Clearwater Dells to Hall's Creek Landing
About the Put-In: Stairs and a boat slide allow access to the waterway at a nice boulder garden that has easy access to the water itself. Location is river-left.
About the Take-Out: Hall’s Creek Canoe Landing has ample parking and allows for easy egress from the Black River. Location is river-right at the confluence of Hall’s Creek with the Black River.
We start at the place near and dear to our hearts: Clearwater Dells. From Clearwater Dells, you will paddle down an endless
array of riffles and small rapids on your way towards the County Road E Bridge. This bridge does offer put-in and take-out opportunities (located upstream river-left), but the path from the waterway to the highway is a rutted, overgrown, tick-infested stretch. Even though the county owns these right-of-way passages, that does not mean they mow or upkeep them any more than necessary. This is why we believe that Clearwater Dells offers a much better solution than the County Road E Bridge for entry or egress. Without entry at either the County Road E Bridge or Clearwater Dells, there would only be two legs on Hall’s Creek, and neither would be classified as Beginner. What a shame that would be, because I think that short little trip between Clearwater Dells/County Road E Bridge down to the canoe landing is such a perfect little trip for beginners, or for smaller children, to experience kayaking and see some great things packed into such a short little trip. It is the kind of trip that I think beginners will walk away from wanting to step up to the next leg, waterway or trip.
Once you pass beneath the County Road E Bridge you have crossed into the Black River State Forest. From this point all of the way to the take-out at the canoe landing, you are in state-owned land and are free to explore if you chose to get out of your kayak and take a break from things.
As you pass into this state-owned land, you will experience more riffles and small rapids, but nothing a beginner cannot handle. You will encounter a large sheer cliff that has released a very large boulder that has recently sheared off of the land, all leaving you to wonder how some of the trees are still hanging on to what remains of the land. A sandbar across from this (river-right as you head towards the cliff) boulder is a nice place to hang out for a period of time. Remember, you are in State Forest, and the chance you will see someone other than another paddler is remote. Enjoy the solitude areas where you can.
A special treat awaits you a bit further downstream; a nice seep waterfall that is a beautiful surprise river-right. This is another nice place to stop and enjoy the surroundings. While I will not recommend climbing up to the waterfall (where it splashes upon the boulders below), to say I have not climbed up there to stand in and around the falls would be a lie. If you chose to do so, please climb softly, carefully, and be sure to “leave no trace”.
As you continue your paddle towards the confluence with the Black River, you will find the Canoe Landing river-right. You will need to slightly enter the Black River to take-out, so you will want to hug Hall’s Creek to the right and take-out right at the confluence.
As mentioned, across the County Road E roadway from Clearwater Dells is the Black River State Forest. A visitor mentioned one time when we were tubing this stretch that “it is like this whole thing is just an extension of your property”. I had never thought of it that way, but there is no development once you pass into the state forest. Morrison Creek is also like this; entirely enveloped in the Black River State Forest.
The Black River flows at a faster rate than Hall’s Creek (depending on water levels). Due to this, Hall’s Creek can sort of “back up” a bit at the confluence. What I mean by this is that the movement of sand out of Hall’s Creek into the Black River gets stymied and backed up a bit because the current in Hall’s Creek is not strong enough to overcome the current of the Black River to push sand into it. I have found that if I try to wade the last 200 yards of Hall’s Creek, that the sand is almost like quicksand and it is quite easy to sink in up to your knees with no real way out without losing a shoe or sandal.
Snakes are often seen at this canoe landing. They enjoy sitting on and around the rocks and boulders that exist. I am not saying you will see two or three or more snakes, but don’t be surprised if you see one. If you are like me, it is not the snake that scares you; it is the surprise that you almost stepped on a snake you did not see. Most snakes in this area are not poisonous, but always treat each snake with its due respect. The snakes are needed to control the mice which, in turn, control the ticks to some degree. We need the snakes.