/2 miles) Forest Service Road 2398 (Twin Rivers Road)—This is the take-out point for the Section 1 and the put-in point for Section 2.


(8 miles) First rapids—This is a very shallow Class I rock garden.

(8 1/2 miles) Podok Dam—This site contains the remnant of an old logging dam. This section of the river runs through privately owned land. The old dam can be viewed from the river and is an interesting piece of the river's history.

(9 1/2 miles) Riley Creek—The creek enters the river from the left. The river widens hero, making canoeing easier. Farther down, the river becomes rocky. The submerged rocks are difficult to spot.

(11 3/4 miles) Burnt Dam Rapids—Two short Class I rapids are located near the mouth of Morgan Creek. A primitive campsite is located here.

(12 miles) Forest Service Road 2159 Bridge—This site provides an unimproved landing with a primitive campsite.

(12 1/4 miles) South Branch of Popple River—The South Branch of the Popple River enters the main branch from the right.

(14 1/4 miles) Rock Creek—The creek enters from the right. Just before this point, there is an unnamed rapids in two pitches. The second pitch is shallow and rocky. This is the beginning of the Wisconsin Wild River section. It is also the east boundary, of the Nicolet National Forest.

(15 miles) Forest Service Road 2159 Bridge—This is the take-out point for this section. The trip may be continued to the bridge on Hwy. 101. The remainder of the trip is designated as a Wisconsin Wild River.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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