The Fox and Pewaukee Rivers in Waukesha County offer many scenic and peaceful paddling opportunities to tour by canoe or kayak. If you are considering a paddling trip, keep in mind these helpful tips and a few routes.
The Fox River is considered to be fairly easy to navigate throughout the season. Some shallowness with deadfall can be found upstream of Waukesha, and downstream you can count on a few wood obstructions but nothing that will cause problems for any level of experienced paddler. The river can run narrow, where you will enjoy plenty of twists and turns, bringing you into a more forested area – sometimes completely covered overhead by a lush canopy of trees! In general, you will find the route to be a slow-current waterway.
The Pewaukee River runs shallow but if you catch the water levels right, you can enjoy a mix of marsh, woodland, town and even a few rapid paddling opportunities. The Pewaukee River connects to the Fox River after Redford Blvd. (Cnty. Hwy. F) and the bridge runs low.
Pewaukee River, Pewaukee to Waukesha: One way is 6 miles and 2 hours
Put in your canoe or kayak at Koepp Park or the area across from 321 Riverside Drive in the village of Pewaukee. The river slowly meanders through wetlands with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Take out at Frame Park in the city of Waukesha. Keep in mind you may run into some low water in some areas. In the case of high water, the I-94 bridge may become impassable.
Fox River Parkway: Plan on 2-4 miles and 2-4 hours
Drop in at Bethesda Park off of College Avenue, along Riverwalk Drive, or by the E.B. Shurts building in Waukesha and enjoy the easy stretch along the river. Continue through a residential area and an easy to navigate waterway. Water levels can get high near Hwy 59, so keep this in mind when planning your excursion.
Fox River, Hwy 59 to Vernon Marsh: One way is 5-10 miles and 3-6 hours
Here the launch point is at Hwy 59 and the Fox River Parkway. This trip has few obstacles and will take you through a residential development and some heavy wooded areas with awesome wildlife viewing opportunities. You can take your watercraft out at the five-mile point at the CTH I bridge in Waukesha or double back
Frame Park Downtown Waukesha
If you do not have a canoe or kayak you can rent one at High Roller Run Rental and take a quick paddle on the Fox River in Frame Park near Downtown Waukesha. Enjoy the beauty of the Formal Gardens, a riverside picnic, or rent a bike to ride the pathways in the park. From Frame Park you can follow the river walk into Downtown Waukesha and enjoy street side to roof-top dining, tasty treats from gelato to flavored kettle corn and check out a variety of boutique and antique shops.
The City of Waukesha Park Recreation and Forestry has placed two new kayak launches in Frame Park, offering stable and dry entry into the river for all, including a transfer bench for independent and secure launches for those with limited accessibility.
Follow these four route options with this handy Google Map.
More Miles of Paddling in Southern Wisconsin
If you are looking for even more paddling routes in Southern Wisconsin, be sure to check out this local website called Miles Paddled which documents first-hand experiences with many routes. This is another resource from Lake Country Family Fun, sharing information on all the lakes in “Lake Country” in Waukesha County.
Bonus: if you are looking for other water sport rentals for kayaks, canoes and SUP (stand up paddle boards), contact one of these local places: Beachside Boat & Bait, High Roller Fun Rentals, Koha Yoga Standup Paddleboarding, or Smokey’s Muskie Shop.