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Local Trip: Crawfish River

Posted by Rutabaga Staff on 9/8/2013 to Where We Paddle

Azatlan to Jefferson


Drop your boat off on the Crawfish River at Aztalan State Park (located on Jefferson County Hwy Q, about five miles north of Hwy 18 or three miles south of I-94). If you’re setting up a family trip, Aztalan is a great picnic/hang-out spot for kids and spouse while you run the bike shuttle. Figure in just under an hour for the shuttle.

Take Q south to 18 east into Jefferson, and take your first right after crossing the Rock River (Hwy 26 south). As soon as you cross the Rock again, make a right, drive one block, and park. There’s a Nestles catfood plant on your left and your river take-out on the right. Now bike north on Hwy 26 about three miles until you cross the Glacier Drumlin bike trail). Take a left, and enjoy your ride to County Q; make a right (north) and bike a mile or so until you get back to Aztalan. Lock up your bike, and go paddling!

The Crawfish is a wide (80-120 feet) river that pokes along until it joins the Rock River just above the take-out. Running through open pasture with some woodlots and clay outcrops, it has muddy banks and a high sediment load. About one and a half miles from the Aztalan put-in, you’ll pass under the huge (four span… about 240 feet) former rail bridge that you biked across on the shuttle. After another four miles, you’ll cross under the Hwy 18 bridge, and two miles later you’ll be at the take-out. If you seriously hammer down the river, you can complete this route in about an hour and fifteen minutes. If you want to sit back and observe the abundant heron, crane, and turtles along the way, you can double that time allowance.

If you make it a late day trip (especially with kids), the newly restored Hwy 18 Drive-In Theater is just west of Jefferson, and a twilight show is a fantastic way to end the day.

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