My final stop today was in Brule, Wisconsin, and the goal was to settle a score and make it to Shale Falls where I had failed in the past. Knowing now there are no formal trails and you just have to bushwhack towards the river, I was as ready as I’d ever be. Will I have enough sunlight?
Parking is found at Drew’s Landing, a small parking area on Loveland Road which runs parallel to the Bois Brule River on the east side. A large DNR sign board can be found here with maps and area information.
There are many rapids detailed on the map, and of course Shale Falls is labeled clearly and very nearby. Notice there are many other parking spots to the northwest – this is a popular place to launch kayaks below the lamprey barrier and dam.
You can also check the classification of the rapids along the river (i.e. class 1 through 5, 1 being smallest and 5 being extreme whitewater). Shale Falls is a Class I rapids.
On my previous visit I tried to hike the road which loops very far up & around to the dam and cut back. That is a fools errand and adds a huge amount of distance. Today’s approach was much clearer: head west to the river and stop caring what’s in the way.
Right from the parking area you can find some small deer and human trails from past visitors. This can sometimes be a very densely packed forest and you’ll have to wriggle between the trees. I’d reckon spring and fall would be ideal times to visit because if those trunks were covered in leaves you’d never see the way 10 feet in front of you.
As I followed these old narrow trails the best I could, it popped back out of the woods for a brief time and cut across the grassy swampland just to the north. This only lasts for a few hundred yards so enjoy the scenery while you have it!
Much of the remaining hike is through dense woods where no trails exist at all. There are some signs of deer hunting activity back here and maybe some old logging marks on trees but not much else. Follow your ears to the river. Once you are close, you will see a pronounced elevation drop in the terrain like this photo. Make your way down but take your time as there are many down branches and it’s easy to trip and fall. No cell signal back here.
Once you reach the river, pick your way through the brush until you can get a clearer view.
Here are some small rapids just below the falls. The river seems relatively shallow in the eddy here, enough where you could probably wade. This area is well-known for fantastic trout fishing opportunities.
Upstream about 100-200 yards we finally reach Shale Falls. The majority of the feature is on the other side of the river, but it’s easy to see this is a shelf-type formation and the elevation drop is maybe a couple feet. Water levels seem fairly average to me so this is about what you’ll see if you visit.
For the effort required all I can say is that I’m glad I made it and checked it off the list but probably won’t be returning anytime soon. From here, I drove all the way westward to Pattison State Park and camped for the night because they have working showers and I stink something awful. Dinner at Taco John’s on the way really hit the spot too!
Here’s a short video of the hike to the falls. Not the most enjoyable hike or largest falls, but glad I finished the task.
Here’s the hiking path for today’s adventure. I came in from the north on the approach route, and just to see if I could find anything different I tried from the south on the return. Mostly everything is the same here – dense woods. Choose whatever route makes it work for you.
Total distance is only 1.5 miles and elevation change is only about 100 feet (most of it being nearest the river). Not a difficult hike in regards to distance or heights, just slow moving making your way through the forest.Lat = 46.6907997 , Long = -91.6003494 -- Show at Google Maps