Article: Where to canoe & kayak in Wisconsin | Kayaking at North Lakeland Discovery Center Manitowish Waters WI

Where to canoe & kayak in Wisconsin

There’s still time to hit the water this summer! Here are a few great options for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding across the Dairy State.

Northern Wisconsin

The Northwoods of Wisconsin are home to one of the largest concentrations of lakes on the planet, so it’s no surprise that there are some truly fantastic waterways to explore via canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard. The Wisconsin River gets its start at Lac Vieux Desert in northern Vilas County, and paddlers will find miles of scenic waters to explore. In Boulder Junction, canoers and kayakers can discover great paddling along the Manitowish River, which starts at High Lake and flows west for more than 40 miles before it reaches the Turtle Flambeau Flowage.

In western Oneida County, the Willow Flowage and the Tomahawk River offer outstanding opportunities for scenic paddling throughout the Northwoods. The Willow Flowage spans 6,300 acres and boasts more than 100 islands and lots of beautiful backwaters to explore, and canoers and kayakers can paddle the Tomahawk River north and south of the flowage. The Minocqua Area is home to more than 2,300 lakes—including the iconic Minocqua Chain of Lakes—and offers some outstanding paddling options in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.

Central Wisconsin

Paddlers will find lots of opportunities for a fun day on the water along the shores of Lake Michigan in eastern Wisconsin, but there are also some great options for paddling inland, too. The Twin Rivers Water Trail in Two Rivers is a scenic route that offers relaxing canoeing and kayaking along the East Twin River and West Twin River.
Lake Joanis, located in Stevens Point’s beautiful Schmeeckle Reserve, is a great spot for beginners or those looking for a more serene paddling trip, as the lake’s calm waters and ban on motorboats means a relaxing day on the water.

Southern Wisconsin

Take a trip through Wisconsin’s largest city as you canoe, kayak, or paddleboard along the Milwaukee River, taking in the sights throughout downtown and the historic Third Ward. If you want to explore the Upper Milwaukee River, head north to West Bend and enjoy the views of the city’s downtown and attractions like the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Madison’s lakes offer lots of paddling opportunities—canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards can be rented at UW-Madison’s Memorial Union and Madison Boats offers rentals on Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, and Lake Wingra.

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