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Paddling the Brule River

Brule River State Forest

Whether you're in the mood for a peaceful float with the family or the challenge of an exciting ride through whitewater, the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin can meet your expectations.

This unique, 44-mile-long river varies from a meandering stream in a conifer bog to a fast-flowing river with numerous rapids and ledges. As it flows north, the Brule River drops 418 feet in elevation, plunging 328 feet in just the last 19 miles.

A variety of canoe and kayak experiences

The Bois Brule River offers easygoing trips on the upper river, particularly from Stones Bridge to Winneboujou that nearly anyone can handle. More adventurous folks can stay on the river another 45 minutes and experience Little Joe Rapids, a modest class II rapids located just upstream of the Bois Brule canoe landing.

Still more daring canoeists (and most kayakers) prefer the river north of Pine Tree Landing to the Highway 13 landing. This stretch of river will take paddlers through nearly continuous stretches of riffles, ledges and rapids.

Canoe rental

A canoe rental outfit located in Brule rents out both canoes and kayaks. This business also offers several trips and can pick up or drop off people and canoes.

Approximate time between landings

  • Stones Bridge to Winneboujou: four hours
  • Stones Bridge to Bois Brule Picnic Area/Canoe Landing: 4.75 hours
  • Winneboujou to Bois Brule Picnic Area/Canoe Landing: 45 minutes
  • Winneboujou to Highway 2: 1.25 hours
  • Highway 2 to Pine Tree: four hours
  • Pine Tree to Highway 13: five hours
  • Highway 13 to mouth of the Brule: four hours

Rules of the river

Glass bottles are prohibited. Unopened or empty beverage containers and all litter must be secured in a larger container that is securely fastened to the craft.

Motorized watercraft and inflatables are prohibited on the river. Exception: Motorized watercraft are allowed within 1 mile of the river mouth at Lake Superior.

Paddlers must launch and land only at allowed designated canoe landings. See the Brule River State Forest map [PDF] for landing locations.

One approved and wearable PFD (personal flotation device) is required for each occupant.

Camping is allowed only at state designated campgrounds.

Please use courtesy when on the river:

  • leave no trace;
  • respect private property;
  • pack out whatever you pack in;
  • use quiet voices; and
  • show respect and sensitivity to others enjoying the river.

Groups planning canoe trips on the Brule are encouraged to contact the forest to receive a free copy of a video about rules of the river.

River conditions

River flow (in cubic feet per second) and water levels can fluctuate significantly in the lower (northern) section of the Bois Brule River. Rain and snow melt can increase water flow and raise water levels quickly, creating fast and dangerous conditions.

For more information, see the USGS Bois Brule river flow data [exit DNR].