Fox River - Wisconsin

Date: August 9, 2020; Length: 3.5 miles; Duration: 1 hours 30 min

Put In: Wrightstown Boat Launch

Parking lot with a park nearby if no open spots. A dock available for easy access as well as rocks off the river.

Takeout: Lost Dauphin Rd (Apple Creek)

No designated landing but there are flat rocks that you can take out at near the bridge. This leads to a walk through some trees and brush back up to the bridge though.

Paddling Experience = 2/5

Just paddling this short section of the Fox is definitely not worthwhile. It's just too big and wide and can be crawling with motored boats. What I enjoyed more was paddling up Plum creek to start and Apple creek to end.

Natural Scenery = 2/5

There isn't much scenery to the Fox River part, with it being in a town with a big bridge and then running along it houses and the other side open road leading to houses. But the brief portions of Plum and Apple creeks are more intimate and less developed for better scenery.

Solitude = 2/5

The Fox River part lacks solitude while the connecting Plum and Apple creeks offer the opposite. But I spent more time paddling the Fox, therefore the low rating.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: Less than 1 foot per mile.
Experience Paddling at this Water Level:
Paddling at this water level varied greatly. This was due to the route I took, paddling up and back down some of Plum creek then taking the Fox River up to Apple creek and paddling up that to the bridge. This section of the Fox is wide, deep, and heavily boated which will be the case no matter the level, while the creeks gave the opposite experience.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: Green Bay gauge, located just upriver of the mouth to the bay and about 20 miles downriver of the put in to this section):

  • USGS Number =040851385
  • Discharge Rate = 2500 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 582.3 ft

Overall Experience

The Fox is a river that has viable options for paddling, but mostly in the stretch before it reaches Lake Winnebago. Mike Svob details two possible trips and other access point options in that stretch in his Paddling Southern Wisconsin book. I chose to look farther upriver and after the lake for nostalgia reasons most of all. My grandparents used to own a house off the Fox River in Wrightstown, so I intended to paddle by it. Knowing this spot was in a 7-mile section of the river between big dams, I figured I’d just paddle that, but that’s easier said than done. Access points were limited, so that plan changed. From there I decided I’d start at the Wrightstown boat launch, but immediately paddle up whatever I could of Plum creek before turning around and taking the Fox a couple miles to where the Apple creek comes in. It was a weird route of a river trip, but one that would offer up some different paddling experiences in such a short stretch of river.
So when the day came, I looked to park at Wrightstown boat launch but unfortunately every parking spot was taken, with lots of attached empty trailers giving me a glimpse of what’s to come on this portion of the Fox. Just up the road though was another park with plenty of parking that I ended up parking at. It was a short walk with my backpack to the boat launch, where I set up under a tree working at inflating my packraft and strapping my backpack to it. From here I had easy put in options of an actual dock or some rocks off the water. Once on the Fox I immediately took a right where the Plum creek comes in. I started paddling up Plum creek and must have gotten a solid half mile up it before it became too shallow to continue on as I started scraping on rocks. It was nice to experience the smaller creek and its more intimate surroundings, but the water remained a muddy light brown throughout. Once I got back to the Fox, I was welcomed with the sight of plenty of boats passing by in this wide and deep section of river. So I hugged the edge and worked my way a little upriver before cutting across to pass by a familiar site. Now on the left side of the river, I stayed on that edge paddling for a good hour, slowly passing by the open river and surroundings. The river was consistently wide, with a light brown color and okay clarity to it. Deciduous trees lined the west bank I paddled, with some homes just off it in there, while the other side remained fairly open showing road and houses off the river. River activity was prevalent but not the type you’d look for in a paddling experience. Motored boats and jet skis zipped up down this part of the Fox but they kept a safe distance. Understandably so I was the only paddler out there. Eventually I came to where Apple creek comes in on the left. I took the left and paddled up the creek passing the Lost Dauphin road bridge. Not much further I came to a stop with the creek running too shallow or blocked by rocks, so I turned back and decided to take out at the bridge I passed.
The takeout itself went smooth with some flat rocks making for an easy transition out of the water and then deflating and packing away my packraft. Getting back up to the bridge was the challenging part, having to make my own path walking through some dense trees and brush. But once I got up to the bridge, I was left with an easy hour long walk back to my car. Once there, my Plum to Fox to Apple creek and river trip was complete. It was good to experience the polar opposites offered in a familiar area and water, but if I come back to paddling on the Fox River it will be on a section before Lake Winnebago, as this section of the Fox was definitely not meant for paddlers.