Yahara River

The Yahara is a mediocre paddling river, but it is very popular because of its proximity to Madison.  It does have one elite water trail though and that is through the community of Deforest.  This is a fantastic leg, but often it is too low for paddling.

Trip Reports

Veteran's Memorial Park to Sunfish Pond


Date Paddled: May 11th, 2019
Distance: 5.7 miles
Time: 6 hours 39 minutes (2.5 hours would be more typical)

Located north of Lake Mendota by DeForest, the Upper Yahara River is no more than a creek...but a fun creek at that with great wildlife, clarity, boulder gardens, rapids and other surprises.  This might be the best paddle in all of Dane County.

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Veteran's Memorial Park to Sunfish Pond


Date Paddled: May 11th, 2016
Distance: 5.7 Miles
Time: 2 hours

A guest review for a great section of the Yahara River near Deforest.  Small, fast, and winding this is a good prospect to try when other nearby rivers and creeks are too high.

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Viking County Park in Stoughton to Stebbinsville Dam Road


Date Paddled: August 25th, 2018
Distance: 10.2 miles
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

A guest review for the Lower Yahara River near Stoughton.  Done during high water, pollution was an issue.  While having interesting parts, this trip did require two dam portages and did have some wide monotonous sections.

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Hwy N to W. Stebbinsville Rd


Date Paddled: October 17th, 2021
Distance: 4.8 miles
Time: Expect 2+ hours

This is one of the nicer water trails south of Madison.  Highlights include some light riffles and scenic boulder gardens.

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W Stebbinsville Rd to Murwin Park


Date Paddled: July 7th, 2012
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Time: Roughly 3 hours

Originating from a chain of lakes in the Madison area, the Yahara is very popular with locals.  It’s not a super long river and has a number of dams, so there aren’t that many navigable areas before it reaches the Rock River.  The most popular section is from the site of the old Stebbinsville Dam […]

