Canoeing Wisconsin’s Namekagon River

Jack's Canoe and Tube RentalA group of a dozen or so young men had just completed a multi-day canoe trip when we pulled into the parking lot at Jack’s Canoe & Tube Rental in Trego, Wisconsin, early on a Saturday morning. They stowed their gear in their vehicles and gathered for a big group picture. I have no idea how long they had been on the river, but it obviously included at least one night. They were still pumped, it seemed, full of energy.

My husband and I were there for a simple two-hour trip on the Namekagon River. It had been many years since we’d been canoeing, and never in northern Wisconsin. I’d been looking forward to this part of our Wisconsin visit, but I couldn’t imagine taking an overnight canoe trip like that group of 20-somethings, having to haul a tent, sleeping bags and enough food to last and hoping it all didn’t end up overboard.

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Once we were fitted with life jackets, Jack drove us in the van to our launch site just a few miles upstream at Earl’s Landing.

Earl's Landing, Namekagon River, Wisconsin

Ready to paddle

Within minutes we were floating, the sun trying to break through the clouds overhead, riverbanks covered in thick green foliage, a gentle splash of the water the only sound other than an occasional shrill bird call. Until we got to the rapids.

Okay, maybe “rapids” is too powerful a word for a few rocks protruding from water that was maybe a foot deep at that point. Wouldn’t you know, I had just rested my paddle in the canoe and taken my smart phone out to take a few pictures. Shoving the phone back it into my pocket, I grabbed my paddle just in time to push away from a boulder.

Canoeing in northern Wisconsin

The rest of the trip was much the same, easy floating part of the time, avoiding fallen trees and rocks at other times, a nice mix of relaxation and challenge. We ended up finishing the trip in only an hour and fifteen minutes and wishing we would have slowed down the paddling a little to make our time on the river last a little longer. We enjoyed canoeing so much we both left there seriously considering a future overnight trip, complete with tent and sleeping bags. Hopefully, we’ll come to our senses before that happens.

Namekagon River, northern Wisconsin

Jack’s Canoe & Tube Rental, located in Trego, Wisconsin, is a fourth generation business started in the early 1960s. Canoes, kayaks, tubes and stand-up paddleboards are available to rent, and they provide shuttle service to river landings. Trips range from two hours to several days. Primitive camp sites are available for canoe, kayak and tube customers. Check the web site for further details.

Disclosure: Our complimentary canoe trip was hosted by Jack’s Canoe and Tube Rental and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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