S. Concord Road to County Road P:
A glacial stream featuring crystal clear water and a sand-gravel bottom with a couple boulders, small ledges, and precious little development along the way. While not necessarily spectacular, this last section of the Oconomowoc River is sure to please.
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: June 25, 2011
There is no gauge for the Oconomowoc River but water levels tend to be pretty reliable. Consult the Bark River gauge in nearby Delafield for recent rainfall or high/low water levels.
Time: Put in at 1:10p. Out at 5:10p.
Total Time: 4h
Miles Paddled: 15
8 miles. County Road P East. Right on Rockvale Road. Quick left on Ski Slide Road, then right back onto Rockvale Road. Rockvale turns into Marks Road (at which point you’re no longer in Jefferson County, but Waukesha). Turn right on West Wisconsin Avenue/Highway 16. Right on South Elm Street. Cross train tracks. Left on West Highland Avenue. Right on South Park Street. South Park Street yields into Concord Road Bridge over river, immediately after.
What we liked:
A very pleasant river in southeastern Wisconsin. I was hoping for a backdrop of rolling hills – this is Kettle Moraine country in Oconomowoc after all – and looking forward to a river I knew virtually nothing about. I stopped counting after the 15th sighting of a blue heron (and it wasn’t the same one spotted fifteen times either); they were everywhere. Mostly clear water with many engaging bends (but only few of those hairpin types the likes of the Mecan or Kickapoo). Accessible put-ins and take-outs. A quick, direct bike shuttle. The Rock, leading to the County Road P bridge (and presumably past it), had great steady current with some nice riffles.
What we didn’t like:
The ambient din of I-94 is a near constant along the trip, especially around the Elm Drive and County Road F bridges (after the latter bridge, the interstate is only 250 or so meters away). Or if not the whirl of wheels, the motor of lawnmowers; suburban houses dot the landscape more often than not. The hills I had been hoping for were lackluster at best. After the County Road F bridge the river became significantly shallow – in a muddy bottoms, with highway billboards in full view, loud traffic sound; a lot of overall muck to slog through.
I am a sucker for rivers flowing into one another. I decided to tack an additional 2.5 miles onto the trip in order to paddle in the confluence of the Oconomowoc into the Rock because of this usual thrill. But the moment of merging was quite anticlimactic. The Rock comes on the river-right, relative the Oconomowoc, and it came suddenly with no ado. In fact, I thought I was just on the left side of an island until I realized, no, that’s actually the Rock I’m coming into. And the Rock at that point was flat and rather dull until about a mile upstream of the take-out, where it finally gained some good flow.
If we did this trip again:
I would if a friend wanted to, but probably not on my own again. I’m glad I experienced it, but it’s not necessarily worth the drive out there (from Madison at least). Besides, there are many more rivers to explore and miles to paddle before I sleep.
Oconomowoc River II: Wisconsin Avenue to Fowler Lake Park
Oconomowoc River III: Monches to Okauchee Lake
Article: Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Map: Mid-Kettle Moraine