Choosing a favorite place to kayak in Lake Country is a lot like choosing a favorite song. Oftentimes, it just depends on the mood.
Sometimes a lazy afternoon paddling around a calm lake is just right. Other times, battling the current of a high river is the challenge of the day.
Whatever type of paddling experience kayakers are looking for, Lake Country has variety in spades, according to local kayakers.
From Monches down to Dousman, there is a variety of paddling experiences available for novices to more adventurous kayakers, said John McDaniels, who owns Aquarius Sail in the city of Pewaukee.
McDaniels said he and his wife used to take their kayaks every weekend and explore the different waterways in Lake Country.
“Every Sunday, in the afternoon, we would go to a different lake,” McDaniels said. “The nice things with kayaks is they’re very portable.”
One of his favorite things was discovering connections between lakes, such as the connection from Upper Nemahbin Lake to Lower Nashotah Lake, which then is a short portage to Upper Nashotah Lake.
“There are lots of little things that you can find and see,” he said.
Tom Steinbach, who leads the Oconomowoc Watershed Protection Program, hosts several paddling events around Oconomowoc each year. He said one of his favorite kayak routes starts on Fowler Lake and and goes up the Oconomowoc River to Oconomowoc Lake.
The river current can be challenging for some, Steinbach said, so sometimes a leisurely paddle around Fowler Lake is a perfect trip.
“Fowler Lake is a nice lake to paddle around. It’s not too big, it’s not affected by wind too much,” he said. “It’s pretty easy going.”
Lake Country has plenty of well-known kayak launches, such as Lakefront Park in the village of Pewaukee and the Fowler Lake shoreline behind city hall.
We asked experienced paddlers in Lake Country for their favorite spots that tend to be off the beaten path.
One of Steinbach’s favorite places to put his kayak in is the Oconomowoc River near the South Concord Road bridge. It’s a short trip north to Lac La Belle, and paddlers can head south into a more natural setting.
Steinbach recommended planning for the river’s current, which, if too strong, could make for a difficult outing.
“The river has pretty good current in it right now, so you wouldn’t want to go too far upstream,” he said.
Michael Schmelzer, the manager of Nomad Boardsports in Summit, said he likes to put in right where he works.
Located at 34422 Delafield Road, Nomad is situated directly between lower and upper Nemahbin and a short paddle to the Bark River.
With all the options, Schmelzer said his favorite is Lower Nemahbin Lake.
“There’s a bunch of nature. There are islands to go on. There are trails through the trees to the Bark River,” he said. “There’s a little more nature and serenity involved.”
When McDaniel wants to kayak deep in nature, he heads north to Monches. There, he puts his kayak in at a small river and paddles north to Loew Lake. Being away from civilization lets his imagination run wild.
“There are lots of little things that you can find and see,” McDaniel said. “You can sort of imagine that you’re on some adventure.”
Overall, McDaniel said, any time you can kayak is a good time.
“They’re all fun,” he said. “I always tell people any time you’re on the water, it sort of recharges your batteries, and you’re ready to go.”