Spring Creek
★ ★ ★

Spring Creek

By on April 25, 2013

Fair Street to County Road V
☆ ☆ ☆

A somewhat grueling paddle prone to a lot of logjams that will need to be portaged but an otherwise charming little creek in a lovely environment of rolling hills, the highlight of which is finishing in a quaint bay teeming with wildlife diversity, most notable of which is a flock of pelicans.

April 20, 2013

Class Difficulty:
Riffles + Two modest ledges

Lodi: n/a
Gauge note: We have no record of the gauge levels on this day.

Recommended Levels:
We recommend a level between 4.5’-5’ on the NOAA gauge.

Fair Street, (by the water treatment plant) Lodi, Wisconsin
County Road V (at the bay)

Time: Not recorded
Total Time: 4h
Miles Paddled: 5.25

Wildlife: Pelicans, sandhill cranes, osprey, snowy egrets, mergansers, bald eagles, coots, loons and geese.
Time worth driving to: 2 hours (for the wildlife in the bay, not the creek).

Let me make this disclaimer: I am very glad I did this paddle but I’d probably need to be talked into doing it again (or bribed). Disclaimer number two: I had a great time with three other paddling buddies but I would have been grumbling had I done it alone.

What we liked:
While I knew a little about the creek than runs through the Lodi Marsh and into town, I hadn’t ever really considered paddling it. I love the Lodi area, so when my friend proposed the trip and then enticed me with the probability of seeing pelicans, I didn’t think twice about it. Spring Creek has a nice clear sandy bottom, as evidenced by the number of large clams living there. There are two ledges that add welcome, though unexpected thrills, the first of which is safe and easy, the second requiring a bit more caution. Deadfall straddles the entire width of the creek but for one easy-to-see slot at the edge of the ledge but you will need to duck under the deadfall, which makes running a foot-high drop a little awkward.

Without question the best part of this trip is the end. The intimate wooded area slowly opens out onto a marsh which then turns ends into a bay, where immediately you will happen upon all sorts of wildlife. In our case, a flock of pelicans, an osprey, three blue herons and four bald eagles. There are a lot of tight turns and stops that mark the trip until you get to the marsh. But once there everything opens up, it’stotally clear and placid. The contrast was a gift. After all the wrenching twists, portaging, pulling boats over deadfall and sawing off tree limbs in the leaf-canopied shade, suddenly you are basking in the sun, able to just float and take in all those crazy pelicans. Pelicans!?! In Wisconsin!

What we didn’t like:
There are a lot of logjams, many of them impassable. Some of the jams could be cleared out or sawed off but many need to be portaged. Only after fifty yards or so from the very put-in itself you will already need to portage. Get used to it. There are also several strands of wire you will need to climb under, some electric (though I don’t think there is current) and some barbed (a lot of it camouflaged by grass and weeds and detectable only at the last minute, unless you know where to look for them). There is a considerable amount of litter too, (as this stretch is downstream from the public park in Lodi) mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles and I kid you not, no fewer than four very water-logged neon softballs.

If we did this trip again:
Unless the friend who first suggested this paddle bribes me, I don’t know if I’d paddle it again. That said, I will definitely mark mid-spring on the calendar each year and paddle the bay (which is part of Lake Wisconsin) to watch the wildlife. However, I will probably put-in above Lake Wisconsin (which is just the swollen backflow of the Wisconsin River dammed at Prairie du Sac). But if nothing else, I strongly recommend just putting in at the bay and paddling around to see all the winged wonders.

Related Information:
Good People: Friends of Scenic Lodi Valley


Shuttle Information:

5 miles.

Photo Gallery:


  • In 2010 the "Friends of Scenic Lodi Valley" actually had a cleanup and the creek was navigable all the way from Lodi to Okee bay. Sounds like it has filled up since then 🙁 Was hoping to do this creek this summer when the leaves were out but sounds like the trip was a downer? What if one shortens the trip from the last bridge to the Wisconsin? There is a hidden public fishing hole/"kayak landing" on the east side of the last 113 bridge…would that be pretty clear to the river?

  • Hi Aaron,

    I'm glad to hear that "Friends of Scenic Lodi Valley" is still active and dedicated! I'm sure the group is never thanked enough for your tireless work (sometimes literally removing tires). I don't mean to give paddling Spring Creek a bad rap. One person's favorite paddle is another's annoyance. By contrast, my friend who suggested and more or less led this trip positively loves it. For my taste it required too many portages and hazards, and I want others to know what they would be getting into before doing it. Yes, the creek has definitely filled in with a lot of deadfall and logjams, which were a nuisance to be sure, but no biggie especially when with friends.

    To answer your specific question, I think you should be all clear from the last 113 bridge and into the bay/lake/river. At best you might tangle with a couple branches and whatnot, but I remember that last leg as generally open and relaxed.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for commenting and thanks again for helping to keep our waterways open and clean.


  • William Petersen

    I live within miles of this little stream. I paddle in the Lodi Marsh Wildlife Area on Spring Creek, mostly in the winter. I have put in at the spring near the wildlife area access on Lee Road. Clear spring water, but shallow and before long, there is a wooded area and downed trees. A better place to put in is walking in from the Ice Age Trail parking lot off of Riddle Road. It is about a quarter mile portage along the west ice age trail. Just past the tall hill overlooking springs and Spring Creek, I make my way down the hill to the spring run. Depending on water levels, put in on the spring run or walk to Spring Creek. This is much easier to do in winter, dragging your boat. I have gone in snow deep enough I had to snow shoe in. The pay off is canoeing past the many spring outlets. I have seen robins and Great Blue Herons in January at the spring outlets. A flock of male Blue Birds eating insects hatching out of the water blown onto the snow banks in February. It is fairly easy to canoe both upstream and downstream of the “put-in”. Apparently trout fishermen or trappers regularly cut a small path through downed trees. I have travelled downstream through marsh and lowland forest, all the way down to Hwy 60. I have encountered a beaver dam and some downed trees. I got caught on the stream after sunset in February with my wife and daughter and had to walk out through deep snow because of a log jam just upstream of Hwy 60. Who says you cannot have an adventure in your own “backyard”? I would not recommend canoeing in the wildlife area during hunting season. I have had shotgun pellets land in my boat from pheasant hunters that shot at a bird and did not know I was on the stream. There is the possibility of deer hunters also.


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