Canoeing and Kayaking Water Trails in Wisconsin
With more than 15,000 lakes, 43,000 miles of rivers, and 659 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, there is no shortage of paddling opportunities in Wisconsin. Water trails provide a network of access points, resting places and attractions for users of water craft on lakes and rivers. In Wisconsin, some trails are interpretive routes, some take paddlers to campsites, some connect communities, but all allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of our state by this original mode of transportation.
Canoeing on the Brule River.
The following parks and forests have specific mapped or marked water trail routes.
- Big Bay State Park - Lake Superior Water Trail
- Brule River State Forest
- Buckhorn State Park
- Flambeau River State Forest
- Northern Highand-American Legion State Forest
- Perrot State Park
- Peshtigo River State Forest
- Wyalusing State Park
A specially adapted kayak is available for use by people with disabilities at Buckhorn, Devil's Lake, Mirror Lake, and Perrot state parks.
Wisconsin's Wild and Scenic Rivers are great places to paddle.
- Lower Wisconsin State Riverway water trails
- Wisconsin's Wild and Scenic Rivers
- Pine and Popple Wild Rivers
- Pike Wild River
- Totagatic Wild River
- National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
Canoeing on the Kickapoo River near Wildcat Mountain State Park.
Photo © WI Department of Tourism
- Capitol Water Trails (Dane County)
- Jefferson County Waterways
- Kickapoo River
- Lake Michigan Water Trail
- Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
- Milwaukee Urban Water Trail
- Rhinelander Whitewater Trail
- Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway
- Yahara Waterways Trail (Madison)
Are you working on a water trail project? We'd love to hear about it. Contact the state trails coordinator.
Several of Wisconsin's state trails are ideal for bike and paddle trips. Sections of these former rail corridors parallel rivers and streams. You can paddle downstream and then bike back to your starting point or vice versa. Most of these trails require a state trail pass for bikers age 16 and older.
- 400 State Trail (Baraboo River)
- Ahnapee State Trail (Ahnapee River)
- Chippewa River State Trail
- Great River State Trail (Mississippi River)
- Oconto River State Trail
- Old Abe State Trail (Chippewa River)
- Red Cedar State Trail (Red Cedar River)
- Sugar River State Trail
- American Whitewater
- River Alliance of Wisconsin – dams
- River Alliance of Wisconsin – water trails
- National Park Service – Rivers and Trails Program
- UW Extension – Lakes Program
- Wisconsin Association of Lakes
- Wisconsin boat and developed fishing shore access
- Wisconsin Department of Tourism - paddlesports
- Iowa water trails
- Minnesota water trails