Oconomowoc River – Wisconsin [July 2022]

River Paddled: Oconomowoc

Trip Date: July 9, 2022

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.

Take Out

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.

Paddle Length: 3 miles

Paddle Duration: 1.75 hours

Gradient: Flatwater.

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 Stream Gage NumberDischarge RateGage HeightUSGS Link
05426067 20 CFS 12.44 Feet 05426067 Gage Info

Our Experience Paddling This Segment of the Oconomowoc at These Levels

The water level was great. It stayed deep enough for paddling without issues the whole way.

Paddling Experience

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

Natural Scenery

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

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.

Trail Bridge - County Line

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.