Lake Michigan Port Washington
★ ★ ★ ★

Lake Michigan: Port Washington

By on November 13, 2013

Port Washington to Grafton
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Take one part jade green water, one perfect launching site, innumerable cool dunes, plus one hike-in gorge and you have the makings of one very fun sea kayaking paddle.

Date:
October 20, 2013

Class Difficulty:
Great Lakes Paddling

Gauge:
n/a

Put-In + Take-Out:
South Beach, Port Washington, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 1:00p. Out at 3:30p.
Total Time: 2h 30m
Miles Paddled: 6.25

Wildlife: A gazillion gulls, a handful of diving mergansers and lots of big fish easily seen in the clear water.
Time worth driving to: 2 hours

Still a newbie to sea kayaking, I find it positively and irrepressibly thrilling. What the Great Lakes might lack for scent of salt in wind or wave, they more than make up in stunning colors of water, accessibility and solitude.

Despite the downright crappy weather (temperature in the upper 40s, windy, rainy) the sea glass sheen of jade green water was nearly surreal. And perhaps the gentle fire of autumnal foliage in the root-clung trees and shrubs of the dunes illuminated more so for the sodden and dull steel-gray sky. The contrast was impressive. Besides, this late in the paddling season one cannot afford to be a fair weather fan. Whatever shivers I might have had were more than overcome by the exhilarating rush of those equinox elements. The rawness was something to embrace, to plunge into.

What we liked:
Surely there must be something akin to a good omen when one sees a sign on the road telling you to turn for the official Canoe/Kayak Launch! This is the case for South Beach in Port Washington. And while the beach is literally adjacent to the gargantuan techno power plant, as soon as you begin paddling, your back turns against it, leaving nothing but unbroken miles of beautiful shoreline for your eyes to take in (see note below of where to put-in specifically).

South Beach is flat, a welcome act of geology for putting in and taking out but not for long. Almost immediately, the dunes rise and keep rising the more southerly you go. Averaging 50’ high, they hit their peaks at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, the highlight of this trip, towering 100’ high or more. Looking more like folds of old rock than sandy dunes, the landscape is just gorgeous. Speaking of gorges, you should paddle to the shore at the northern boundary of the nature preserve, stretch out your legs and explore.

There is at least half a mile of shoreline to comb or look up and feel puny, compared to the huge castle-like dunes hovering above. There are no signs saying “Lion’s Den Gorge” but it should be obvious that you have arrived. There is a small stream that flows into the lake from the gorge. In mid-October this was but a trickle, not even quite reaching the lake itself. But in spring I can imagine it rather spectacular. Behind the stream, in the beginning thicket of the gorge, you’ll see the trail and staircase taking you to the top. The dunes are very sensitive and prone to erosion; please do not attempt walking up or spilling down them. Lion’s Den is sizeable (73 acres) and offers a variety of well-maintained and thoughtful trails. You could easily spend the better part of an afternoon exploring the place.

What we didn’t like:
Not knowing any better, I made a beeline for the water from the parking lot entrance at South Beach, heading straight for (and then shins-deep into) some awful maritime muck. Very much like quicksand, it made for a tricky place to get me and my kayak loaded and ready to go. But much worse, my feet were icky wet before I even stepped foot into my boat. Despite wearing neoprene socks and shoes, I was already soggy. Avoid this by turning right (south) to where there is no more muck, just clean, firm, unstinky sand.

Also, while Lion’s Den is the basic destination, there is nowhere to takeout officially. In fact, the only official access to the top of the dunes is from the gorge and from there it is a ¾-mile walk to the parking lot (to say nothing of trying to schlep a loaded kayak up a twisting staircase of nearly 100’). Thus you have two options: turn around and paddle back to South Beach or continue paddling southward, where the next take-out option is at Concordia University.

I do not know anything about the take-out option at Concordia, other than it seems to be doable. I had time enough for a paddle and a quick exploration of Lion’s Den, so I opted for a lake loop rather than a one-way paddle. I prefer a one-way paddle rather than reverse my trek, particularly when that means having to look at the distracting eyesore of the huge power plant in the distance but that’s not always in the cards. All the same, with the wind now at my back, I got to ride waves rather than fight them, which was a ton of fun

If we did this trip again:
I would look into the Concordia take-out option.

***************
Related Information:
Overview: Treasure of Oz
Wikipedia: Port Washington, Wisconsin

Map:


Photo Gallery:

TAGS
RELATED POSTS
Milwaukee River
Milwaukee River VIII

April 13, 2017

Black Earth Creek
Black Earth Creek V

April 7, 2017

Lake Mendota Governor's Island
Lake Mendota: Governor’s Island

December 16, 2016

La Crosse River
La Crosse River III

December 9, 2016

Black River
Black River III

December 2, 2016

Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake II

November 20, 2016

Mill Creek
Mill Creek (Portage)

November 13, 2016

Montello River
Montello River

November 11, 2016

Galena River
Galena/Fever River IV

November 11, 2016

MILES TO DATE:

2312.25
HELLO
Miles Paddled documents canoe and kayak trips on rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin.

Say Hello or Contribute
PADDLE REPORTS

Apple River (IL)

    Apple River
    4.20.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East Canyon Road to South Apple River Road

Ashippun River

    Ashippun River
    9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Ashippun Lake to Ski Slide Road

Badfish Creek

Baraboo River

Bark River

    Bark River II
    4.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Merton to Highway 83

