Oconomowoc River - Wisconsin

Date: July 9, 2022; Length: 3 miles; Duration: 1 hour 45 min

Put In: Loew Lake Trail Bridge

Nice bridge with open access spots on both upstream sides. It is a short horse trail with parking lots on both the north and south side of the trail.

Takeout: County Line Rd Landing

Side of the road parking with a pull out lot leading down to a landing area on the upstream right side for easy unloading and loading of watercraft.

Paddling Experience = 4/5

The water is flat but plenty deep enough and winds a good deal making for a nice and short paddling experience.

Natural Scenery = 4/5

This short section of the Oconomowoc is absent of bridges and houses and has banks of grass and trees further off often on the right side where the ice age trail runs.

Accessibility = 4/5

The takeout is a great access option and a popular one. The trail bridge is the first put in option, which worked great for us hiking with the packrafts. Others typically paddle up from County Line before eventually turning around and coming back.

Gradient & Water Level

Gradient: Flatwater
Experience Paddling at this Water Level: 
The water level was great. It stayed deep enough for paddling without issues the whole way.

Gauge Information

Here is information on stream gauge readings around the date of this paddle (Note: There is no gauge for the Oconomowoc River. This gauge is for the Bark River, a nearby and similar river, that is used in place.):

  • USGS Number = 05426067
  • Discharge Rate = 20 CFS
  • Gauge Height = 12.44 ft

Overall Experience

Planning: The Oconomowoc River is a small river located in southeastern Wisconsin that flows southwest before merging into the Rock River. Mike Svob has one trip of this river in his book Paddling Southern Wisconsin, which I paddled a portion of a few years ago. This year I was looking to paddle a section farther upstream and found this 3 mile route starting out at the Loew Lake trail bridge and ending at the County Line road landing.

Shuttle: The shuttle to this 3-mile section of river is 3.7 miles of mostly Ice Age trail making for an ideal hike of a shuttle with our packed packrafts. The only downfall was the endless swarms of bugs in the woods at this time of year.

Paddling: The paddling was great. This 3-mile stretch of river is flat but we had a favorable wind and plenty of water for uninterrupted paddling. The river also stayed narrow most of the way and winded a good amount.

Observations: The river has decent clarity to it, while the banks are of grass with trees not far off especially on the right or West side of the river where the Ice Age trail goes through. The land is also absent of other bridges and houses in this 3-mile section, but we did come across plenty of other paddlers coming up the river before they started turning back too.

Reflecting: Aside from the bugs while hiking, this round trip of a short trail hike and paddle back was a nice outing. Most people tend to paddle up the river and come right back to County Line road’s landing but if you have a packraft or even a semi light inflatable kayak you could take advantage of the Ice Age trail. I plan to come back to do this trip again or possibly just further upstream where there are light rapids when the water is higher.