Adventure: paddling

Learn more about paddling


If you’re new to paddling, you’ve come to the right place. Vilas County has more than 1,300 lakes and 73 rivers and streams. You’ll find quiet waters perfect for practicing your paddling skills. If you’d like a gentle start to your adventure, practice paddling in a shallow lake. It can be reassuring to know you’re floating in waist-deep waters. Vilas County outfitters will not only rent you a canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard, they’ll share valuable tips and advice. A good place for a first paddle is Little Rice Lake, located just east of Boulder Junction. This little 50-acre gem is just 7 feet deep at its deepest point. Another place to find quiet water is Upper Ninemile Lake east of Eagle River. This 108-acre lake has a maximum depth of just 5 feet. It’s located off Butternut Lake Road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.


Vilas County offers endless options for day paddling adventures. If you’re looking to spend the day on the water – or perhaps just complete a paddle that can be finished before lunch – Vilas County has routes that are perfect. For a quick paddle, consider Brandy Lake and Arrowhead Lake in the Minocqua area. They are small lakes, nice for a morning float. Highway 51 runs between the two lakes, so when you’re ready for lunch head ashore. You’ll find plenty of dining options nearby. If you would like to cover a little more ground, consider one of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest canoe routes detailed on the Vilas County Silent Sports Trail Map. There’s a 7.5-mile-route that takes about four hours to complete and a 6.1-mile-route that takes about three hours to complete.


If paddling is not just an activity for you but a lifestyle, welcome to the good life. Vilas County has been home to paddlers for centuries. This is a place where you can explore places just as wild and beautiful as they were during the days of Voyageurs. You won’t run out of paddling options – one could spend a season exploring Vilas County’s backwaters and not begin to touch all the beautiful places to launch a boat. Vilas County is home to the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, and it has longer-haul routes that are great to explore. Two routes detailed on the Vilas County Silent Sports Trail Map include the Wisconsin River Centennial Trail Trips. Trip 1 covers 25 miles, from Lac Vieux Desert near Land O’ Lakes south to Conover. Continuing south, Trip 2 heads south and west past Eagle River covering 23 miles. Together, the two legs total more than 20 hours of paddling. Enjoy!


Want more paddling info?

Order the Vilas County Silent Sports Trail Map today for more paddling routes.
See all Vilas County public access waterways here.