This is my personal favorite river for Southeastern Wisconsin. Despite flowing through suburban Milwaukee, the Bark is surprisingly clear, rocky and wild.
Merton Dam to Bark River Park
Date Paddled: October 20th, 2019
Distance: 4.9 miles
Time: 5 hours 13 minutes (2-3 hours would be more typical)
Another Ice Age paddle with some great fall color. While the upper Bark River has some five star scenery, there are a few logjams to deal with.Read More...
Bark River Park to Delafield Post Offcie
Date Paddled: August 10th, 2019
Distance: 6.2 miles
Time: 6 hours 33 minutes (3 hours would be more typical)
A varied paddle with a mixture of light whitewater, lake, marsh, and urban paddling. Overall a nice trip but could be an elite trip if a few logjams were to be cleared out.Read More...
St. John's Park to Hwy 67
Date Paddled: August 6th, 2016
Distance: 7.8 Miles
Time: 6 hours 5 minutes ( 3-4 hours would be more typical)
This is a very nice section on the upper Bark River that runs from Nagawicka Lake to Dousman. Part creek, part urban paddle, part lake paddle, part woodland paddle, and part marsh paddle, this has something for everybody.Read More...
Rome Dam to Cushman Road Bridge
Date Paddled: August 30th, 2015
Distance: 5.6 Miles
Time: 4 hours 38 minutes (2-3 hours would be more typical)
A really nice paddle without too much development, great water clarity, fun riffles and interesting wildlife.Read More...
Cushman Rd to Hwy 106
Date Paddled: June 19th, 2021
Distance: 4.4 miles
Time: Expect 2 hours
This leg marks a major demarcation in the Bark as it transforms from a shallow, rocky river with super clear water, to a beat-up floodplain paddle. The first half of this trip was excellent, but the second half not so much.Read More...
For more information on access options see my Overview Map. For a background on area human interest stories, I recommend the book “The Bark River Chronicles“.
- Hwy Q to N Road: 0.1 miles. Small, channelized and weedy…this may require high water to run.
- N Road to Hillside Road: 1.4 miles. Small and marshy with maybe 2-4 logjams. High water is likely needed to run this part.
Hillside Road to Hwy 164: 2.0 miles. Maybe 5-10 logjams. Very small and marshy. Likely needs high water to run.
- Hwy 164 to Lisbon Park: 2.9 miles. Maybe 2-4 logjams. The channel here is small, shallow, weedy and bog-like. High water is recommended.
- Lisbon Park to Merton Dam/Firemen’s Park: 1.3 miles. Mostly simple flowage paddling.
- Merton Dam to Bark River Park: 4.9 miles.
- Merton Dam to Dorn Road: 1.2 miles. Very scenic section with great fall color. Highlights include some boulder gardens, springs, clear water, and pine trees. Diverse banks with some woods and some marsh. There is one tricky logjam by the old mill.
- Dorn Road to Hartling Road: 0.7 miles. A short but pleasant open section with no logjams.
- Hartling Road to Rybeck Road: 1.0 miles. A scenic mix of light woods, marsh, and a few boulder gardens. There was one easy logjam to portage and a few hoppers/duckers, but it is mostly open.
- Rybeck Road to Centennial Park: 1.0 miles. Starts open and has a fantastic boulder garden. The last part is more cluttered with a number of logjams to hop over. I never had to portage though.
- Centennial Park to Bark River Park: 1.0 miles. A fast wooded section with multiple logjams. There are about four major logjams in a row, but you can skip them all by portaging on the boardwalk to the east (super easy). There are some additional hoppers beyond this stretch, but I didn’t think they were too bad.
- Bark River Park to Delafield Post Office: 6.1 miles.
- Bark River Park to Nixon Park: 0.7 miles. Terrific stretch through the heart of Hartland. Highlights included many fun Class 1 rapids and one Class 2.
- Nixon Park to Cottonwood Ave: 0.5 miles. Nice stretch with a mix of light woods and suburban homes.
- Cottonwood Ave to Hwy 83: 1.4 miles. Mostly an open marsh section. A few portages are required for downed trees.
- Hwy 83 to Lake Nagawicka Mouth: 1.3 miles. Less marsh and more woods…this is a nice stretch with good water clarity.
- Lake Nagawicka Mouth to Delafield Post Office: 2.2 miles. This is almost all lake paddling. Lake Nagawicka has good clarity and some attractive shoreline homes, but it is heavily developed and suffers from excess motorboat traffic. Several alternate access options exist along the lake shore.
- Delafield Post Office to Hwy 67: 7.7 miles.
- Delafield Post Office to Nemahbin Lake Boat Launch: 1.8 miles. Likely the best stretch on the entire river. Highlights include attractive rocky sections and stunning clarity.
- Nemahbin Lake Boat Launch to Sawyer Road: 0.7 miles. Mostly a simple paddle on Lower Nemahbin Lake. Highlights include great water clarity, an attractive cattail corridor and the “Blue Hole”.
- Sawyer Road to Genesee Lake Road: 2.2 miles. Very nice marsh paddle.
- Genesee Lake Road to Summit Ave: 3.0 miles. A good stretch with ecologically diverse banks.
- Summit Ave to Hwy 18 Wayside: 3.8 miles. A decent prospect. The take-out is a small park/wayside and the last of the three Hwy 18 bridge crossings. Note a recent reader comment says this stretch has many serious logjams.
- Hwy 18 Wayside to Hwy E: 6.2 Miles. Heavily channelized, but some of it still seems like it has potential. Note a reader noted that this stretch has many serious logjams some of which are difficult to portage.
- Hwy E to the Rome dam: 4.2 miles. Half of this leg would be a flowage paddle on Rome Pond.
- Rome to Cushman Road: 5.6 miles. A fantastic stretch and one of southeast Wisconsin’s paddling gems.
- Cushman Rd to Hwy 106 Canoe Launch: 4.4 miles.
- Cushman Rd to Hagedorn Rd: 0.6 miles. A great leg with clear, fast water and many rocks. Only downside is it can get shallow.
- Hagedorn Rd to Hwy 106: 3.8 miles. The first half is pleasant, clear and rocky. The second half is more of a floodplain paddle with more mud and downed trees which was less interesting.
- Hwy 106 canoe launch to Prince's Point Wildlife Area: 5.5 miles. Be careful of the partly removed dam at Hebron. There are definitely downed trees in this section.
- Prince's Point to Burnt Village County Park: 7.1 miles. Mostly floodplain forest and doesn’t look as interesting IMO.
- Burnt Village County Park to the Rock River: 5.5 miles. Does not seem super interesting. Landing is just upstream of the mouth on the east bank.