★ ★

Bark River I

Burnt Village Park to Downtown Fort Atkinson:
In flood conditions, the Bark is a lackluster endeavor – as a slow river gets even slower and swampier – on its journey to the Rock River and eventually into downtown Fort Atkinson.

Bark RiverRating: ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: July 15, 2010

Skill Level: Beginner
Class Difficulty: Flatwater


Recommended Levels:
Water levels are almost always reliable.

Burnt Village County Park, Wisconsin
GPS: 42.91549, -88.77933
Boat landing off Mechanic Street, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
GPS: 42.9289, -88.83879

Time: Put in at 10:00a. Out at 11:30p.
Total Time: 1h 30m
Miles Paddled: 6

What we liked:

This last section of the Bark River, before its confluence with the Rock River, was about what we expected based on other reports we read prior to the trip. It was a slow paddle with a slow-moving current and while it felt secluded, you could almost always hear a vehicle somewhere around you.

Most of this short paddle is spent on the Bark, with only the last mile on the Rock River. The Rock is generally much wider. It’s also immediately developed where the Bark empties into it.

The put-ins and take-outs were easily accessible with plenty of parking. The take-out is technically a public boat landing in downtown Fort Atkinson.

While making our way through swamp-like conditions, we did encounter one very large bald eagle perched low in a tree. He didn’t stay long enough for us to get very close but it was easily the highlight of a rather uneventful trip.

What we didn’t like:
We’re currently dealing with high water on nearly every river in Southern Wisconsin. With seemingly never-ending rain, this one was no exception. It’s suffering from major flooding, which makes for confusing navigation at times. It was often tough to find the main channel or sign of current since there were no apparent banks, just water sitting stagnant for as far as the eye could see on either side. Tree trunks were covered and dense in areas which added to the murky and swamp-like feel.

That said, any day we spend on the water, is a good day.

If we did this trip again:
We have no desire to do this river again at these levels. If it’s lower or normal, we may reconsider.

Related Information:
Bark River II: Merton to Highway 83
Bark River III: Highway 83 to Delafield Road
Bark River IV: Highway 164 to Merton
Bark River V: County Road E to Hagedorn Road
Bark River VI: Sugar Island Road to Atkins-Olson Memorial Park
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Video: Wisconsin Paddles
Wikipedia: Bark River

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Ben Fitch
    July 16, 2023 at 9:13 am

    With how low everything has been, I’ve been searching for more nice spots where there’s always enough water (a good idea for a website section or review tag would be drought paddles!). With 50 cfs on the Rome gage, this was a pleasant paddle, albeit a tad boring due to the extremely minimal current. No problems navigating like described above at higher levels. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/05426250/#parameterCode=00060&period=P7D

    Next up is Koch Road to Burnt Village Park — looks like the current picks up a little and the water clarity gets better.

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