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Overview Map

Detailed Overview

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Comments

Jun 21st, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the update Eric. If this situation changes, definitely let us know.
Jun 21st, 2021 - Eric G from Wingra Creek
I did the same section a few hours after Jon (on river 3:30 off river 5:45), similar report, but either you for got one, or a new one fell in the hours between us. There is a big Bur Oak with a bunch of trunks and branches in and across the creek right at a right hand bend after a big ranch style house on a hill on river left with a big mowed lawn. (I'm pretty sure it is on a line between Prairie Fire Ct on the east side of the river and Diamond Dr on the westside) I was able to get through/over/under so I did not have to get out of my boat, but it took some doing and the current is fairly decent there. The river is not too deep at that spot, so probably not too hard to get out to portage, but I suspect it is private property and in view of the house. As I said it was not that difficult but could be an easy spot to tip if you are not paying attention. I was short on time so did not stop to do any cleaning, but hope to get back in the next week or two to do some clean-up work with saws and loppers
Jun 18th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the update. That rain storm sure opened up a nice window for the Upper Yahara...I doubt it lasts until Monday though.
Jun 18th, 2021 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Paddled from Veteran's Park to Innovation Drive on 18Jun2021, 2.4 ft at 70CFS. A bit scrapey, but no blockages, and I never had to exit my boat. The only stream-wide tree was between the Innovation Dr. bridge and the takeout. At higher levels this might not be an easy duck-under. Link to photo: https://photos.app.goo.gl/e71428At4eLgLLns9 I think the City of DeForest cleared some blockages last winter?? I was pleasantly surprised at the absence of major obstacles.
Apr 11th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Appreciate the heads up!
Apr 11th, 2021 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
The blockage has been removed, river is now clear form Veteran's memorial Park to SunFish Pond
Mar 14th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Hopefully others will see your notes and will be able to help finish that off.
Mar 13th, 2021 - Eric G from Wingra Creek
We spent a few hour picking up trash, clearing brush, removing snaps, but did not feel we had the manpower or expertise to remove the one major blockage or some other trees that spanned the creek from bank to bank, but there is still only one place that may require a fairly easy portage, it is located just up stream for the 2nd River Road Bridge
Mar 12th, 2021 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Sounds like a great trip! If that one jam gets cleared out, definitely let us know.
Mar 11th, 2021 - Eric G from Wingra Creek
I paddled this section today after with a bike shuttle, 60 CFS and just over 2 ft. The trip only took 1 hr 45 mins, but I was paddling hard and fast because I did not know how many blockages I would find, and I wanted to be sure to be off the river before sunset. It was a surprisingly nice trip. Lots of waterfowl,tons of deer, huge muskrat (or beaver?) good fast current,and only one partial/full blockage. I was able to squeak through by laying down in my solo canoe,might be tough for some kayakers, but there looked to be an easy portage on river left. I am planning a cleanup trip this weekend with MadCity Paddlers so hopefully we can get it all cleared out.
Nov 16th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I appreciate the river updates as always Eric!
Nov 15th, 2020 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
I did this section on 11/11/20, levels were excellent at CFS 65 and 3 ft. I have done this trip many times but never at these levels, and it makes a huge difference.This trip was fun and fast, especially after the first bridge (South Street). Usually there are several shallow spots,bumpy rapids, and it takes a lot of maneuvering to avoid rocks and find the deepest part of the creek to avoid scraping, but at 3 feet that is not a problem and there are many sections with constant riffles and small rapids. Nothing was truly dangerous but good boat handling skills are required if you want this trip to be fun rather than frustrating. There were no blockages but there were three trees to duck under, all of them between the second River Rd bridge and the new Innovation Drive bridge, that would probably not be too bad in lower levels but at 3 and above may require some limboing skills, and may be a problem for some. I was in a solo canoe so I can easily duck down and get below the gunnels. The whole trip took only took me 2 hrs 1:45 mins on the water and 15 min bike shuttle on the trail. A perfect way to spend an unusually warm Nov afternoon. I am always surprised by how wild parts of this trip feel, as it is really a fairly urban paddle. Because of this it would also be a great river for someone who wants to try winter paddling because you are never very far from a street, road or house and the Innovation Drive landing makes a good halfway point if you want to try a short trip.
Sep 14th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Glad you didn't have too many issues...this is a great stretch...perhaps my favorite paddle in Dane County. Norski is awesome too!
Sep 14th, 2020 - Jason from Nine Springs Creek
