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Backpacker Magazine – June 2001

Raptors Rule Wisconsin's Turtle-Flambeau Waterway

Paddle Wisconsin's Turtle-Flambeau waterway, watch the aerial show, and lay claim to your own island.

by: Eric Hansen

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EXPEDITION PLANNER: Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, Wisconsin

DRIVE TIME: The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage is 200 miles (3 hours) northeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

THE WAY: From Minneapolis-St. Paul, head north on I-35, then east on US 8 to the junction with WI 13. Drive north on WI 13 to Butternut and take County F (then FF) east for 14 miles. Turn at the signed turnoff for Turtle Dam and continue east 2 miles to Sportsman's Landing boat ramp.

TRAILS: All travel on the Turtle-Flambeau's 14,300-acre flowage is by water only. There are six designated boat ramps for public access. To get to the southern arm and Otter Creek, as described at left, use Sportsman's Landing and paddle south along the western shore for 7 miles. The first of several prime campsites appears at mile 4. For the eastern arm of the flowage (a designated quiet area), use Murray's Landing and paddle west. The flowage has 60 designated backcountry campsites. Figure on paddling a maximum of 10 miles per day with a loaded canoe or kayak.

ELEVATION: 1,571 feet.

CAN'T MISS: Evening on the lake, when shadows lengthen and the tremolo of loon song echoes from bay to bay.

CROWD CONTROL: Avoid holiday weekends. Campsites in the quiet area fill first. The south end of the flowage offers the best chance for solitude. Spring and fall are the least crowded times, but avoid fall duck hunting season.

SEASON: Paddling begins in mid-April when the ice melts and continues until the ice returns in late October. The best weather is from June through early September.

GUIDES: Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area Map/Brochure from Mercer Department of Natural Resources (DNR) (see Contact below).

WALK SOFTLY: View all nests and loons with young from afar.

CONTACT: Mercer DNR Ranger Station, Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area, (715) 476-2240; www.dnr.state.wi.us.


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