The Plover River is a gorgeous little river in central Wisconsin that begins in Langlade County south of Antigo where you can also find the headwaters of the Eau Claire, Embarrass and Red Rivers. The Plover River then runs south through Marathon County parallel to the Ice Age Trail that runs two miles to the west. The river then keeps on running south through Reid, Bevent and Sharon townships until it reaches Stevens Point. The river skirts the east end of Stevens Point then joins the Wisconsin River in the town of Plover. To celebrate the first weekend of Autumn, on September 24, 2011 we decided to the paddle a nine mile stretch of the Plover from the small town of Bevent to the bridge at Shantytown Road. Yes there is a Shantytown but we did not get a chance to visit.
I had been looking for an outfitter to set us up with some boats on the Little Wolf or Eau Claire but then I discovered the Plover in the great book Paddling Southern Wisconsin by Mike Svob. If you paddle in Wisconsin, get the book plus it’s companion that covers the state north of Route 29. I had been paddling in that area for the last 15 years and only discovered this trip on the Plover while reading the book. The river is more popular with people coming out of Stevens Point. Eighteen miles west of Tigerton in the small town of Bevent the river is less traveled and more remote.
This is a flat water paddle with a few riffles here and there. Clear, clean water mostly clear of downfall. It looks like the DNR comes through once a year and opens a channel. We faced a few challenges that tested our patience as a functioning two-man canoe team but we never had to get out and walk. If there was a little less water than what we had that day then I could see how you could get hung up on some gravel beds. I had never piloted a canoe with my friend Steve before. I didn’t know what to expect but we actually made a good team that day. I steered and Steve paddled. He paddled like a man possessed. And drank. All the beer. In retrospect it was an over sight making him caretaker of the beer for the entire four-man excursion. But in a way it worked.
The best thing that you can ever say about a trip that you pick blindly out of book was that it was what you was expected. The Plover is a beautiful little river with little signs of civilization for the nine miles between Bevent and Shantytown Road. We paddled at a pretty good clip. We put in at 1pm and finished up at 5:30 or so.Took our moments just to float by deep dark Cedar forests, taking it all in. Then sometimes we kicked-it-in-the-ass and moved. We took a break at at the four mile mark at a spot that looked like it had been someones back country campsite. Someone had a camped there in the last few years. A multi-trunked Red Maple tree reached out from that spots out over the river. It’s leaves somewhere between orange and hot pink.
To learn more about the river visit The Plover River Alliance at http://basineducation.uwex.edu/centralwis/plover.htm