Among my YouTube videos about northwest Wisconsin lakes, the most popular have been those that feature boating channels between certain lakes. Whether you’re paddling, pontooning, or powerboating, it’s fun to get a sneak preview so you know what to expect. And if you’re looking for a home or cabin on one of those lakes, you’ll want the answer to this important question: “Can I really get there from here?”
That’s especially true for the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, which includes Upper Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire, Lower Eau Claire, and also nearby lakes like Bony, Birch, and Robinson. To help you understand the big picture, here’s an overview map. After the map, you’ll find brief descriptions and links to the corresponding YouTube videos.
1. Robinson Lake to Birch Lake. Navigable by canoes, kayaks, and most pontoons or speedboats. No bridges to go under. Video here.
- Birch Lake to Upper Eau Claire. Navigable by canoes, kayaks, and most pontoons or speedboats. Bridge at Lake Road, just before entering Upper Eau Claire. Video here.
- Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire. Navigable by canoes, kayaks, and medium-sized fishing boats or speedboats. Bridge at Highway 27. Video here.
- Middle Eau Claire to Lower Eau Claire. This connection includes a lock and dam that can handle canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats. Paddlers may find it quicker to just portage up and over South Shore road. Above this point, the river is navigable by canoes, kayaks, and most pontoons or speedboats—pretty much anything that can get under the bridge at River Road. Below here, the river is shallower and faster—but still suitable for canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats. Video here.
- *Upper Eau Claire to Middle Eau Claire. This narrow, rocky passage gets an asterisk because it’s only navigable by canoe or kayak. Even then, it’s most feasible as a one-way downstream trip. Begins at outlet dam; portage is on private land. Scroll down for photos. The first two are from just above the outlet dam; the next three are from the bridge at Outlet Bay Road.
Finally, a word of caution: Conditions and water levels can change. Some boats are wider, taller, or draw more water. To prevent shoreline erosion, all of these routes are designated no-wake zones. Keep your speed down and proceed with caution.