Date: July 10, 2021; Length: 7.5 miles; Duration: 4 hours 15 min
Planning: The Oconomowoc River is a small river in southeastern Wisconsin that flows southwest through a handful of lakes before entering the Rock River. Mike Svob has one trip of the Oconomowoc in his book Paddling Southern Wisconsin, which I used for a trip the year before. This time around, I planned to paddle an upstream 7.5-mile section from county K bridge to Fowler park, which passes through two lakes and two easy to portage dams.
Paddling: The put in at the county K bridge started rough with some shallow rock beds, but that was the last of the water level issues. The hardest aspect of paddling after that point became crossing the seemingly never ending Okauchee lake, with a wind not helping. Following this lake came the first dam and easy portage and a much shorter partial Oconomowoc lake crossing and another dam and easy portage. With the lakes out of the way, the remaining mile or so consisted of much less of a workout of river paddling until coming to the takeout at Fowler lake park.
Observations: The river portions of this section of the Oconomowoc and connecting lakes was very clear and showing vegetation and fish. Other wildlife included ducks, geese, a blue heron, and beaver. Other people were in abundance, from other paddlers and lake boaters to those on land by their homes. Surroundings consisted of a mix of marshy long grass, trees, houses, especially on the lakes. Several bridges also occurred on the river portions as well as two dams that were easy and labeled portages for the popular use that they get.
Reflecting: This is a cool and popular 7.5-mile section of Oconomowoc river and much more so the connecting Okauchee and Oconomowoc lakes. It’s not for those seeking purely natural surroundings and solitude, but the waters are nice and clean, with nice natural scenery still around, and great and easy access points available. And you can really go either direction or make whatever experience you want of these connecting lakes.