Devils Lake (First and probably last time)

Most residents in Wisconsin have a fond enthusiasm for Devils Lake State Park. Maybe since we didn’t grow up here in the dairy state we don’t have the same dreamy associations. So to start getting to know this area a bit, we decided to paddle the circumference of the lake. The summer of 2018 was a time of flooding and high water that made many of our lovely rivers inadvisable to be upon.

One thing you will love – no gas motor boats are allowed! Continue reading Devils Lake (First and probably last time)

Red Cedar Lake 2018 (first time)

This lake is probably quite pretty, but we really couldn’t see much of the water surface. We got to it too late in the season – it was just packed with vegetation. The canoe did ok in this thick plant material, but kayak paddles would probably get tangled due to the different pattern of paddle strokes. We heard about Red Cedar Lake in one of the paddling books, and it sounded idyllic; we guess they must have gone in the spring. We probably will not try again this year.
Continue reading Red Cedar Lake 2018 (first time)

Skokie Lagoons (First time!)

Deb’s sister-in-law declared a goal to paddle the Skokie Lagoons which is north of Chicago. Our friends Jeanne and Katia live close by and the weekend we were driving through we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, my sister-in-law could not join us but we are determined to help her achieve this achievable goal. Continue reading Skokie Lagoons (First time!)

Wingra Creek on the Fourth of July

Wingra Creek is a pleasant urban paddle in Madison. We usually try it once a year. If the water is too high, it can be difficult to get through the first railroad bridge; the water is too strong and fast and there is always deadfall to contend with. Sometimes the water is too low and the boat hits the creek bottom which causes an abandoned trip. The waterway can also suffer from invasive plants and algae making the experience extremely unpleasant. This year we were hoping that it would be “just right.” To be sure of our hunch, we Continue reading Wingra Creek on the Fourth of July

Illinois Fox River at Big Bend, WI

This trip is a segment of Illinois Fox River 1 in Mike Svob’s book.
Flow at Waukesha gauge 05543830: 101 csf (median for this date 43csf)
Left at 4pm. 1.5 hour drive from Madison to Big Bend Village Park which has a nice concrete boat ramp and plenty of parking.
1 hour to unload boats, find bathroom. Floyd E Swayze Memorial Center(Lions Club) is next to the landing, but it is unclear if it is public or private. Mobil Gas Station is 0.5 miles.
In water 6:20. Turned around just past golf course, approx 2 mi from put-in. Slow current, no blockages or grounding. Water clear but lots of duckweed.
Saw ducks and swallows-not much else. Heard cranes. Pretty and quiet. Encountered family of kids and dad and fishing boat. Very cloudy. Dewpoint 72. Out at 8 o’clock in darkness.

with J&K.

Illinois and Michigan Canal (Illinois)


Setting: We picked this location because it was close to the Farnsworth House, which we toured beforehand, and Oswego, where we saw a program of short films (Luna Fest) after canoeing. It was a cloudy, cool, breezy day in the 60’s.

Water level: none available (Paddling Illinois book says there is always enough water)

Put-in: 4:15 pm at a nice sandy landing with a large parking lot at Bridge St. access near Channahon State Park in Channahon, IL.

The paddle: Downstream approx 2 mi (45 min) where we could see a marina to our left on the DesPlaines River which runs very close to the canal.  A bike trail, the old tow path, runs along the canal. The canal was a little trashy at the start. The water was clearer at the start than farther downstream. Current was minimal. The surroundings were fairly isolated except for a few houses, one of which had a herd of goats. Our turnaround point was at the site of a scenic wooded bluff.

Take-out: 6:15 pm

Wildlife: doe and faun drinking at the edge of the canal and 2 other adult deer, kingfishers, orange and black bird (?oriole), muskrats, goats.

Other possible put-ins in the area: There is a nice sandy landing at Silver Springs State Park in a lake off the Fox River. The water was a clear blue-green color like a glacial lake. There is another (concrete) landing nearby on the river bank. We heard good reports on the canoeing, but there might be too much current to paddle upstream (or too shallow). We also saw a nice picnic area in the park across from the Farnsworth House, which is downstream from the canoe landings.

 

Kickapoo River (not the crazy section)

This was a Saturday, and we really don’t enjoy the upper section of the Kickapoo with the raucous weekend boaters. We sought out a lower section, not as popular which is fine with us. This trip is a section of Kickapoo River 5 in Paddling Southern Wisconsin.

Flow at Kickapoo River Steuben gauge 05410490: 425 cfs (median ~450 cfs)

Put-in/take-out: Highway 60 landing about 300 feet west of Highway 131. This has a concrete ramp and a nice parking lot. No bathrooms.

The trip: We left Madison at 12:30 and were on the water at 2:45, turned around at 5:00, out at 6:00. M recalls the upstream paddle as difficult and tiring (as evidenced by 2 hr 15 min upstream, 1 hr downstream)

Wildlife: kingfisher, plover, goldfinch, cardinal, muskrat, frogs

We scouted out other landings after the paddle. Another landing on Highway 60 about 1 mile before the Wisconsin River looks good.  Plum Creek Canoe Landing on Plum Creek Road was washed out when we were there.