Paddling The Lemonweir River from Mauston | Lemonweir River Series
The Lemonweir River offers a variety of excursion options upstream and downstream from Mauston as it meanders through the heart of Juneau County before joining up with the Wisconsin River.
The section from Mauston to Lemonweir Mills is a great place to start your exploration of this hidden gem with its meandering path and gentle flow. The trip takes about 3 to 3 ½ hours and is suitable for all paddling levels.
What You’ll See:
The riverbank of this section is completely forested for the whole route with only a few cabins along the way. The landscape is hardwood floodplain with lots of maples, birches and river birch on the shoreline and white pine and oaks on higher ground. The river bottom is mostly sandy with a little silt along the shore. Several sandbars are available for picnicking.
As you go down the river, you are likely to see eagles, deer, muskrat, ducks, heron, sandhill cranes and other wildlife.
In Mauston, put in your canoe or kayak across the road from Shopko on the north bank of the Lemonweir river below the dam. There is a very obvious small riffle (rapids) just downstream but the rest of the trip is an easy paddle without any obstructions or other rapids. To completely avoid the small rapids below the dam, you can put in on the other (south) side of the river off of Water Street.
Your shuttle vehicle, to pick up the canoe or kayaks at the end of the river trip, can be parked at the 19th Street bridge, known as Lemonweir Mills. To get to the Lemonweir Mills boat landing go east on Highway 82 (under Interstate 90/94) about three miles to 19th Ave. Follow the boat landing sign by turning right onto 19th Ave. Go approximately one mile to the boat landing on the south side of the river where there is a parking area.
Headed downstream from the put-in at the dam in downtown Mauston, the Lemonweir river makes a long straightaway for about a mile to where One Mile Creek enters from river right under a bridge. The river then commences to make a large S-shaped loop as it passes under the Interstate 90/94 Bridge. From this point to Lemonweir Mills the river begins its classic meandering path with many sloughs and oxbows along the way.
There are several places where it is not obvious where the channel is located, so you might find you have paddled into a dead-end slough. But you can always backtrack to find the channel.
Tip! One way to avoid this dilemma of getting lost is to watch the underwater weeds, where available, to see which way the weeds are bending. The weeds bent by the current are pointing downstream-the way you want to go.
Be sure to follow the current and you will stay in the main channel all the way to Lemonweir Mills. The boat landing at the Lemonweir Mills, after going under the bridge, is on the south side of the Lemonweir river (river right).
Contributed by Ray Feldman
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