★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Badfish Creek I

Cooksville to Murwin County Park:
Highly regarded but not well known, our first visit to Badfish Creek was nothing short of wonderful. It’s a twisty, riffly little ride on a mostly secluded creek that eventually meets up with the much larger Yahara River.

Badfish CreekRating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: May 17, 2009

Class Difficulty:

Cooksville: ht/ft: n/a | cfs: 164

Recommended Levels:
This is a very recommendable level.

Highway 138, Cooksville, Wisconsin
Murwin County Park, Fulton, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 11:15a. Out at 3:00p.
Total Time: 3h 45m
Miles Paddled: 11.5

What we liked:

Our first paddle down the Badfish Creek far exceeded expectations. It’s the kind of creek we could kayak or canoe over and over. It’s narrow and riffly, with enough wildlife, sandbars and curves to keep things interesting.

We had only recently heard about Badfish Creek from this video and then this article before heading to the Edgerton area. They both made good cases for making the trip, which made it a priority on our early-season paddling destination list.

We put in under the bridge in Cooksville (Population: a couple of people) which wasn’t the most manicured of put-ins but accessible nonetheless.

The creek was riffly and the current was swift but the water was higher than normal so we’re looking forward to seeing how different water levels affect the paddling on return visits. The creek alternates from canopy-covered to open-prairie with a remote feel at times but civilization is never too far away (only the hum of a passing vehicle could be heard here and there).

Eventually, the Badfish empties into the Yahara River so the last half of this trip was spent on the much wider Yahara. We took out at Murwin County Park which is a great park to picnic and end the journey.

What we didn’t like:
The main issue with the Badfish is the cholorine-like factor. At times I thought we were kayaking in a pool as the scent was a bit intoxicating at times.

From Collecting MadVideos: Paddling the Badfish Creek: “Another great, or not so great thing about the Badfish, depending upon your perspective, is that it can almost always be paddled as long as you start by 9:30 a.m. and are off the river by 2. The reason for this weird schedule is that the creek receives most of its water from the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District, which follows this schedule of releases every day. Some people find this disquieting, but the water quality has always seemed extremely good with only the occasional whiff of chlorine to indicate its origin.”

Lastly, the Yahara, traditionally our favorite paddle (until we met the Badfish), is a very different paddle in high water. The spring rain really turned this cozy stream into a wide and rather boring paddle.

If we did this trip again:
This was hands-down, the best day-trip we’ve experienced in Southern Wisconsin yet. This creek has tons of riffles and the current was swift. This is a paddle we’ll be doing again and again but we might start a little further upstream (1.25 miles) and take out at one of the bridges on the Yahara if the water is still high.

Related Information:
Badfish Creek Overview: Badfish Creek Paddle Guide
Badfish Creek II: Old Stage Road to Highway 59
Badfish Creek III: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek IV: Old Stone Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek V: Old Stage Road to County Road H
Badfish Creek VI: Sunrise Road to Old Stone Road
Badfish Creek VII: County Road B to Sunrise Road
Article: Paddling the Badfish Creek
Good People: Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed

Photo Gallery:

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  • Reply
    October 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Just so you know, the odor on the Badfish (one of my favorite paddles too) is not chlorine. The effluent from MMSD is treated with UV, not chemicals. According to MMSD, the odor is simply the non-toxic scent that all treated effluent gives off. (At Cooksville, the creek's flow is approximately 60% effluent.) I agree that it's a little disconcerting, but the beauty of the creek and the fun of paddling it far outweigh the odor's nuisance factor.

  • Reply
    Miles Paddled
    October 29, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Couldn't agree more, it's our favorite paddle in Southern Wisconsin. Thanks for the detailed information on the water!

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