Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes
The Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes are some of the most pristine lakes in the entire state. The water is extremely clear and the lakes are surrounded by great scenery, especially the Upper Lakes. The lakes are fairly easy to paddle, and you can choose how long or short you want your trip to be and can either start/finish at the same spot, or start and finish at different launches. Admittedly, Rainbow, Round, Columbia, and Long Lakes aren’t as pleasant to kayak with boats speeding up and down the lakes. The remaining lakes have no wake ordinances and the upper lakes do not have any powerboats at all.
This trip started at the Taylor Lake Ramp since the wind was blowing west. Shortly after launching, there is an inlet to Otter Lake. After paddling Otter Lake, the trip continued west into Rainbow Lake, one of the bigger lakes on the chain. The water became more choppy due to multiple boats speeding and pulling tubes or water skiers.
After Rainbow Lake, the water gets narrower and it’s back to no wake when passing through Nessling and McCrossen Lake. After Brown’s Point the trip continues into Round Lake which allows wake, and Limekiln Lake which does not allow wake. There is a fairly narrow and busy channel below County Q and by the Indian Crossing Casino, a popular bar and grill.
After the channel is Columbia Lake which is once again busy with boaters. The trip headed south to a channel that connects with Dake and Minor Lakes. Both lakes were a lot quieter and very pleasant to paddle. They’re both no wake which deters a lot of powerboats, although they are allowed at low speeds.
The trip continued through Columbia Lake into Long Lake, which is the headwaters for the Crystal River. The lake is extremely busy and has a lot of wake from speeding boaters.
After Long Lake, there is a channel to Beasley, Bass and Young Lake. Beasley and Bass are very calm. At the north end of Bass Lake there is a narrow channel to Young Lake, which is a small but peaceful lane.
After visiting Young’s Lake, the trip proceeded to Beasley Creek, which is very clear but shallow and kayaks have to be walked. Beasley Creek connects the upper and lower lakes. At the end of the creek is Lake Orlando, the first of the Upper Lakes heading west and the best lake to paddle in the chain. The shores become more undeveloped as the state owns most of the shoreline.
After Orlando Lake is Knight Lake, a channel that leads to Manomin Lake, Pope Lake, and the most popular upper lake, Marl Lake.
Although the water is mostly clear throughout the chain, the water clarity is near perfect on the upper lakes. The mostly natural shorelines combined with no motorboat traffic creates the perfect environment for paddlers. The forests along the shores add to a picture perfect setting.
The Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes are the finest set of lakes in Central Wisconsin and are very enjoyable to kayak. If you’re looking for a leisurely paddle at your own pace with terrific scenery and crystal clear water, these are the lakes that you definitely want to check out!
Addendum from the Webmaster:
Thanks Peter for the review! WisconsinRiverTrips.com is always very appreciative of guest reviews, and if you the reader is ever interested in submitting one, you can use this online form.
Note, not all the lake names are shown correctly on Google Maps. Readers may want to use the following map instead as a visual reference. The Crystal River is located just downstream from the Chain O’ Lakes and is also good for kayaking.