    Bark River I
    7.15.10 | ☆ ☆
    Burnt Village County Park to Fort Atkinson

Beaver Dam River

Big Bureau Creek (IL)

    Big Bureau Creek
    6.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150

Big Rib River

    Big Rib River
    5.10.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Goodrich to County Road A

Billings Creek

    Billings Creek
    8.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road F to Landing 10

Black Earth Creek

Black River

Black River: East Fork

Bois Brule River

Boundary Waters (MN)

Cannon River (MN)

    Cannon River
    5.31.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Faribault to Dundas

Carroll Creek (IL)

    Carroll Creek II
    6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

    Carroll Creek I
    4.26.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

Catfish Creek (IA)

    Catfish Creek
    5.7.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mines of Spain to Massey Marina Park

Cedar Creek

    Cedar Creek
    9.28.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road M to Cedarburg

Coon Fork Creek

Covel Creek (IL)

    Covel Creek
    6.18.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East 18th Road to Highway 71

Crawfish River

Crawfish River: North Branch

Crystal River

Dell Creek

    Dell Creek
    3.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    South Avenue to Dellwood

Door Creek

    Door Creek
    4.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Femrite Drive to Fish Camp County Park

Duck Creek

    Duck Creek
    3.23.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road G to Duck Creek Road

Eau Claire River

Eau Galle River

Embarrass River

Flambeau River: North Fork

Fox River

    Fox River II
    4.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road O to Endeavor

    Fox River I
    5.14.14 | ☆ ☆
    Swan Lake to Portage Canal

Fox River (IL)

Galena/Fever River

Grand River

Grant River

    Grant River IV
    4.24.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River III
    4.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

    Grant River II
    11.21.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River I
    5.23.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

Halls Creek

    Halls Creek II
    8.9.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Garage Road to Halls Creek Landing

    Halls Creek I
    6.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Honey Creek

Jump River

    Jump River
    8.30.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park

Kickapoo River

Kickapoo River: West Fork

Kinnickinnic River

Kishwaukee River (IL)

Koshkonong Creek

La Crosse River

Lake Columbia

Lake Mendota

Lake Michigan

Lake Superior

Lake Waubesa

Lemonweir River

Little Platte River

Little Wolf River

Maunesha River

Mecan River

Mill Creek

Milwaukee River

Milwaukee River: East Branch

Mink River

Mirror Lake

    Mirror Lake II
    10.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

    Mirror Lake I
    5.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Montello River

    Montello River
    11.8.16-11.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Harrisville to 11th Road

Mormon Creek

    Mormon Creek
    8.3.14 | ☆ ☆
    Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

Morrison Creek

    Morrison Creek
    9.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Cemetery Road to Morrison Landing

Mukwonago River

Mullet River

    Mullet River
    10.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Plymouth to County Road M

Namekagon River

    Namekagon River
    7.16-7.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road K to Riverside

Neenah Creek

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Oconomowoc River

Old Pearl River (LA)

    Old Pearl River
    4.3.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Crawford Landing Road to Indian Village Road

Onion River

    Onion River II
    10.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road A to County Road V

    Onion River I
    9.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road V to Sheboygan Falls

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshtigo River

    Peshtigo River
    9.2.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Burnt Bridge to Goodman Park

Pigeon River

    Pigeon River
    12.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Lake Michigan

Pine River

Platte River

Plover River

    Plover River
    5.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Jordan Park to Iverson Park

Prairie River

    Prairie River
    11.17.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Haymeadow Creek to Prairie Road

Puchyan River

    Puchyan River
    04.19.15 | ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Huckleberry Road

Red River

    Red River
    12.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Gresham to County Road A

Red Cedar River

Robinson Creek

    Robinson Creek
    7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Rock Creek

    Rock Creek
    3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Root River

    Root River
    8.2.13 | ☆ ☆
    5 Mile Road to Horlick Dam

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Rubicon River

Seeley Creek

    Seeley Creek
    5.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road

Six Mile Creek

    Six Mile Creek
    6.7.14 | ☆
    Waunakee Village Park to South Woodland Drive

Spring Creek

    Spring Creek
    4.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Fair Street to County Road V

St. Croix River

Starkweather Creek

Sugar River

Token Creek

    Token Creek III
    5.22.11 | ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek II
    8.22.09 | ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek I
    5.2.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Tomorrow River

    Tomorrow River
    7.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Rolling Hills Road to Amherst

Trappe River

    Trappe River
    8.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road WW to Wisconsin River Road

Trempealeau River

Turtle Creek

Upper Iowa River (IA)

    Upper Iowa River
    5.24.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road

Waupaca River

    Waupaca River V
    10.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Amherst to Durrant Road

    Waupaca River IV
    4.12.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River III
    9.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway DD to County Highway Q

    Waupaca River II
    7.7.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River I
    7.9.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Wausau Whitewater Park

Wedges Creek

    Wedges Creek
    9.20.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Middle Road to Black River Lodge Resort

White River

Wisconsin River

Wolf River

Yahara River

Yellow Creek (IL)

    Yellow Creek
    4.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Bolton Road to Krape Park

Yellow River

Yellow River (IA)

    Yellow River II
    5.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old Sixteen Road to Highway 76

    Yellow River I
    5.5.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway X16 to Old Sixteen Road

Zumbro River (MN)

    Zumbro River
    6.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Zumbro Falls to Millville
Support the Cause
Timothy's guidebook is out! Order on Amazon.com.



Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!