On Labor Day a few friends tried a section of Turtle Creek that we hadn’t explored before – paddling through the Turtle Creek Wildlife Area. We put in at Cty Hwy C and took out at the bridge on Carvers Rock Road (see map). It’s a 6.60 mile paddle, which under normal conditions would take about 2 hours and 2o minutes. It took us almost 3 hours, mostly due to thick weed mats in the water that slowed paddling and large sections that are choked off by water grass (see more about that below).
It is really a beautiful paddle, so different than the sections between Clinton and Shopiere, and Beloit and South Beloit. It is much deeper here, 2 feet avg. and a narrower creek channel and the edges are swampier, with cattails prevalent. There aren’t any houses or any sign of humans from the launch area to ORiley Road launch site. As a matter of fact, ORiley is really the only place you can stop by the shoreline easily and also makes a great takeout point. Any time that you’re tired of getting stuck on the lower portions of the creek, this area will always have plenty of depth.
We saw a deer, some wood ducks, a heron and other flocking birds, we also could see quite a lot of fish swimming in the crystal clear water. I think the fishing in this area would be great.
The weed growth in this section is pretty thick and floating on the top, we had some difficulty paddling through it at times. We also experienced having to make our own path through tall grasses (see pcitures below) that blocked the navigational channel (felt like we were in the everglades!). I took a few samples of the grass and the DNR has helped me identify it as annual wildrice (Zizania aquatica). I’d like to ensure this grass doesn’t make it’s way further downstream, it’s pretty, but really takes over the stream. It seems that you can actually harvest the seeds to eat. Learn more about it here: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/outdoorrecreation/activities/rice.html.
From the DNR Website: Turtle Creek State Wildlife Area is featured in the Southern Savanna Region of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail as a property on which to see yellow, blue-winged and golden warblers, along with eastern meadowlarks, brown thrashers and lark sparrows.
Trip report by Therese Oldenburg