As much as I tried to focus on the work, the river kept drawing me elsewhere. It wanders lazily between the bluffs of the Kickapoo Valley and lulls you into casual sightseeing – until an approaching deadfall sets you to paddling and you realize this river has some spunk.
The river’s wayward path sent my GPS navigator into a state of confusion, first telling us that we’re approaching a waypoint, and then retreating. Make up your mind.
But the meandering route allows you to explore more of the valley, from giant sugar maples and black walnuts leaning over the water to open pastures that reveal the surrounding landscape. Rounding a bend, a flock of geese spotted us and danced across the water before taking flight.
The upper Kickapoo River is known for spectacular canoeing, wandering from Wilton past the peaks of Wildcat Mountain State Park near Ontario and through the forests of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve at La Farge. The river’s abrupt turns offers the canoeist a new perspective of the valley at every bend. Ontario and La Farge boast several canoe outfitters eager to make your experience on the river a memorable one.
The lower Kickapoo River is more challenging and just as rewarding, as it snakes through numerous deadfalls. The river visits the communities of Readstown, Soldiers Grove, Gays Mills, and Wauzeka on its way to join the Wisconsin River. Wauzeka Canoe Rental serves the lower end of the river.
For those of you with your own canoe or kayak, you’ll find boat landings, picnic areas, and campgrounds at most river towns. So now it’s your turn to put in – to launch and let the river take you.