Put-in: Lake Delton Boat Ramp
Take-out: Newport Park (Wisconsin River)
Distance: 3-4 Mile Loop or 1 mile One-way
Lake Delton is quite different from its upstream sibling, Mirror Lake, in that it is dominated by large commercial interests and powerboats, while Mirror Lake largely consists of public land, modest residential homes, and paddlers taking advantage of the no-wake zones. If you do want to paddle Lake Delton, you’ll probably want to do so at a quiet time (like early morning) so you don’t have to contend with the traffic. There really aren’t that many rock formations on Lake Delton, but it does have a decent wooded shoreline. The left-most ‘horn’ of Lake Delton is restricted access during the ski shows and doesn’t offer too much value except to be able to kayak under Hwy 23 through a concrete tunnel (kind of stinky, but cool). The Spring Brook creek area (where this feeds from) is a cool kayaking area when it has enough water (which is rarely), although Blass Lake is always kayakable. You can read more about the Spring Brook area here. The SW extreme end of the lake is fed by Dell Creek (and Mirror Lake). That is a very cool paddle trip that you can read about here. On the east end of the lake there is a small developed island and you can paddle under it’s quaint little bridge. On the northwest end is a massive mansion and another ‘island’/peninsula that you can paddle around. West of here is a small creek that flows out from the Canyon Creek Riding Stables.
The Lake Delton dam is quite a bit more difficult to portage than the Mirror Lake Dam. Avoid the current, hang left and you’ll be able to get out of the water okay enough on the “Duck” ramp there (amphibious vehicles). The signs say no trespassing, however the DNR does have very clear navigation rules in that if you encounter an obstruction you are legally allowed (according to noted canoe author Mike Svob) to briefly use private land to get around obstacles (like a dam)…so you should be ok…just make sure a Duck isn’t using it at the same time. The land itself is a unique public/private hybrid between the state and the duck company. There is a park and parking lot on the other side of the fence if you want to take out here (the fence isn’t closed off). Fisherman are allowed to park at the park, walk though the fence, and go down to a fishing trail below the dam and you should be able to use the same trail. It is VERY steep (you might need rope to get your kayak down).
After you get into the water and away from the fishermen, you’ll enjoy a peaceful voyage through Dell Creek and its wooded banks before you encounter converging ramps from competing Duck companies. Don’t get hit by the Ducks… Duck traffic has created ruts in the area, such that in low water there should be fun mini rapids to go over on your way to the Wisconsin River. You’ll pass a rock formation and the Hwy A bridge and voilla…you’re in the Wisconsin River. Immediately to your right should be a brand new park opening up in 2012 called ‘Newport Park’ (million+ dollar boat ramp park with restrooms). Immediately after this new park and on your right is the Rivers Edge Resort (private ramp).
You do have to pay money to use either landings (last I checked they both costs the same). Newport Park should now be free for paddlers as long as you park in the non-trailer parking lot.
Alternate Dell Creek Trips:
- Upstream of South Ave: I think the Creek is too small to run.
- South Ave to Briar Bluff Road: 1.84 miles. Nice stretch, but there are probably too many log jams.
- Briar Bluff Road to Coon Bluff Road: 1.39 miles. Probably a lot of jams unfortunately. It is on my to-do list.
- Coon Bluff Road to Hwy 23: 1.73 miles. Nice open wetgrass paddle. Most jams should be gone. Reviewed here.
- Hwy 23 to the E. Adams Boat Ramp: 4 miles. This is Mirror Lake which has multiple intermediary options and is reviewed here.
- E. Adams Boat Ramp to Newport Park: 1.84 miles. This is Lake Delton which is reviewed here.