First time on this section of the Yahara. Levels at 40.4 cfs and 1.81 feet. The original description remains very accurate, in general. There were no major obstructions at this time. There was a hop-over about 1/2 through that would have been easier with a 1-2 more inches of water. My wife and I each got stuck in shallow areas a few times, and there was a fair amount of scraping. While a few more inches would have made that less of an issue, there were a few duck-under sections that would have been challenging if the water had been a few inches higher. The run at the South Street bridge was one of our favorites. Overall, an enjoyable day. A good opportunity to practice our skills knowing the river tends not to be too deep (if you do get caught up on a boulder). The best part? Stopping at the Norske Nook for some pie afterwards!
Aug 28th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Great photos! Thanks as always for the updates.
Aug 28th, 2020 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Paddled from Veteran's Memorial Park to Innovation Dr. (aka Rivers Turn Park Trailhead) on 28Aug2020 with a bike shuttle. Windsor gauge was at 2.3 ft and 55CFS. Scrapey, but never had to exit my boat - someone's done some major clearing since 2019. Innovation Dr. no longer dead-ends at the river. A new bridge now allows one to drive between River Rd. and Cty Hwy CV (aka Main St.) This made the car shuttle portion of this trip shorter. There's a tree spanning the entire river upstream from the second River Rd. bridge. I barely made it under, but at higher levels it might require portaging. Link to photo taken downstream from the tree: https://photos.app.goo.gl/xYHtYgNB995LzXa38 And, a link to a photo album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/xFASGnzCApyDJxoG7 I saw Great Blue Herons at least 8 times, some were surely repeats. A few times they took off right in front of me as I drifted around a bend. The takeout at Innovation Dr. is a little steep. I stood in knee-deep water and heaved my kayak onto the bank.
Jul 13th, 2020 - Joey from DuPage River
Hi Aaron, yeah it was really slow going through the Marsh Wildlife area. I had no idea it would be as rugged with all the blockades. Fortunately, there were no sea creatures and the insects, while plentiful, were of the spider, mosquito, and fly variety. Also fortuitously, we weren't super pressed for time and we exited the worst of the marsh wildlife by about 5pm. And the temp was probably low 80s, so it could've been worse I imagine...had daylight really been a factor, that would've added a much more harrowing element to the adventure. I bet we had to get out of our boat to pull our kayaks over logjams in the Cherokee Marsh Wildlife area at least 10 times it seemed. Some were major blockages that required playing "Frogger" over some floating/half-floating bigger limbs for leg support. The other blockages we were able to maneuver through, but nearly all of these weren't very straight forward and we definitely had to use our arms and the branches to pull ourselves forward and through or sometimes under. It was an adventure, that's for sure.
Jul 13th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I'm horrified that you had to face "30-40 tree branch blockades"...3 can be too many! I'll update my maps/write-ups to warn other users.
Jul 13th, 2020 - Joey from DuPage River
We did the Upper Yahara on Saturday, 7/11/20, and the online river gauge showed 120-140 cfs, which was down sharply from the 600 cfs just 30 hours prior. This was our first time on the UY and we weren't sure just how dangerous it may be. We put in at Veterans Memorial Park. However, while there were some tight duck-unders of some bridges and some weaving through branches, we never had to portage around or over anything. The first 30-45 minutes are more scenic than exciting I'd say, but the latter section was really, really fun with some rapids and such. It was the best stretch we've been on in our admittedly young kayaking life. There's quite a bit of bend in this stretch which made it all the more exciting, as we were never quite sure what was around the corner. It took about 2hrs 15 minutes to get to Sunfish Pond, including a brief lunch break. However, since we don't live in the area and made the driving effort to Madison, our plan was to keep going all the way to Yahara Heights County Park (a 13-mile trek from Vets Park) to make our effort and trip really worthwhile and memorable....and that's where the real adventure began. The earlier section from Veterans Memorial Park to Sunfish Pond was for fun, in hindsight. The Windsor golf course immediately after Sunfish Pond was nothing special to paddle through, and it did require a couple of portages and some close duck-unders of some brdiges, so mehh on that section. Once we crossed under Interstate 39 and entered the Cherokee Marsh Wildlife area, holy cow that's where things really got rough and we got bogged down. No less than 30-40 tree branch blockades, some of which were quite challenging and required portaging over, including a major couple of blockages right past I-39. Some we could pass through even though they were tricky, but make no mistake, this was as much an exercise in determination as it was in kayaking. And occasionally the river would split and we were left wondering if we took the right path (always chose the path where the current was moving strongest towards). Now having looked at the map in closer detail, I guess it all links back up eventually, but in the heat of battle and in the thick marshlands, we weren't really sure. Eventually we made it out of the Cherokee Marsh, but this was probably close to a 4-hour adventure itself once we passed Sunfish Pond. But we weren't done yet...nope. We had to then contend with the