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. Snowmelt can make the rivers fast-flowing in the spring, so new paddlers might want to practice their skills on a quiet Vilas County lake. Vilas County outfitters can give you some great paddling advice and will rent you a nice and stable canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard that’s perfect for a new paddler. The Map It Vilas County trails app will point you to some paddling routes perfect for a canoeing or kayaking adventure. A good, calm place for a first paddle is Little Rice Lake, located just east of Boulder Junction. This small lake 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. You have to head into the forest a bit but it’s well worth the drive – it’s located off Butternut Lake Road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.


Vilas County offers endless options for spring paddling adventures. If you’re looking to send the day on the water, or perhaps just complete a paddle that can be finished before lunch, Vilas County has routes that are perfect. There are dozens of carry-in boat landings on Vilas County’s lakes; just grab your canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard and hit the water. A few carry-in lakes worth the trip include Adelade Lake in Winchester, Clear Lake in Manitowish Waters, Fallison Lake in Boulder Junction and Sugar Maple Lake in Phelps. If you would like to cover a little more ground, consider one of the Northern Highland-American Legion Canoe Routes detailed on the Map It Vilas County trails app. 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. The routes run from Manitowish Waters past Boulder Junction.


If you’re comfortable in faster moving spring water and are the type of paddler who likes to cover some miles, Vilas County has some routes you’ll love. This is a place where you can explore places just as wild and beautiful as they were during the days of Voyageurs. If you’re looking to add a little hike to your paddling trip, consider the Guido Rahr Sr. Tenderfoot Forest Preserve Trail. Enter at the boat landing on Palmer Lake, then take a scenic trip over to Tenderfoot Lake to explore the undeveloped shorelines of Tenderfoot Lake, Roach Lake and Mirror Lake. Two routes detailed on the Map It Vilas County trails app include the Wisconsin River Centennial 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?

Download the Map It Vilas County trails app today.
See all Vilas County public-access lakes here.