Canoeing, Kayaking & Tubing
One of the most scenic ways to explore Washburn County is by taking a nice float down one of the area's rivers or to head out to Washburn County's primitive area, Sawmill Park, to explore the canoe portage routes. Washburn County is home to the Namekagon River, part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The river cuts directly through the center of Washburn County and offers excellent opportunities for fun on the river.
Broken Spoke Saloon & Campground (Shuttles, Tubes, Canoes, Kayaks)-Located in Earl
Camp Namekagon RV Park & Campground (Shuttles, Tubes, Canoes, Kayaks)-Located in Springbrook
Jack's Canoe Rental (Shuttles, Tubes, Canoes, Kayaks)-Located in Trego
Log Cabin Resort & Campground (Shuttles, Tubes, Canoes, Kayaks)-Located in Trego
Saw This (Kayaks)-Located in Spooner
Sawmill Park Primitive Area/Birchwood Area Canoe Trails:
Washburn County has two primitive canoe/kayak routes in the Birchwood area, six miles north of Birchwood. Both routes are in a primitive area with little to no development and provide a unique opportunity for a quiet, back country experience. Many refer to this area as their "mini boundary waters" due to the amount of glacial lakes and the solitude that they find when exploring this little-known gem. The canoe/kayak route areas lie within heavily forested, rolling topography with a high density of small glacial lakes. These lakes are land locked deep soft water lakes with steep banks and wooded shores. Bass and Panfish are abundant. A canoe portage and trail system has been marked to guide canoeists.
Sawmill Lake Primitive Kayak/Canoe Route:
This kayak/canoe route begins at the Sawmill Lake campground. The portage trail accesses 9 separate lakes, with most portages less than 100 yards. The lakes along this route are relatively deep, with maximum depths of up to 40 feet. Bass and Panfish are abundant, however many of these lakes are prone to winterkill. Of particular interest is the presence of Green Sunfish. Click here for Sawmill Canoe/Kayak Route Map
Loyhead Lake Primitive Canoe Route:
This canoe/kayak route is located 7 miles north of Birchwood. The route begins at Loyhead Lake at the boat landing on the Birchwood Fire Lane. The portage trail accesses 7 separate lakes with most portages less than 200 yards. Click here for Loyhead Lake Canoe/Kayak Route Map
Namekagon River- St. Croix National Scenic Riverway:
Marked canoe/kayak routes lead you along the Yellow River in the southern part of Washburn County and the Totogatic River in the north, as well as the Namekagon River- St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Many campsites are situated along these waterways, which you'll find little changed from the days when fur traders and Native Americans met along their banks.
The Namekagon River is the northern tributary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a federally protected wild and scenic riverway stretching 250 miles through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Namekagon flows for some 50 miles through Washburn County. The National Park Service maintains primitive campsites accessible by water only.
Most of the Namekagon portion of the riverway is entirely undeveloped, offering kayakers/canoeists a genuine wilderness experience. The riverbanks are abundant with deer, muskrat, beaver, turtles and blue herons. Osprey and bald eagles are also seen.
The Namekagon River offers everything from rapids for the experienced kayaker/canoeist to wide, quiet flowages below the dams. Trout fishermen can meet their challenge, and anglers will fish to their heart's content. In most places, no development has been allowed within sight of the river, providing miles of unsurpassed beauty for canoeists and hikers. Tubing is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the river. Canoe, Kayak, Tube rentals and shuttles are available in Trego and Springbrook. For up to date river levels for the Namekagon River, click here.
The Namekagon District Visitor Center provides maps, field guides and information about camping and river conditions. Located on Hwy. 63 just north of Trego, the center features exhibits on local history, as well as an aquarium, slide show and children's touch table. Call (715) 635-8346 for hours.
Namekagon River Maps
St Croix River Maps
The Totogatic, dedicated in 2009 as a Wild River, is a beautiful, undeveloped river crossing the northern portion of Washburn County. The Totogatic River flows from Bayfield County all the way through Burnett County where it meets up with the Namekagon River, a tributary of the St. Croix River. Most of the river is wild and remote, making this river a beautiful path for canoe and kayak enthusiasts. However, some areas are dangerous and not recommended for paddling and you should check with area experts prior to paddling the river.
The Yellow River was called the “River Juane” by early French explorers because of the bright yellow sand on the bottom of Yellow Lake through which it flows. The Yellow River offers stream and lake canoeing with a slow to moderate current and a few gentle rapids. Access is available at numerous road crossings and public landings. There is excellent fly fishing, canoeing or kayaking on the Yellow River as it flows out of Spooner Lake in Washburn County, through Burnett County, which then meets the St. Croix in Danbury. Wildlife is abundant along the Yellow River; most common is the white-tail deer and numerous varieties of waterfowl.