Cherokee Marsh Fishery area, a much wider channel branch of the Yahara that was essentially like kayaking on an open lake. We did that for close to an hour and a half before reaching Yahara Heights County Park, and at the end of a long day of kayaking, just to see wide open water in front of you as far as you can see with very little changing landscape, well, let's just say this wasn't the most thrilling part of the Yahara for us. But we eventually made it, roughly 7hrs 30 minutes after we launched at Vets Memorial Park. What an adventure that was! We Ubered back to our car, circled back for our kayaks at Yahara Heights, and then went right back to DeForest for some awesome Mexican fare and margaritas we had our minds set on. Upper Yahara, we will not forget you...and nor you Cherokee Marsh areas!! Thanks to this website and all its contributors for allowing us to plan a fun kayaking trip from the Chicago area...on Sunday we did the Badfish Creek in Rutland and put some comments there, too.
Jul 13th, 2020 - Joey from DuPage River
We did the Upper Yahara on Saturday, 7/11/20, and the online river gauge showed 120-140 cfs, which was down sharply from the 600 cfs just 30 hours prior. This was our first time on the UY and we weren't sure just how dangerous it may be. We put in at Veterans Memorial Park. However, while there were some tight duck-unders of some bridges and some weaving through branches, we never had to portage around or over anything. The first 30-45 minutes are more scenic than exciting I'd say, but the latter section was really, really fun with some rapids and such. It was the best stretch we've been on in our admittedly young kayaking life. There's quite a bit of bend in this stretch which made it all the more exciting, as we were never quite sure what was around the corner. It took about 2hrs 15 minutes to get to Sunfish Pond, including a brief lunch break. However, since we don't live in the area and made the driving effort to Madison, our plan was to keep going all the way to Yahara Heights County Park (a 13-mile trek from Vets Park) to make our effort and trip really worthwhile and memorable....and that's where the real adventure began. The earlier section from Veterans Memorial Park to Sunfish Pond was for fun, in hindsight. The Windsor golf course immediately after Sunfish Pond was nothing special to paddle through, and it did require a couple of portages and some close duck-unders of some brdiges, so mehh on that section. Once we crossed under Interstate 39 and entered the Cherokee Marsh Wildlife area, holy cow that's where things really got rough and we got bogged down. No less than 30-40 tree branch blockades, some of which were quite challenging and required portaging over, including a major couple of blockages right past I-39. Some we could pass through even though they were tricky, but make no mistake, this was as much an exercise in determination as it was in kayaking. And occasionally the river would split and we were left wondering if we took the right path (always chose the path where the current was moving strongest towards). Now having looked at the map in closer detail, I guess it all links back up eventually, but in the heat of battle and in the thick marshlands, we weren't really sure. Eventually we made it out of the Cherokee Marsh, but this was probably close to a 4-hour adventure itself once we passed Sunfish Pond. But we weren't done yet...nope. We had to then contend with the Cherokee Marsh Fishery area, a much wider channel branch of the Yahara that was essentially like kayaking on an open lake. We did that for close to an hour and a half before reaching Yahara Heights County Park, and at the end of a long day of kayaking, just to see wide open water in front of you as far as you can see with very little changing landscape, well, let's just say this wasn't the most thrilling part of the Yahara for us. But we eventually made it, roughly 7hrs 30 minutes after we launched at Vets Memorial Park. What an adventure that was! We Ubered back to our car, circled back for our kayaks at Yahara Heights, and then went right back to DeForest for some awesome Mexican fare and margaritas we had our minds set on. Upper Yahara, we will not forget you...and nor you Cherokee Marsh areas!! Thanks to this website and all its contributors for allowing us to plan a fun kayaking trip from the Chicago area...on Sunday we did the Badfish Creek in Rutland and put some comments there, too.
Jun 30th, 2020 - Aaron from Dell Creek
That nasty logjam that Colleen encounted must have been cleaned out...which is great news!
Jun 30th, 2020 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
We did the creek on Mon 6/30/20 with a bike shuttle. The river was at 40 CFS and 1.8 ft. which is on the low end of my recommended levels 2-3 ft is ideal. We never had to get out and walk the boats but there were several very shallow areas and most of the rapids were a bit bumpy. On the upside there were no complete blockages or portages, and we meet a couple of guys from Quercus Land Stewardship Services (https://quercuslandstewardship.com/) who were cleaning up the river. A big shout out to them! The trip took us just over 2.5 hours and the bike shuttle took us about 15 mins using the adjacent bike trail.
Dec 20th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the update on that strainer.
Dec 20th, 2019 - Colleen from Yahara River
