Date: September 4, 2022; Length: 3 miles; Duration: 2 hours
Planning: The Kewaunee River is a smaller river in northeastern Wisconsin that flows southwest until entering Lake Michigan in the town of Kewaunee. Aside from looking at Google Maps, I found an experienced account of someone paddling a lengthier portion of the Kewaunee on the site Miles Paddled. Much was shared about all the logjams to the river upstream of the dam, so I wanted to just do a short section below the dam (County F bridge) to where the river enters the lake.
Shuttle: My intended river route of County F to the confluence took a 4.4 mile shuttle that mostly existed on the Ahnapee State Trail. The trail was convenient and open to people and bikes and helped me take a quicker take out where the trail ran alongside the river.
Paddling: The first mile or so of this section remains narrow and winds a good amount. There are also a handful of spots of riffles to light rapids, which the water could have been higher for less scraping. After this came continuous wide and flat water. This would have been a paddling struggle of itself, but there were strong winds blowing directly the opposite direction of the river. If you didn’t know, you would have thought the river flowed that opposite direction with the waves and current produced in the straight northeast stretches. I struggled through the first of these strong wind straight stretches, but didn’t get far on the second one with stops in padding resulting in quick floating the opposite direction. Knowing that the trail went alongside the river shortly before this point, we floated back there and looked for the best possible spot to take out and get back on the trail.
Observations: A few bridges occurred in the middle of this short section, with a few more after and before the river enters Lake Michigan. Houses were uncommon, but the surroundings became very open when the river widened out after the first bridges. In the first mile of more narrow and winding river I did pass by a couple different small groups of people fishing in the water. I didn’t come across any others on the water and understandably so paddling-wise with how wide and flat the water gets and how windy and unbearable it became.
Reflecting: I went into this river trip on the Kewaunee with the main motivation being to add a new river to ones I’ve paddled. I also liked how the Ahnapee State Trail could be used for a shuttle, but I didn’t expect to experience such a grind a paddling only a few miles. It could have been a completely different experience without the strong winds in my face while trying to paddle but much of this trip would have still been wide and flat. So like the person from Miles Paddled stated, I wouldn’t recommend paddling this river to others.