Stand Up Paddle board is my favorite method of paddling the waterways in Madison and surrounding areas. There are quite a few places to adventure out alone if you are up for it! I recently purchased an old solo canoe that floats pretty nicely for the days that I want our puppy to join in, or if it’s a little too brisk for the paddle board. Here are a few favorite places I have paddled in Madison and the outskirts.
Bike and Canoe! Want to do a river trip with a friend but don’t want to take 2 cars? Throw your bike in the canoe and find a river that follows a convenient bike route back to the car. Drop off your canoe at the landing. Drive your car (with bike loaded up) to the end point. Bike back to the landing. Put your bike in the canoe and paddle to the car! It’s easier than you’d think. We’ve done it a few times and with a puppy!
I enjoy this paddle a lot. The boat ramp (pink dot) on the map is an easy put in and is rarely crowded. Cherokee is full of bird wildlife, lily pads and so much more! The Yahara River flows through the Marsh so if you’d like to paddle to Lake Mendota, it’s pretty easy. It’s a marsh, so not the best swimming until you get to the lake. For an added bonus, you can always paddle to the Nau-ti-gal for lunch, dinner or a quick cocktail.
This paddle is perfect solo or with a friend. It’s an easy paddle downstream and you will see some wildlife. I did this trip earlier this fall and I viewed a Foe and her Fawn, a Beaver, several birds and a Blue Heron. It’s a beautiful and quiet paddle.
This is a gorgeous place to paddle! The water is so clean and clear it’s a place you’ll not want to leave. Gorgeous views all around, excellent swimming, boating, hiking and there’s a boat rental and snack shop that also serves beer! Bring your boat or rent one and spend the night here at one of their amazing campsites. Be sure to reserve your site in advance, it fills up fast.
There are several routes and lengths to travel the Wisconsin. I included the link with the most routes and you look further into the route via Google. We like to do a 2 day paddle with friends every year. We camp on a sandbar, play bocce ball and frisbee along the way and just have fun in the sand. The Wisconsin River can carry some strong currents, don’t take it for granted. Have fun but be safe. Remember: No Glass. Not even a pickle jar.
The Bark River
I love this quiet river. It’s not the clearest river but I have always been amazed by the amount of bird life and tranquility this river provides me. You can visit 2 Rivers Bicycle for route options and to rent a kayak/canoe. I like to paddle the route from Burnt Village Park to Fort Atkinson. This route is perfect for the bike/Canoe with a friend or just have 2 Rivers Cycle shuttle you. There is great food and shops to explore in Fort Atkinson.
I did this paddle recently on a mission to discover something new to me. I found this paddle to be super peaceful. I put in at the boat landing and paddled up the creek east until I couldn’t go too much farther. Then I headed back, paddled around the lake a bit and headed home. It was very pretty, peaceful and I enjoyed its curves very much. There’s nothing too exciting about this place but I enjoyed the quiet and quaint aspects.
I got up before the sun this summer with 2 friends and we paddled out for the sunrise on our paddle boards. We witnessed, up close, the start of the Ironman with the swimmers. It was amazing and something I highly recommend. We put in at Yahara Place Park and paddled down to the terrace. It was fantastic.
The drive to this river from Madison is gorgeous and it’s a great trip to share with a friend, in one car. As I did with my husband, we threw our bikes and our canoe in the car and headed out of Madison. We arrived at the put in and dropped off our canoe and gear. We drove to the end and biked up the Cheese County Trail to our canoe. It’s the perfect adventure. We threw our bikes in the canoe and paddled down this quiet river with history of old rail bridges and simply true Wisconsin. Put in at Hwy G Bridge near Calamine. Paddle down river to Black Bridge Park Boat Landing.
Looking for more ideas statewide? Be sure to check out these sites and books!
From the desk of: Rachel Whaley