Six Mile Creek

This is a nice paddling creek, but you must wait for high water levels as it can be shallow.  It’s a diverse creek with marshy stretches, some urban paddling through Waunakee, some wooded legs, and a surprising number of rocks and boulders.

Trip Reports

Ripp Park to Castle Creek Conservancy

Date Paddled: June 9th, 2018
Distance: 3.8 miles
Time: 3 hours 45 minutes (2 hours would be more typical)

This Lake Mendota tributary was a nice paddle with only a few logjams.  Highlights include a marsh, rapids, some scenic parks, 17 total bridges, and even a few boulder gardens.


Waunakee Village Park to Woodland Drive

Date Paddled: July 17th, 2022
Distance: 4.9 miles
Time: Expect 3 hours if cleared out (way more if not)

This was an incorrectly timed trip...too low and too many logjams.  It is however a very pretty creek.  With enough rain and after the current cleanup efforts finish, this might be one of the more attractive water trails in Dane County.


Woodland Drive to Governor Nelson State Park

Date Paddled: August 4th, 2018
Distance: 4.2 miles
Time: 4 hours 48 minutes (2-2.5 hours would be more typical)

Recently cleared of logjams, lower Six Mile Creek is Dane County's newest water trail.  This was a diverse trip that included dense woodlands, marsh, and paddling on Lake Mendota.  All in all a pleasant trip with the highlight being the diverse and unique plant life.


Overview Map

Detailed Overview

Nearby Guages



Aug 26th, 2023 - Aaron from Dell Creek
An update here from Friends of Six Mile Creek: Creek is now open from Division Street to Mill Road!
Sep 26th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Good work has been done cleaning up many of the logjams we faced. Here is a recent video that shows that most signicant logjam being removed:
Aug 29th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
The dredging of Six Mile Creek has started. Here is a video of the dredging machine in action:
May 10th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks Denny for the update. It's too bad to hear about Kingsley Road. I wonder if it is better at high levels. Mill Road though is good news. I know a local group is working on cleaning out the creek there and they should have this to Woodland Drive cleared later this summer.
May 10th, 2022 - Denny Caneff from Monona Bay
I took Aaron’s suggestion and put in at Kingsley Road. DON’T do it! There’s a nasty debris dam with 20 yards of putrifying cattails behind it 10 minutes from the put-in. The nettles-infested portage is lumpy and no fun. Your reward for all this? More marsh paddling and sweet noise from Hwy. 19. The put-in at Ripp Park is a relative dream. I extended Aaron’s route to Mill Road — it continues what you just ran and it’s worth it, but ONLY IF the USGS gage is at at least 20 cfs. Otherwise you’re bumping your way downstream. There is in fact legal street parking on Mill Road. If you’re jonesin’ for Six Mile Creek, do a round trip on the other section described here; start at Woodland Drive, paddle to County M and return.
Apr 8th, 2022 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Nice pictures!
Apr 8th, 2022 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra
We did an out and back on 4/1/22 from the North Shore Bay Dr bridge, to see if we could make it to the Woodland Dr Bridge. We got close, maybe 1/4 mile away before we got to a blockage that would have required a portage or more sawing/lopping than we were up for. You can see where we turned around on the attached map, it is right were there are some old I-beams in the creek. There was also one duck under that would be hard for bigger boats or higher water levels. I also scouted down from the bridge on foot, there are a few places that need some cleaning up/clearing out, but nothing major. Here is a link to virtual map and pics from the trip.
Dec 16th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the update! CWT is actually still working on the creek and hopefully in early 2022 a section further upstream by Waunakee will be navigable for paddling.
Dec 16th, 2021 - Denny Caneff from Madison
I can attest that the work that Capital Water Trails did in Six Mile Creek has held -- mostly. I paddled and up-and-back on an unusually warm mid-December day (2021) from the bridge at North Shoe Bay Drive to 200 yards short of Woodland Drive, where I encountered a double-trunked basswood blocking the stream -- a beast I didn't feel like portaging around. By the looks of the photos, paddling this creek in fall/winter has the advantage of not struggling with aquatic vegetation. I also saw that the creek had cut a new channel, leaving behind a 200-yard long oxbow. Things get quite shallow at the merger of Six Mile and Dorn creeks.
Sep 21st, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
That's unfortunate news...hopefully that gets cleared out in the future. Thanks for the update.
Sep 20th, 2020 - Rick and Janet Wayne from Starkweather Creek
ALL HAIL WRT.COM! We just ran this same trip at about 4.3' on the Hwy 19 gage, and the bridge was utterly impassible. Well, unless you wanted to lie down in your boat, helpless, and hope you emerged at the other end! On the other hand we had very few groundings that weren't due to poor route selection. The marsh contained several flocks of jump-scare ducks and even a big one of Canadas that left several hundred square meters of white down atop the water when they boogied. We didn't have to limbo or portage a single tree; by the Piggly Wiggly there was one 30-meter section of extremely thick weeds backed up behind some downed wood in which it was very difficult to move. Water quite clear, sand & gravel bottom for most of the trip. Take-out just before Division Street bridge was excellent, though the bottom there was so soft we just hoisted our keisters onto the bank.
Jul 23rd, 2019 - Rick from 6 mile
Satellite view. Awesome! Thanks Aaron!
Jul 23rd, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I haven't, but multiple logjams can be seen from satellite view. If it were cleaned out, it could be a cool paddle though.
Jul 23rd, 2019 - Rick from 6 mile
Has anyone paddled 6 mile from Castle Creek Conservancy to Woodland? Color me curious.
Jul 12th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I'm surprised to hear that the east side is in bad shape. Last year it was great for launching.
Jul 12th, 2019 - Rick from Six Mile
Just checked out possible put-in spots off of Woodland. West side of the road is damn near impossible due to steepness and lots of vegetation. SE is the best put-in spot but is super muddy. ☹️
Jul 25th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Hi Mike...that is a good question. As a non-swimmer, you might stay off the more congested sections (downstream of 113). But really any section you do will have deeper pools and possible logjams. My suggestion as a beginner would be to simply do another creek until you are more comfortable dealing with logjams and other surprises creeks can toss at you. Black Earth Creek (Olson to Mazo) might be a better starter prospect as that section is kept clear of hazards.
Jul 25th, 2018 - Mike from Six Mile Creek
I am a 60 year old non-swimmer (not comfortable in water, would panic if I fell into water over my head, although I have canoed in my younger days while wearing a PFD. I have access to an inexpensive kayak (blow-molded polyethylene, think Menard's). As I live close to Six Mile Creek, is it safe for a non-swimmer, again wearing a PFD, to paddle on any portions of the Six Mile Creek? Are there any spots that I should avoid? Or is it just not safe for a non-swimmer to be in a kayak anywhere?

How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.

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