Boat launch and park signage. Red Cedar Lake

Red Cedar Lake – 2023 Season Start

Pickleball has been competing for the “best weather days,” so after our games one afternoon, we chose a close location to get on the water. Red Cedar Lake is an an unusual season-start for us.


Usually our first paddle is Mirror Lake but May was marching on, and we hadn’t found a good day to go out there. The task of the first paddle is to make sure we have our act together as far as what is in the car and how we do things. We only made a few minor mistakes – primarily, we forgot the point-and-shoot camera.

Red Cedar Lake (Cambridge, WI) was only 25 minutes from the McFarland pickleball courts. Last time we did this paddle in 2018, there were so many lily pads we felt like we were dragging the boat; so getting on the lake early in the season is key. We were quite happy with the lake being clear of vegetation!

One minor glitch occurred on the way to the launch: we set the GPS to “Red Cedar Lake” and proceeded to follow the turn-by-turn instructions. It took us to an unfamiliar road, but we thought it might lead to an alternate access to the lake. Nope – we wound up on a narrow road ending in a unpaved driveway,  probably residential and absolutely no lake access. We backtracked out of there as soon as we realized we were probably trespassing. There were no signs warning us off, though. The residents most likely are used to seeing cars carrying canoes or kayaks turning around in their driveway. In the photos below, there is a map of where the GPS took us.

The lake is quite big and, other than canoeing or kayaking, we don’t really understand how people recreate on it. One of our non-boater friends got all starry eyed when we told her where we were going. We didn’t see any trails… just the nice boat access parking lot. We’ll have to follow up on how she got to be friends with Red Cedar Lake.

The Paddle

Motorboats are not allowed on Red Cedar Lake – a big point in it’s favor. We paddled to the far “lobe” of the lake. It was calm, pretty and uneventful. At our turn-around point there was a deer standing there as if waiting for us! That is the only deer we saw.

Wildlife: Some white birds with reddish-brown heads – maybe tundra swans? Lots of turtles at the put-in, heron, geese, ducks, dragonflies, and small fish.

Approximately a 2-hour paddle.