Kayak your way through Jefferson County

Published On: Wednesday, March 24, 2021By Categories: Insights, Outdoor RecreationTags: , , , , ,

Living in Jefferson County has its perks, and one of them is having access to water recreation in nearly every community in the county. Kayaking our rivers and lakes is a must for paddling enthusiasts.

The Rock River

Kayak in the Rock River

The Rock River runs the entirety of Jefferson County, and offers one big playground for kayakers. Put-in and take-out locations are abundant in the county, so it’s easy to control the length of the trip. Much of the river runs through rural landscape, offering tours of wooded terrain, with some sections going by farm fields and marshy areas. It is typical to encounter a variety of birds, heron, Canada geese, turtles, bald eagles, and even deer will make an appearance.

The calm waters are also an excellent opportunity for stand-up paddle boards. Glide through the river with ease, exploring both sides of shore as you go.

Stand-up paddle board on the Rock River

The rural routes are full of tranquility, but paddling through Jefferson County communities is also an option. Kayak through Watertown, Jefferson, and Fort Atkinson. All three provide excellent stops with shopping, dining, and historical sites to see.

Crawfish River

The Crawfish River is a tributary of the Rock River and is an excellent place for beginning kayakers. The current is slow, the paddling is easy, but the scenery is serene and full of wildlife encounters.

Lake Ripley

Kaykers on Lake Ripley by Jackie Johnson

Photo Cred: Jackie Johnson

Rivers aren’t the only water source to paddle.  Lake Ripley in Cambridge is another great option. Launch at the beach at Ripley Park, Island Lane boat launch, or Marina Lane boat launch. Check out Vasby channel, which is a no-motor area and chock full of turtles, lily pads, birds, dragon flies and a small bridge to paddle under. It’s horse-shoe shaped, so you go in one end and come out the other back into Lake Ripley. While in Cambridge, give Koshkonong Creek a try. Launch near downtown Cambridge on Water Street. Meander through Camrock County Park, lush with trees and a shallow rocky creek.

Lake Koshkonong

If you’re looking for a full day of recreation that includes more than just paddling, visit Lake Koshkonong. The lake is known for its great fishing year-round. There are four boat landings around the lake for people to use and also two beaches. Scenic nature trails can be found around the Lake Koshkonong region, perfect for hiking and bird watching. Winter activities abound with snowmobiling, fat bike riding, and ice skating.

Rock Lake

Kayak on Rock Lake

Another great lake experience is Rock Lake in Lake Mills. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings, and public beaches. You can easily make a full day of your adventures on Rock Lake. Swim and take some time to lounge on the beach while here.

See you soon!

Choose your own paddling adventure in Jefferson County. Flow with the river or enjoy the lake scene. For additional recreational opportunities, visit enjoyjeffersoncounty.com


Robin Kaufmann is the Tourism Manager for the city of Watertown. She eats, sleeps, and breathes travel in her personal and professional life. She is the voice of Watertown Tourism, and the Facebook specialist for Enjoy Jefferson County Tourism.


Sprouting Acres contest winner June 2022


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