Woods & Wetlands

 Sierra Club
Woods & Wetlands Group


June, 2009

Date Title / Location Rating Leader /  Contact Bring $$
Friday - Sunday, 
June 19 - 21
Canoe the Lower Wisconsin
Boscobel, WI 
See Ratings
Evan Craig
Water, camping gear, hat, swim suit, sunscreen, 2 cold lunches. $43 / $13

Click for Pics!Water levels permitting, we'll canoe down the lower Wisconsin River between Muscoda and Boscobel, arriving and camping Friday night in Muscoda, paddling Saturday and Sunday, camping Saturday night on a sandbar island, and driving home Sunday evening. Much of the trip is through a wide, sandy-bottomed Wildlife Area. We'll stop to swim and learn about the wildlife and the water ecology. Cost includes canoes, shuttling, campsites, 2 group breakfasts, and group dinner. (Bring 2 cold lunches.) Less experienced canoeists will be paired with more experienced paddlers the first day. 

This mostly leisurely outing requires paddlers to accurately steer their canoe under a big bridge with strong currents. Participants must fill out the On-line Questionnaire and be approved by the leader. As indicated in the Rating, unskilled paddlers will find this outing challenging. Use the questionnaire to help you consider whether this trip is right for you. A printed and signed Liability Waiver will be required with your deposit. Trip cost includes canoe rental, reduced if you bring your own. Carpooling encouraged.

For easy and safe canoe camping, water discharge should be between 5,000 cfs and 10,000 cfs.
For river level, see the USGS real time data for Muscoda>>.
For upstream tributary levels see USGS at Brewery Creek at Cross Plains>>.
For mid upstream tributary levels see USGS Black Earth Creek at Black Earth>>.
For the 5 day Madison weather forecast, see Intellicast Madison Weather>>.
Also see WI River Watershed Rainfall Summary>>.

LIMIT 16 - 7 reserved as of 6/14/09.


Wisconsin River Wildlife Area Canoeing Weekend !

Click on each picture to download its full size version (good until 2010). More entries are welcome! Help writing the descriptions welcome - send to Evan Craig

Victoria Park, Muscoda


The large "primitive" camping area was smooth, flat, neatly manicured grass, and we had plenty of room to spread out our tents there. After a 4+ hour drive, everyone needed a good night's rest, and woke up to a sunny day on Saturday, 6/20/09.

Beware of Mapquest directions to Muscoda. The smaller back road shortcuts ended with "Road Closed" signs on three different roads.

On the River, Victoria Park, Muscoda


The campground is directly on the river, with only a thin line of trees on the bank.

Esplanade, Victoria Park, Muscoda


A large deck on the river made a perfect viewing spot for the fiery sunset. Later, a moonless night revealed thousands of stars.

River Street, Victoria Park, Muscoda


The fleet.

On Saturday morning we unloaded the boats, drove all the cars to the outfitter in Boscobel, and followed their shuttle vehicle to the take-out on Rt. 61. After dropping off the cars, they shuttled us back to Muscoda.

Victoria Park, Muscoda


In addition to picnic tables and a fire ring, the "primitive" campground shares a bath house with the adjacent drive-in, full service motor home area. It sports running hot and cold water, and a five minute shower for eight quarters.

Victoria Park, Muscoda


Bath house.

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

Photo by Felicity


  • Yellow Belly Sapsucker
  • Otter?
  • Bald Eagles
  • Mississippi Kite?
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Turtles
  • Turtle Eggs
  • Broad Wing Hawk
  • Shore birds
  • Killdeer
  • Mussels
  • Dragonflies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Fish
  • Fat Mucket
  • Red Wing Black Birds
  • Canada Goose
  • Green Heron
  • Mallards
  • Hummingbird (Ruby Throated)
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Tree Swallows
  • Bank Swallows
  • Swifts
  • Peewee
  • Red Belly Woodpecker
  • King Fisher
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • American Pelicans
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler


  • Spiderwort
  • Iris
  • Morning Glory
  • Cinquefoil
  • Poison Ivy
  • Willow

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Chris drove us from WI River Outfitters in Boscobel back to Muscoda, following the N side of the river.

We were back to Muscoda by 10:00.

Leigh's photos!

The launch at Muscoda.

Leigh's photos!

The bridge at Muscoda.

First Swimming Beach


Swim beach #1. As soon as we got out of sight of the bridge at Muscoda, we found a sandy island for a swim in the refreshing water.

L-R: Leigh, Felicity, Barry.

First Swimming Beach



First Swimming Beach


The water looked brown, and after dinner I schooled the class on the use of the Ohio Sediment Stick, and the sources of runoff pollution. It was a surprise that the reading put the water quality in the "Normal" range for TSS.

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Name That Bivalve


I thought the unusual green rays on the shell would make identification of this 4" mussel shell after the trip easy.

At home, I checked my copy of "A Field Guide to the Freshwater Mussels of Chicago Wilderness," and I'm still not sure. Maybe an Elktoe?

Name That Bivalve


Smooth Umbo.

Name That Bivalve


Oops, no picture of the inside hinge.

Jim Bland, co-author of the above titled guide, offers, "The umbo and the "teeth" on the inside of the shells are important for identification. The shell has a vaguely moccasin shape. If I had to guess I would say that it is a Fat Mucket; probably a female."

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Camping on Turtle Island


It must have had a name before we arrived, but we named it for the turtle tracks and egg shells that roamed all around the beach.

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Shelter from the Sun


Felicity decided that we needed shade for the food and our heads, and set about constructing this awning from her tent's rain fly.

Shelter from the Sun


A well deserved rest.

Folding Table


Creature comforts learned from our Alaska guide were well received in Wisconsin too. This table provided a stable platform for the camp stoves, and folds up with the stools into a neat carrying case.

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Welcome shade.

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Reflected Sunset Over Turtle Island

photo by Felicity

A pair of Sandhill Cranes that we had heard foraging in the lateral wetlands beyond the S bank of the river flew over to the far side of our island for the night. They continued their thrilling trumpeting into the evening.

Sunset Over Turtle Island


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Immature bald eagle. We saw about a half dozen mature Bald Eagles on this trip.

Leigh Beyond Ron


Click on the frame to the left to see whether there is a full-size picture linked.

Barry & Felicity


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Lunch Spot

Photo by Felicity

Canada Goose


Sunday Lunch


Beyond Blue River there were no more big beaches with sandy and deep swimming areas. This was the best we could find for lunch. It had recently been dug up by raccoons, herons and geese greedy for turtle eggs.

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Leigh's photos!

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A few of these little butterflies hitched a ride on us, sucking up sweaty minerals from our clothing.

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Excavated turtle eggs.

Leigh's photos!

Wind Farm


The route home took us S on 61 to Fennimore, and E on Rt. 80 past a small wind farm with a dozen or so turbines.  Considering the many migratory birds we saw, this ridge, though windy, might not be the best location.

It was exciting to see the future of US electricity generation, and I pulled off the road and angled the front of the car toward the ditch for this shot. The local sheriff appeared behind me to see what was wrong, so apparently, they've become accustomed already.

Gone With the Wind


Closer inspection reveals that these turbines are already a reminder of the past. The E was Enron's logo.

I knew that the storms that raised levels in Muscoda on the 19th (Friday) moved East, and expected levels to keep rising through Sunday. So I insisted on a Saturday campsite that was at least 1 ft. above water level. But Friday night was the peak at Muscoda.


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