Colored Sands to the Pecatonica

Carol and Dave Aslesen reported on their canoe trip down the Sugar River on June 16, 2014. There's no mention of paddle splash fights or falling in... but then there are no pictures of them on the river! 

A Day on the River with Carol and Dave

Dave and I canoed the Sugar River route Monday evening on the 16th of June—putting in at Colored Sands preserve and getting out at the confluence with the Pecatonica. I wanted to give a little report while it was still fresh in my mind.

Putting in the Canoe

The trail from the Colored Sands parking lot to the river is about 60 yards through the woods, so you have to portage your canoe. We took the wrong trail initially–an asphalt path right off the parking lot... and we ended up in a mosquito and poison ivy-infested swamp!! Then we went back to the parking lot and saw the canoe sign—it was on the south end of the parking lot. From there, it was a ten-minute paddle down to the Yale Bridge Road boat put in. The reason we put in at Colored Sands was so we could see the sand bluffs. We did see them, and decided that it really was not worth the hassle of the portage. We would recommend putting in at Yale Bridge road, which is a very nice access area with easier access to the river! You miss the sand bluff, but there is actually a more striking sand bluff to be seen further down river, as you go past the Sugar River Forest Preserve. There were a number of places with downed trees where someone had done cutting to ensure open access, but just barely open. To us, the Sugar River seemed to be wider down in Illinois than up here near Brodhead.

Nice Features of the Trip

On a positive note, there is not a lot of development to be seen. You do go past the Sugar Shores RV campground, but that is the most development that you see. There were lots of birds both seen and heard. We saw an eagle, cardinal, herons, woodpeckers, and heard woodpeckers and owls, to name a few. We were impressed with several large sycamore trees along the river—not a species we see up here, and some large swamp white oak (I believe that's what Dave called them.) I am not sure if this is a nice feature or not—there are quarter mile markers all along the river—mile 0 is the confluence. You know how far you have to go, but on the other hand, it's a bit distracting.

Things to Note

The river is quite shallow in a number of places, I would guess 2 feet deep. Dave and I both wondered if this route could be difficult in September, if we have a dry fall and the water levels drop.

Trip Time

The shuttle time between the start and end points is probably less than 10 minutes one way, so not over 20 minutes all together. If you start at Yale Bridge Road, this canoe trip can easily be done in 2 1/2 hours. This includes time for a stop. Stopping at the Sugar River Forest Preserve is an option, in addition to sandbars along the way. The start point is only 15 miles south of Orfordville, but I allowed a half hour to get there. 

Final Thoughts

This would be a great trip to take a group on. I would like to hear from someone who has paddled this in September—does it get too shallow? Well, guess that's it for now.  We would be happy to canoe again--in this area or to check out other areas. Stay tuned! 

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