March 17, 2011

Early Season Paddling Trips

Paddling is the perfect way to experience spring in Wisconsin

Springtime is ideal for paddling in Wisconsin. Water levels are at their highest, so paddling is generally at its best. There are also fewer crowds—on many rivers, it’s not unusual to paddle all day without seeing another paddler, even on weekends. But best of all, paddling in the spring puts you in direct contact with the birds, animals and plants that are just waking up from their winter slumber. It’s an experience unlike any other.


Black River CanoeingWestern Wisconsin Wonderland
The Black River in western Wisconsin is a paddling gem. Running through yellow-pine forests and sandstone banks, the Black River is different than any other Wisconsin River. The dark-stained water, numerous sand bars and occasional islands make the Black River an interesting place to paddle.

The most popular stretch for paddling is the 15 miles above Black River Falls. Downstream from the dam at Black River Falls, you’ll find another 30 or so miles of paddling. Neither stretch is too difficult and the views are outstanding.

On dry ground, you’ll find hiking and mountain biking trails in the Black River State Forest and the Jackson County Forest. Find complete information on Black River Country at

Flambeau RapidsNorthern Wisconsin Rapids
If you’re looking for a spring paddling adventure, head to Rusk County. Paddlers can choose from four different rivers—the Flambeau, Chippewa, Jump and Thornapple. For an exciting trip through multiple sets of rapids, choose the Flambeau River.

The stretch of the Flambeau River from Hervas Camp Landing down to the Big Falls Dam is one that every paddler should experience. You’ll encounter the challenging Cedar Rapids, the dangerous Beaver Dam Rapids (which you should portage) and the relatively serene Pine Island Rapids. It’s a wonderful trip for paddlers looking for some real adventure this spring.

For more information on paddling all four Rusk County rivers, visit

CanoeingCapital Views
Mendota County Park in Middleton is the ideal place to launch a canoe or kayak for a paddling trip on Lake Mendota. The park features shallow water launches made specifically for paddlers. You’ll also find park shelters, bathrooms and shower facilities. It’s an unbeatable set of amenities for paddlers.

Lake Mendota the largest lake in the Madison Chain of Lakes, offers nearly 10,000 acres of open water. Paddlers will be treated to outstanding views of the University of Wisconsin Campus, downtown Madison and the State Capitol. During the spring, Lake Mendota offers excellent fishing for jumbo bluegill and crappie, so bring your fishing rod.

Inland, Middleton offers other spring recreation options, including an award-winning community trail system and the nature trails of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. For more information on all that Middleton has to offer, visit

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