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Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
You know that saying that “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Well, that pretty much applies to paddling as well. It’s hardly ever about where you’ve gotten to, but rather how you’ve gotten there. That sense of accomplishment, where you are your own captain, chief navigator and finely tuned engine propulsion system. You scan the immediate horizon. Assess the options. Then veer towards adventure. Sometimes its the rush of a thriving current, sometimes it’s placid and peaceful. Paddling the winding water trails of this national recreational trail can be a fun way to get some exercise or just enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. For those whose desired mode of transportation involves a paddle, the Parkway is the perfect place.
Whether you’re an experienced paddler or fairly new to riding the waves, the water trails in the Parkway offer a variety of exceptional opportunities. Rivers, lakes, and streams afford recreational, boaters, kayakers, and canoeists an abundance of publicly accessible facilities in all parts of the Heritage Area. There are currently 71 access points along the Water Trail that provide access to its rivers and lakes. All sorts of motor powered and people powered boats and other recreational devices can be launched at these locations and many can even be rented at facilities throughout the Parkway.
All of the public access points to the rivers are marked as stops on the Water Trail, and are shown on the Water Trail maps. Each landing is publicly owned and maintained and meets Department of Natural Resources standards. Look for Water Trail signs at these launch points for reference with the maps. The rivers can be shallow and rocky at spots, so please be sure to check the water levels in the area you wish to paddle before putting in. Also, please note that there are many dams and locks along the Parkway, and paddlers are required by law to portage around these dams. Portages can be lengthy in unimproved locations.
To gauge how much time it takes to paddle from one landing to the other, consult the water trail map to calculate how many river miles are shown from point A to B. Typically recreational paddlers travel at 2 or 2.5 miles per hour, but you also have to account for the speed of river current and wind conditions when planning your trip. You can visually gauge the speed of the river based on the average person’s walking speed of about 3 miles per hour. Is the river moving slower or faster than you can walk?
For those seeking a little more excitement, several sections of the Water Trail offer some areas with narrow, fast moving and more challenging conditions for more experienced paddlers. Much of the Water Trail length offers safe and serene conditions through much of the boating season.
Regardless of the type of watercraft you use, please access the Water Trail only at marked locations and do not trespass on private property while launching or landing.
Now is the time to dream and plan for your next grand paddle adventure. Access our maps below, and feel free to call with any questions or if you need advice or help. Also, we are working on a brand new set of maps for the website and an interactive online version as well! Stay tuned (we are planning to roll out the first river section early spring 2015).
Thanks to the generous donation from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., the Parkway is excited to have acquired 2 voyageur canoes, all PDF’s and a trailer that will be available for the 2016 Heritage Paddle Events. Each voyageur canoe will have a guide and will allow for 7 additional passengers per craft. The cost per paddle event is $20/per person. The cost will include the voyageur guide, paddle and PDF. You must contact the Parkway before the event to make reservations. To Make Reservations
Also, please visit Northeast Wisconsin Paddler’s website at www.wisconsinpaddlers.org. They have been a tremendous partner of FWHP and we value their time and effort dedicated to the sport of paddling. They offer great kayak classes during the winter months – check them out!