Nicolet National Forest

Pine 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 upon the amount of precipitation. Water levels should be medium or better for good canoeing. The Pine River, designated a Wild River by Wisconsin, offers a primitive experience with very little shoreline development. White pine, red pine, and aspen dominate the shoreline. A variety of wildlife frequents the river and there are several active beaver lodges along the route. The Pine is a Class II trout stream and is periodically stocked with rainbow and brown trout.

Camping is permitted anywhere on National Forest System land outside developed recreation areas. 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 — Chipmunk Rapids Campground is located where Forest Service Road 2150 crosses the river. The six-unit campground is located on the river. A $5 per night fee is charged from early May to the end Of November. An artesian well flows year-round. 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. Lost Lake Campground is located about 1 mile south of Chipmunk Rapids on Forest Service Road 2150. Lost Lake has 27 campsites and a swimming beach. A nature trail is also available. A camping fee of $6 per night is charged from early May to mid-October.

River Facts

Section 1
Wisconsin Hwy. 55
END: Chipmunk Rapids
Summer: I-II
LENGTH: 21 miles
TIME: 10 hours
COUNTY: Forest & Florence

Section 2
START: Chipmunk Rapids
END: Goodman Grade
Summer: II
LENGTH: 10 miles
TIME: 5 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 miles) Put-in point on Hwy. 55—Parking is available at this public boat landing. Downstream 1/2 mile is a short stretch of Class I rapids in two pitches.

(4 1/4 miles) Forest Service Road 2170—Old bridge pilings mark the site, which is not a good landing site. The surrounding land is privately owned, and the road is gated about 1/2 mile from the river.

(5 1/2 miles) Alternate landing on the right bank—This area is also in private ownership. The gate at end of Lotto Road is locked. Here the river is about 1 mile north of Forest Service Road 216a. The next 3 miles are dominated by deep water mixed with shallow, rocky riffles. Expect some dragging during low water periods.

(9 1/2 miles) Kingstone Creek—The creek enters from the right. Just below the mouth of the creek is a Class II rapid in several pitches.

(10 miles) Dam Rapids—A little more than a mile downstream is the remnants of an old logging dam. A short portage on the left bank is required to get around the dam.

(11 1/4 miles) CCC Camp Rapids—A short, shallow rapid in two pitches. The first pitch is a Class I rapid; the second set, just before an old road crossing, is Class II. There is no bridge. The old CCC campsite in the field on the right side of the river is on private land. The river here is about 1 1/2 miles north of Forest Service Road 2168.

(13 miles) Bridge on Forest Service Road 2169—Alternate landing. Just upstream from the bridge is a 3/4-mile stretch of Class I rapids with a nice current. Ruins of an old sawmill lie 200 yards downstream of the bridge on the right bank. Part of the land on either side of the bridge is in private ownership.

(14 1/2 miles) Stevens Creek—The creek enters from the left and marks the boundary of Forest and Florence Counties. There is a short Grade II rapid at the confluence of Stevens Creek. There is a primitive campsite on the left bank, just upstream from the junction of the two streams on National Forest System land.

(15 1/2 miles) Highway 139 Bridge—This alternate landing on State land is surrounded by National Forest System land. Parking and picnicking facilities are available.

(16 1/2 miles) Johnson Creek—The creek enters from the left, just below the C&NW Railroad bridge.

(17 1/4 miles) Bridge on Forest Service Road 2133—An alternate landing located on private land. Just above the bridge is a Grade I shallow rock garden that can be aggravating during low water. For the next 3 miles, the river slowly meanders through woods and marshy fields until reaching Chipmunk Rapids.

(20 miles) Fay Lake Outlet—The outlet enters from the right. This area is in private ownership.

(21 miles) Chipmunk Rapids & Forest Service Road 2156—This ends Section 1. The approach is a 1/2-mile Grade I rock garden. The take-out point for this section of the river is on the right, just below the bridge, at Chipmunk Rapids Campground.

This section has a mandatory portage at a waterfall. Portaging may be required at several rapids. Wild, natural scenery with frequent wildlife sightings make this section an exciting trip.

(21 miles) Chipmunk Rapids Campground—The put-in point is at the artesian well parking lot. Starting at this point, the river has a moderate current and good depth for the next several miles.

(24 miles) Forest Service Road 2154—The river crosses through privately owned land. The road here is gated, and there is no public access within 1/4 mile of the river. This is the eastern boundary of the Nicolet National Forest. The remainder of the trip is through forest land owned by Universal Oil Products, Inc.

(25 miles) Snake Tail Rapids—This is a set of shallow rapids separated by a quiet pool. Together, they are one of the longest sets of rapids on the river. The first set of rapids is rated Class III and can be bypassed by means of a portage next to the cabin on the left bank. The lower set of pitches is Class II and can be portaged on the right bank. The end of the Snake Tail Rapids series marks the western boundary of the Wild Rivers section of the Pine.

Fast water, with numerous low rapids and rimes, dominates the river until reaching Meyers Falls, several miles distant.

(25 1/2 miles) Lauterman Creek—The creek enters from the left.

(28 miles) Kieper Creek—The creek enters from the left and is followed by the outlet of Rubago Lake entering on the right.

(29 1/2 miles) Meyers Falls—CAUTION! Watch for a set of sharp zigzag bends—first to the right, then to the left—followed by a straight-away. Watch and listen for the falls and get to the right immediately. An island divides the river into two channels. The right channel is small and may not be recognizable as a channel from the river. The left channel is the main channel and leads into Meyers Falls. Land canoes 100 yards upstream from the falls on the right (the island). This Class IV-V falls is a mandatory portage. The portage runs along the right bank and ends at a nice picnic spot on rock outcropping below falls.

(30 1/2 miles) Goodman Grade—Take-out point for this section of the river. The remains of an old logging railroad crossing is evidenced by pilings. The dirt road on the left bank serves as the landing for taking-out and putting-in. The Hwy. 101 bridge is about 9 miles downstream.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 11 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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