We paddled the upper Yahara River (Veteran’s Memorial Park to Sunfish Pond) on Aug 17, 2019, in a MadRiver Explorer whitewater open canoe. The online gauge indicated 40 cfs and 2.0 ft. There is now a dangerous strainer midway through the trip. A very large living tree collapsed across the river. The branches extending down into the water have made a massive debris trap through which a significant undercurrent is flowing. Upstream of the strainer, the water is at least 6 ft deep. Downstream it is 1 ft deep. There is a portage on river right with a difficult put-in from a bank about 6 ft above the river channel. A tip-over upstream of the strainer while trying to exit the river could lead to entrapment of a paddler in the debris below the water surface. The debris in the surrounding trees indicated that in flood, the water level was a good 8 or 9 feet above the current water level above the strainer. As an (inactive) ACA whitewater canoeing instructor I would suggest that this section of the Yahara cannot be recommended until this strainer is cleared (and that will be difficult work). We also noted a dozen tires, many plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and a half dozen obstructions that we were able to dodge or wiggle across. The river did not carry its water through the lower third of the run; a half-dozen stretches were so shallow that we could not float and walked the canoe. We will be crossing this one off our once every year list in favor of the other beautiful runs in Wisconsin.
Sep 23rd, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
That's good news in a way. I feared the logjam situation would actually be worse. It's also nice to hear that 220 CFS was navigable.
Sep 23rd, 2019 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Paddled from Veteran's Park to Innovation Dr. on 23 Sept 2019. Gauge was about 4.6 ft., ~220 CFS. Trip took longer than usual due to 3 mandatory portages. One portage was due to a tree we couldn't duck under at this level, and another duck-under was extremely tight. Lots of maneuvering to avoid branches and leaves, and one duck-under that was extremely tight. The higher level washed out some of the rapids-virtually all the rocks were covered. I'd say 3-4 ft. on the gauge is the sweet spot for swift water enthusiasts with the right skills and boats. Saw kingfishers, great blue herons, deer, frogs, and an owl - it was drizzling for part of the trip.
Sep 23rd, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I hope they remove the dam complete. It could fail (dams to all the time). Also the issue with high lake levels isn't just the lake...but the adjacent ground water table. That capacity is need to absorb rain. Lastly, lowering lake levels would reduce the amount of stagnate water which would reduce unnatural algae growth.
Sep 22nd, 2019 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Re: Madison Lake levels: The Upper Yahara is a very small watershed, which is why it goes up and down so fast. Token Creek contributes twice as much base flow as the Upper Yahara. Lake levels are a hot topic, here's a link to a deep dive by former mayor Dave C: https://isthmus.com/news/cover-story/reducing-madison-lake-levels-will-not-prevent-flooding/
Jul 7th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Appreciate the update Jon!
Jul 7th, 2019 - Jon from Starkweather
Forklift is no longer blocking the circle drive, but paddlers seem to have started putting in closer to the bridge anyway. Paddled Stebbinsville to Murwin Park in Fulton on 07July2019, 650 CFS at 5.30 ft. I prefer this stretch at a lower water level, but it was a beautiful day on the river, with 2 juvenile eagles perched next to the nest that Aaron mentions.
Jun 27th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Appreciate the depth reference which should help other paddlers. Also good tip on the email alerts. Personally I'm constantly checking the USGS map to see where water levels are at: https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=wi
Jun 27th, 2019 - Eric from Wingra Creek
I've done this section probably 10 times in the past 2 years, it is by far my favorite local paddle. The only problem is that it is hard to catch it at a good level, my target is 2-3 ft or about 40-50 cfs, I find the ft a better indicator for this river. If it is much below 2 feet, the rapids are pretty bumpy, but between 2-3 they are perfect, fast, fun and almost nonstop for a long stretch of the river, too much above 3 might be a bit pushy for some folks. The river rises and falls quickly, it is often only at a good level for a day or less, so you have to watch the gauges or set up a USGS WaterAlert that will send you an email when the river is at or between levels you choose (https://water.usgs.gov/wateralert/subscribe2/?site_no=05427718&parm=00060) Also this part of the Yahara stay open all winter, and because you are always close to a trial,houses and a road it makes for a safe place to try winter paddling. It is beautiful in the winter, and you will see an amazing amount of wildlife, especially deer
May 27th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Warning to Yahara River paddlers...a teenage girl was killed recently when canoeing the river by Fulton. She and the canoe became pinned by a strainer and did not escape. The Yahara was very high (over 1000 CFS). High rivers should rarely be paddled as strainers can become deadly traps at these levels. https://www.channel3000.com/news/-i-tried-as-i-could-to-bring-her-up-state-trooper-first-in-water-to-rescue-trapped-14-year-old/1081179635
May 25th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Definitely a gauge dependent stream. The gauge actually nearly spiked to 800 CFS today...wonder if anybody tried paddling it.
May 25th, 2019 - Rick Hannah from Six mile creek
