The Kickapoo River
As the crow flies, this distance is less than half that long, about 60 miles. The name Kickapoo is Algonquin for "one who goes here, then there" and accurately describes the river, which flows in all directions of the compass for portions of its length.
The Kickapoo is a slow-moving river which overflows its banks rapidly in heavy rains.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) operates three stream gauges on the Kickapoo River. These instruments record the water level and flow of the Kickapoo River hourly. One gauge is in Ontario, one downstream in LaFarge and the third further downstream in Steuben. Water level information [exit DNR] is useful for planning a Kickapoo River canoe trip.
Bring your own canoe or rent one from one of the local canoe liveries [exit DNR]. The liveries also offer shuttle service. The canoe landing in the lower picnic area is a popular starting and stopping point. Be aware of the changing river conditions during rainy weather.
Rivers by their very nature erode their valleys. Most people think of streambank erosion as a rather ugly sight, but the Kickapoo River's erosion has created beautiful vertical or nearly vertical sandstone cliffs along the river.
Some cliffs are large enough to create an isolated humid environment capable of supporting rare plants. You'll see something new and interesting with each turn of this crooked river--sandstone cliffs covered with mosses, ferns, and wildflowers and shaded hemlocks.
You may see muskrats, green herons, great blue herons, and belted kingfishers.
Because of the many trees that line the river, you may encounter navigational hazards such as log jams and downed trees. The only dam remaining on the river is in Gays Mills. This low-head dam is a navigational hazard to all boaters and should be avoided.
Surveys in 1999 and 2000 of the Kickapoo River between Ontario and Gays Mills documented a total of 46 species, including an abundance of brown trout. Since then, this stretch of river has been classified as a Class II trout stream. Trout use this section of river for food and shelter, but likely spawn in tributary streams.
Billings Creek a tributary of the Kickapoo River has a population of brown trout.
For more information, ask:
Wildcat Mountain State Park
E13660 State Highway 33, PO Box 99
Ontario, Wisconsin 54651