These are a few of my favorite things

by Sherri ~ August 13th, 2009. Filed under: Places to Paddle.

I’m happy to say that this has been a successful first season for SherriKayaks, and it’s not over yet!  The down side to that is that I run out of time to get everything done that I would like to do.  Case in point, my blog doesn’t get updated as often as it should.  I get a lot of questions from students and participants on trips asking about my favorite places to paddle.  Honestly, nothing tops the places I’ve paddled in Alaska, but since I don’t get to paddle there very often, I will limit my discussion to some of the more local spots that I enjoy.

I spend a lot of time on Lake Michigan along the shores of Milwaukee.  I love to paddle here, but I will admit that it is probably not quite as scenic as Door County.  (We need some islands off shore in Milwaukee.)  I really enjoy paddling just about anywhere on the Bay side or the Lake side of Door county.  For a camping trip, you can’t beat a trip to Rock Island by Kayak.  You can also kayak camp in Newport State Park.  From there you can paddle over to Rowley’s Bay and pick up some pecan sticky buns at Grandma’s Swedish Bakery.  About 15 years ago, my husband and I did just that.  It was pretty funny to see the looks we got when my husband walked into the bakery wearing his wet suit.

Closer to home, I highly recommend the stretch of the Illinois Fox River from Mukwonago to Waterford.  You can’t believe how few houses and signs of civilization you will see in the 14 miles of paddling!  There are no rapids and access is good.  It is easily doable by beginners.  You can also put in on the Mukwonago River in Mukwonago for a little variety.

If you don’t have a way to set up a shuttle, there are some nice local lake trips suitable for recreational kayaks.  I would suggest Upper and Lower Nemahbin, Lower Nashotah, and the small section of the Bark River from Upper Nemahbin heading upstream toward Lake Nagawicka.  There are three public access locations, one free.  You can stop at a bar/restaurant right on the water for a lunch break.  There are plenty of shallow areas where you can get out and take a quick swim if you get too warm, and the water is so clear that you can watch the fish under your kayak!  If you’re a sea kayaker, Upper Nemahbin is a great location to practice skills in warm water.  Another fun lake trip is the Eagle Springs/Lulu Lake option.  It’s a good idea to go on a weekday if you can, or make sure you get to the boat launch early as it can be very busy on warm summer weekends.  You can look for birds, frogs, and turtles especially in the channel that connects the two lakes.  On the west side of Lulu Lake, there is a very narrow, twisting stream that is fun to explore.  I’ve done it in an 18′ sea kayak, but it is a lot easier in a shorter recreational kayak.  The stream is located on the Nature Conservancy property and has many beautiful flowers and plants to look at.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite trips is the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee.  Even though the water may not always look the most appealing, I find it so interesting to look at the city from the water.  Did you know that the bridge houses are sporting jewelry this summer?  Have you seen the decorations on a balcony made of old copper jello molds?  I saw a beautiful fish jump 2 feet out of the water this morning while on the river!  If you haven’t paddled the Milwaukee River at least once, you owe it to yourself.  Better still, take someone along who knows some of the history of the buildings and areas along the river.  You may be missing a lot and not know it.

I have a lot of other places to tell you about, but that’s all the time I have for now.  You know, it occurs to me that I enjoy paddling anywhere that there is water.  As they say, even a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work.  Lucky for me, my good days at work are on the water!


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