Mukwonago River - Wisconsin

Date: April 15, 2023; Length: 5.5 miles; Duration: 2 hours 25 min

Put In: Rainbow Springs Bridge

Parking lot with a gate across the road with the bridge in sight.  Cleared access spot on the downstream left side of the bridge.

Takeout: County I Bridge

Extra space for side of the road parking on both sides just south of the bridge.  Nice access spot on the upstream right side of the bridge.

Paddling Experience = 2/5

The paddling was often interrupted in the first half of this trip.  Endless blockages occurred making for plenty of scooting and pushing through, hoisting up and over, and full on portaging.  About the halfway point of Beulah road bridge marked a change in the river where it became plenty wide and clear enough for easy paddling the rest of the way to the takeout.

Natural Scenery = 3/5

This section of the Mukwonago has plenty of natural surroundings both on the banks and blocking the river at endless times before coming to Beulah road bridge.  It opens up more here to the takeout with not much for houses the whole way and only a few bridges total.

Solitude = 4/5

There is a reason no one else was seen paddling the first half of this section of the Mukwonago river.  The endless blockages does not make for the most enjoyable paddling experience.  But with that comes plenty of solitude on a narrow river without much for development in sight.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: Flatwater
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: 
The water level could have been a little higher for a few shallow sandy spots in the first half of this trip that I had to walk.  A few blockages could be easier to get by with some more water as well.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: Gauge located in Muwkonago a few miles downstream of this trip's takeout just beyond Lower Phantom Lake.):

  • USGS Number = 05544200
  • Discharge Rate = 43.5 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 2.37 ft

Overall Experience

Planning: The Mukwonago River is a small river located in southeastern Wisconsin.  The 5.5-mile section of the river comes from both Eagle Spring Lake 22 and Rainbow Springs Lake.  Lower Phantom Lake follows the takeout at county I bridge, with the river flowing into the Illinois Fox river a few miles later.  The 5.5-mile section I chose has been paddled before from those at Wisconsin River Trips so I knew it was possible, but what I didn't realize was the extent of the blockages present between the put in and around Beulah road bridge.

Shuttle: There is an easy 3-mile shuttle for this river trip along County road LO which I hiked with my packed packraft.  My put in off Rainbow Springs bridge occurred just beyond a gate blocking vehicle traffic.

Paddling: Actual paddling may have happened less in the first half of this trip compared to the time spent scooting and pushing through, hoisting up and over, or portaging around endless blockages.  The river split a few different times early on as well, making it difficult to tell the best navigable route to take with the extra blockages.  Beulah road bridge marked a major change in the paddling experience where the water then became and remained wider, deeper, and clear of blockages making for a much more pleasant end to this trip.

Observations: This 5.5-mile section of the Mukwonago feels secluded off on its own for the first half and opens up from Beulah to the takeout at County I bridge.  Only a few houses were spotted in both halves of this trip as well one smaller bridge occurring just before Beulah.  Two other kayakers were about to put in right behind me, who may have been heading upstream to one of the connected lakes.  Wildlife included some geese, ducks, a blue heron, a couple painted turtles, a muskrat swimming, and about a dozen turkeys up on the bank at one point.

Reflecting: I am glad to have done this short section of the Mukwonago River but have no interest in dealing with all those blockages again in the first half of it before Beulah bridge.  From Beulah to County I or even beyond to Lower Phantom Lake is more of the appealing part to the Mukwonago River which I would recommend to others.