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Kinni supplies fresh entertainment

April 12, 2007

It’s right in front of our eyes, and its potential to provide students with cheap entertainment, activities and even a release from stress is endless. This natural marvel is the Kinnickinnic River.

The Kinnickinnic, known by many as the “Kinni,” is difficult to miss if you are student at UW-River Falls. The south fork of the river, which is considered a feeder creek, flows through the south end of campus.

South Fork Suites, the relatively new residence establishment on the east end of campus, is named after this section of the river.

The Kinni begins north of Interstate 94 in St. Croix County, fed by natural springs. Along its path, smaller tributary creeks including Parker Creek, Kelly Creek and Rocky Branch feed the Kinni.

The river is generally divided into two sections, known as the “upper” and “lower” Kinnickinnic. The upper portion begins northeast of River Falls and flows mainly through pasture and prairie land. The lower portion begins below Glen Park, a recreation area located on Park Street in River Falls, and flows through what is known as the “Kinnickinnic Canyon.”

According to the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau Web site, “The scenery is outstanding on this stretch of river with soaring cliffs, towering pines, and swift water. As you venture further down the river from the city, springs and weeping cliffs create a vibrant green carpet of ferns, mosses and wildflowers in an almost fairly-like landscape.”

The river offers a variety of local opportunities for community members and students at UWRF to get out and enjoy the outdoors, while escaping the stresses of everyday life. Much of the river is within walking distance from campus. Activities include fishing, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, hiking, biking and nature watching.

Thanks to conservation efforts by groups such as the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, the water of the Kinni is clean, clear and cold. Those factors enable the river to be classified as a class I trout stream, identified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as “high-quality trout waters that have sufficient natural reproduction to sustain populations of wild trout, at or near carry capacity.”

Thousands of trout inhabit the waters of the Kinni, but only two species are present – brook and brown trout. Trout are known for their finicky feeding habits and elusive nature, but they are by no means impossible to catch.

There are different ways to fish for trout, including the use of artificial flies and spinners, or even live bait such as worms. Regulations can be found through the DNR, and should be consulted prior to fishing.

Sophomore Tom Carlson is an avid outdoorsman who appreciates what the Kinni has to offer.

“It’s nice to get out there and get away from the pressures of school,” Carlson said. “It’s pretty good fishing. Some people consider the Kinnickinnic to be some of the best trout fishing in the Midwest and perhaps in the country.”

Fishing licenses can be purchased in town at the Holiday gas station, 302 S. Main St., or Lund’s Hardware, 201 S. Main St. Lund’s also provides one of the largest selections of trout fishing gear near River Falls.

There are numerous trails along the river, including on campus at UWRF and several other locations such as Glen Park. The trails can be used to walk, hike, run, rollerblade or bicycle. They also provide the opportunity to sit down and gather some fresh air, while simply taking in the beauty of the river and its surroundings.

“You just get out there and see all the beauty and the wildlife out there,” Carlson said.

Kinni Creek Outfitters, a small business located at 545 N. Main St., is a bed and breakfast “micro resort,” but they also provide various adventure packages for any season. They offer special rates for UWRF students.

Paige Olson, a long-time lover of the outdoors and an employee at Kinni Creek, shared some information about the business via e-mail.

“We offer cabin or bed and breakfast rental for college parents at a discount, they just need to present their student’s ID and introduce us to their student,” Olson said. “On the outfitter side, we offer fly fishing schools, fly fishing equipment, kayak rental and sales and trips on the Kinni with shuttle service.”

On the kayak and canoe trips, you have the option of traveling either the upper or lower Kinni. The trips range from 45 minutes to three hours, depending on what you choose.

“During the school year, we offer a ‘Hooky Special’ for college students with rentals at a discount for Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. launches,” Olson said.

Students looking for something to do or looking to relieve the stresses of life, they need not look too far – the Kinnickinnic River awaits, providing an outlet for exploration, relaxation and enjoyment.

For more information about the Kinni, including a map of public access points, visit the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust Web site at http://kinniriver.org/.