Love this stretch! I do a lot of my paddling solo so I appreciate the bike trail option for shuttling. Water level is important for optimal paddling experience. Check the USGS streamflow website for Wisconsin for level and cfs daily updates! https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/current?type=flow
May 23rd, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
That's one advantage of spring paddles...less weeds and understory growth. hopefully both jams get cleared out in the future. Good tip for Veterans Park...in hindsight this might be viable trick forSunfish Park as well.
May 23rd, 2019 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Paddled 23May2019 at 40 CFS and 1.7 ft. Lower level than I prefer, but a good paddle for birdwatching. Lots of wood ducks, warblers, plus spotted sandpipers and common nighthawks. Got hung up several times, but was able to scoot over without exiting the kayak The mandatory portage route around the big tree has nettles which could sting bare skin once they mature later. A new tree is down, but I managed to ram the bow onto a low spot, then pull my kayak over by grabbing branches. To get a shorter carry at Veteran's Park launch: park as close to the bridge, unload, then move car to parking lot.
Sep 3rd, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
I'm surprised you are scraping as the upper Yahara is one of the main tributaries to the lakes, and yet we are still having flooding on the isthmus. Maybe they are release too much water from the dam. Great to hear about the trash cleanup...wish more people would do this.
Sep 3rd, 2018 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Padddled from Veteran's Park to Innovation Dr. on 03Sept2018. Windsor gauge was at 2.5ft. when we put in, about 2.35ft. when we took out. Steel pontoon and filter sock we encountered on the last trip are gone, and we only exited once to pull over a log. We removed two kid-sized basketballs, a plastic bottle, and a 2'x2' piece of pink styrofoam board from the river (recent heavy rains must have washed them in). At this level there's more scraping in the riffly sections, and a few more rocks to bounce off. I much prefer 3ft or higher on the gauge. Would like to catch it at 5ft sometime to see if it's even more fun than the 4.5ft. level from our last trip.
Aug 18th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Good to hear the creek is still navigable...even at 4.6' which I would have thought would be high!
Aug 17th, 2018 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Paddled from Veterans Park to Windsor Rd (aka Sunfish Pond) on 17Aug2018. Gauge at Windsor was 4.6 ft when we put in and about 4/0 when we took out out 1.75 hours later. About 15 minutes in, there's some sort of public works project in progress, maybe a sewer? We did an easy portage around a steel pontoon bridge (sturdy enough for the heavy equipment in use) and a filter sock. Other than that, only exited our boats once, where a previous duck under now required a climb over a log. This was a fun level, (with appropriate boats and skills) with one standing wave big enough to give a lap full of water in an open cockpit. A few obstructions to plow through, duck under, or ram over. Good wildlife - barred owls, great blue herons, orioles, ducks, cedar waxwings.
Aug 16th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Good question Jon...it does seem really odd. Hopefully another reader will chime in with an answer.
Aug 16th, 2018 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
Anybody know why the owner has blocked the circle drive at the former dam with a large forklift? There's an alternate put-in closer to the bridge, and I think the old put-in on the opposite side of the road is still legal. Here's a link to a photo of the forklift, "No Trespassing" sign, plus a photo of the path to the old put-in on the opposite side of the road. https://photos.app.goo.gl/QiLR4sxc1sBgBpZw5
Jun 20th, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Sounds like some of those previous jams were cleared out. Appreciate the update.
Jun 20th, 2018 - Jon from Starkweather Creek
We paddled from Veteran’s Memorial Park (DeForest) to Innovation Drive on 19June2018. USGS gauge at Windsor was at about 3.5 ft when we put in and about 3.4 ft. when we took out a little under 2 hours later. Fun level, and we only exited once to pull over a log. A few tight duck-unders and sneak-throughs.
May 3rd, 2018 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Thanks for the update Jon. It's too bad to hear about those logjams, but that new alert system from the USGS is good news.
May 3rd, 2018 - Jon from Starkweather
Paddled Veteran's Memorial Park to Windsor Road yesterday 02May18. Put in at 1:45 PM, 3.2 ft gauge, about 90 cfs. By the time I took out, gauge was about 2.9 and about 80 cfs. Likely about 2 or 3 portages as of 02May2018 unless you have a short boat (<10 ft.) and skills at sneaking through log jams. At this water level, picking the wrong line can push you into downed trees or overhanging vegetation. As always, assess your skills and be safe. Fortunately, the river is seldom more than waist deep if you need to exit your boat. Great wildlife: 20+ wood ducks, 8+ deer, Sandhills, cardinals and yellowthroats everywhere, big turtle (snapper?),little green and blue herons, mallards, etc. You can now get water alerts via USGS to help catch rivers/streams that crest and recede rapidly: For Windsor gauge: https://water.usgs.gov/wateralert/subscribe2/?site_no=05427718&parm=00065
Jan 25th, 2018 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra
The gauge height on this report should 1.7 ft, not 2.7 ft... sorry for the mistake
Nov 16th, 2017 - admin
Appreciate the update! 32 CFS is another helpful baseline...sounds pretty bumpy but doable which will be help to other paddlers.
