Busseyville to Lake Koshkonong:
A trip not for the faint of heart due to constant obstacle-maneuvering, deadfall and corners, including a few blow-downs which require portaging. The trips ends in a way-finders dream though, through flooded woods and a mile or two of open water paddling.
By Trevor Bellrichard & ‘A’
Miles Paddled contributors
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: July 20, 2017
Skill Level: Beginner
Class Difficulty: Flatwater
≈1′ per mile
There is no gauge for Koshkonong Creek. We paddled after a heavy rain and the creek was more than 5′ deep in many places. It may be difficult in an extended dry period.
Time: Put in at 4:50p. Out at 6:55p.
Total Time: 2h 5m
Miles Paddled: 4.5
Four deer, including one nice buck (eh?), 15 wood ducks, 4 herons, 3 geese, evidence of turtles, many minnows and unidentified swirling fish on the lake.
This trip down the last legs of Koshkonong Creek before its arrival at Lake Koshkonong was a hastily planned bushwhack into the wilds outside of the sprawling metropolis of Busseyville. Long ago, a friend told me he flipped his canoe several times in this creek. He also said the current was “crazy” and since then, I’ve been dying to give it a try. After the fact, he may have misremembered the body of water he was on… or maybe he’s just a much poorer canoeist than I realized?
The only chance anyone has of capsizing on this stretch of Koshkonong Creek is if you lose your balance scooting over one of the many logs/trees/branches that lie just below the surface. Some are easily handled at “ramming speed”, while others require some finesse. They all, however, require your attention and if that lapses, you’ll be in for a frustrating paddle.
Both accesses were good, starting with the put-in which is at the southside of the Highway 106 bridge in Busseyville. There you’ll find easy access to the creek. Parking is available across the street at Busseyville Park. You will, however, need to drop your stuff on the edge of 106 or walk it across from the park.
The creek itself resides 100% in a lowland forest until it hits Lake Koshkonong. Wildlife was around every corner and the afternoon light gave the woods and creek a storybook feel. It was only when we would come to a dead stop on a log (and thinking we were going to tip over) when that trance would be briefly broken, but the idyllic feelings quickly returned. A few times the creek would aimlessly channel right, left and straight ahead – all at the same time. Each path appeared to hold a current which made making a decision head-scratching. Though, after studying the area for a moment, the main channel always became clear.
Three-quarters of the way to the lake, however, the creek split in many directions. We took the path that appeared to have the fewest obstructions which wasn’t easy in of itself. Once through the thick stuff we found ourselves in a flooded forest, positive we were no longer in the river channel. No worries though, because the lake can be seen through the trees ahead (there was really no way to screw this part of the trip up). Stay in the water and you’ll make it.
Once we were through the woods, we were greeted with pond-calm conditions on Lake Koshkonong. This lake can be dangerous to small boats, keep an eye on the wind before attempting. We enjoyed a few miles of open water paddling on our way to our take out point, Norm’s Hideaway. Norm’s has a great dock and boat launch that’s not often used, but easy to get out and get your affairs in order without the pressure of boat trailers and motorists. Parking is also plentiful at Norm’s. Afterwards, we recommend heading in for a much deserved drink.
What we liked:
Attempting to paddle this creek after several weeks of epic downpours and a thunderstorm the night before, we expected the worst. And while it might not have been awesome in every way, we really enjoyed this trip, and being people who like filling in blank spots on a map, this paddle got us excited.
What we didn’t like:
There wasn’t much we didn’t like, but we have been called crazy in the past. I would not recommend this paddle after an extended dry period. I believe the scoot-overs would become pull-overs and turn an idyllic romp into a slogging nightmare. Somehow, amazingly, we didn’t get bit by many mosquitoes – we have no idea how or why we got so lucky as this area may be where every mosquito in the county is born (and this trip would have been hellish had we been being bitten the entirety of it).
If we did this trip again:
Do not attempt this trip unless your sense of adventure is averse to being put in laughably difficult positions/conditions.