14 Oct Kayaking the Kinnickinnic River
The morning air was cool and crisp as we floated underneath a canopy of trees. Located in western Wisconsin, the Kinnickinnic River, or Kinni for short, is a 22 mile long river, and we were paddling a three-hour portion of the river.
We had purchased a Groupon deal to rent kayaks through Kinni Creek Lodge, and the summer flew by without us redeeming our trip. So in a last dodge effort to savor any remaining bits of summer that were left, we booked our adventure for the beginning of October.
Everyone else must have been at school or work because we were the only crazies to be seen on the river that morning. We gathered our gear and hopped into the Kinni Creek Lodge van; after a short 10-minute drive, we were at our launching point. Next up was unloading the kayaks, and then we were set free to navigate the river on our own.
There are a variety of tour options, but they are set up as more of a rental than a guided expedition—you won’t be sent off with a guide, and you are allowed to explore and take your time on the river. You can choose from the Upper Kinni River or the Lower Kinni River and also the length of time you would like to paddle. The tours last from 1.5 all the way to 6+ hours.
We chose the three-hour tour on the Upper Kinni River. The current was on the slow side, but there were plenty of trees, rocks and small rapids interfering in our path to keep us alert and entertained. The river is also home to some class I rapids! The rapids were nothing to be worried about, as they were all pretty small, but it definitely added some excitement to our adventure.
Side note: it’s very difficult to paddle on a river while attempting to take photos. I ended up going down one of the rapids backwards because I couldn’t put the camera down quick enough! It was quite comical.
The only downfall about the river is the low water level–it is naturally a fairly low level river. I’m not sure if our visit was an average day, but there were plenty of instances where we bottomed out in a couple inches of water. Thankfully, we were able to wiggle our way through without having to actually portage our kayaks, but it was a bit frustrating to say the least.
Most of the river portion that we paddled was covered in gorgeous, low hanging trees. Every once in awhile, we would cross under a bridge or hear cars nearby, but it was a relatively peaceful trip overall.
Towards the end of the river, we started to pass by several homes, but lucky for us, we didn’t see a single person all day. I’ve heard the river can get quite busy in the summer, so a weekday trip might be a good option.
Even though we didn’t spot any people, we did happen to come across a huge bald eagle! It was gorgeous, and I can only imagine it was laughing at us as we tried to paddle in circles so we could get a photo before the current carried us away.
My favorite part of the river was the trees, rocks and other obstacles we encountered along the way—it was so different than our normal kayaking adventures on a lake. So I would say, if you don’t mind scraping the bottom of the kayak a bit or portaging, the Kinni River makes for a perfect day soaking up the outdoors!
Where is your favorite spot to go kayaking?