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Two rivers. One Water Trail.
Two Characteristically Diverse Rivers Creating One Water Trail with its Own Unique Character
The Fox and Wisconsin Rivers are home to many rich stories, some already told, others yet to drift along. Through the years, these vital rivers have fed and clothed those who dwelled beside them, opened the country to European settlement, powered mighty factories and beckoned all around to delight in their beauty and bounty. They have provided so much while asking nothing in return. Today, the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers need your support. It’s time to – love your river.
The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Waterway runs across the state of Wisconsin and connects the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. Originally designed for steamboat traffic, this river system is comprised of two unique rivers. The industrialized Fox River includes one of only two hand-operated navigable lock systems remaining in the U.S. The wild and scenic Wisconsin River’s beauty and diverse flora and fauna boasts observable geological features created by glaciers more than 12,000 years ago.
Connecting the two rivers is “The Portage”. More than 10,000 years old, the portage bridges the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, by a walk of 2,700 paces. The canal is no longer operational in an effort to keep invasive species in the Lower Wisconsin from migrating to the Upper Fox, leaving this land stretch to bridge the two water bodies.
Turning this route into a water trail requires landing sites and additional portage points to be constructed to make it possible for non-motorized watercraft to travel from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien whether the locks are open, or a train
is expected to cross the river.
Creating this water trail offers opportunities for future public-private partnerships, including tourism and river-based economic revitalization that will benefit communities along the river. And eventually, the water trail will link with the hiking/biking trail system creating an outstanding destination for recreation on land and water.
We mapped the entire water trail 2 years ago. Those maps may be viewed here.
With technical expertise from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program and East Central Regional Planning, we are working on updating these maps and will be posting river segments as they become available.
The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway is a 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions are tax deductible to the maximum amount allowed by law.