Nov 15th, 2017 - Eric G. from Wingra Creek
Just did the section (again from VMP to Innovation Drive with a bike shuttle, The gauge was at about 32 fps and just above 1.7 ft. very nice trip, a lot of wildlife, many ducks, about a dozen muskrats, and 1/2 dozen deer, perhaps because it was almost dusk by the time I got off the river.This is about the exact same conditions I did this trip a few weeks ago, but the water seemed lower. I was scraping bottom quite a bit more, and had to get out at one place that I was able to navigate last trip. Still a great late fall trip for a short (1.75 hours) after work trip.
Oct 27th, 2017 - admin
Thanks Eric for the update! Very interesting to hear you can run it as low as 32 CFS. Yeah, the weather is not looking great for the rest of the year...especially this weekend.
Oct 26th, 2017 - Eric G. from Wingra Creek
Just did the section from VMP to Innovation Drive,with a bike shuttle. The guage was at about 32cfs and 1.7 feet. I only did a short (1.5 hr) trip because I was not able to start until 4pm and it was dusk by the time I got off the river. I was still a great trip on probably one of the last 55+ days of the year. I have never done this trip below about 2 ft, as I read that was about the minimum for an enjoyable trip. While I had fun, I was scrapping bottom a lot and had to do a lot more maneuvering to keep from bottoming out and/or hitting rocks. This was a much more challenging trip than it is a 2 feet, but still very doable if you don't mind a bit of work and/or scraping up your boat. Also There is one small log jam that requires a sharp zig and a zag to get through, that I don't recall from the last time I went down. I didn't have the time to clean it up as it was getting dark
Aug 19th, 2017 - admin
Appreciate the comment and the cleanup work!
Aug 18th, 2017 - Eric G. from Wingra
8/18/17 Just did the paddle/bike shuttle on this section, with a level of about 2.25 ft. I would agree that any shallower would mean a lot of scrapping and hanging up in the shallow riffles, This section is great trip with a good mix of quite water, riffles, and a few drops, with a pretty bike shuttle at the end. I cleared out 2 small jams, there is still one place I had to scoot my kayak under a log while I climbed over, and another that I cleared out a passage way, but there is still a big sweeper to deal with.
Jun 14th, 2017 - Jamie from Yahara River
Sorry, I wrote my comment 2 times. For some reason I thought that it didn't accept the first one but I just noticed now that my comment yesterday is actually on here now. I took out at Linden Dr. (which is right as you've gone past the golf course). It's also right before the Interstate bridge. If you go past that take out I think you will run into a section that's choked with blockages. You could possibly take out at one of the roads by the clubhouse but to do the whole section the only takeout is Linden Dr. Feel free to delete one of my comments if you'd like.
Jun 14th, 2017 - Jamie from Yahara River
Thank you for your write up on this section of the Yahara. I've really enjoyed paddling this section quite a few times now since they started clearing away the blockages a few years ago. I'm surprised you enjoyed the trip at 1.3'. I always keep an eye on the Windsor Golf Course gage after a good rain and my minimum I will make the trip is 1.7'. I know that's only .4'higher but I've found it makes a huge difference. I've paddled this stretch under lots of different depths and found the sweet spot to be 2 feet to 2.75'. I'll paddle anything down to 1.75 but have found that there are too many shallow rocky spots you get hung up on if you go at the normal depth which is about 1.2-1.5'. If it goes much above 3' also I've found that it's a little too fast for my taste since you still need to navigate around boulders and other obstacles. It's a fun little river though. Hope you can get out when it's above 2'. Just keep your eye on the gage after a good rain and make sure to get out there before it recedes (usually within about 24 hours). By the way, I've also done the Lake Windsor Golf Course section. I found it to be a lot of fun. There are some branches to dodge in the early part but I never had to get out of my kayak. I would suggest getting out at Linden Dr. since I hear there is quite a bit of downed trees between the Interstate and Hwy. 19. Not sure if anyone will ever be able to clear those out but I don't think it's maintained at this point. I've heard the Hwy 19- Cherokee Marsh section isn't too bad. Thanks again for your review. I've really enjoyed this section of river but it's got to be done at the right level.
Apr 18th, 2017 - admin
Appreciate the comment Diane!
Apr 18th, 2017 - Diane from Token Creek
Karl, thanks so much for your review! I frequently walk on the Yahara River corridor board walk (including just this morning), and every time I do, I look longingly at this pretty little stretch of the river and wonder how to catch it at just the right level for paddling. (I have read "after a heavy rain", but a little more specific info is always helpful.) Your review is the first time I've seen a minimum water level mentioned for this stretch, and I appreciate this website providing a direct link to the USGS gage. Thanks to all!
Jun 25th, 2016 - admin
Thanks Karl for the update! By chance do you know if they did any clearing after Windsor Road?
Jun 25th, 2016 - Karl K
June 2016 update: I have just gone through the trail with the volunteers from Capitol Water Trails and they have chainsawed down all the blockages and dragged the logs up on the bank. So it's a clear paddle!

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