Yahara River
★ ★ ★

Yahara River VIII

By on December 31, 2014

Lake Kegonsa to Stoughton
☆ ☆ ☆

A short stretch of slow, wide water between Lake Kegonsa and downtown Stoughton that is mostly developed but still pleasant. This makes for a great beginner’s river or after-work float.

Date:
December 13, 2014

Class Difficulty:
Flatwater

Gradient:
Virtually nonexistent

Gauge:
Stoughton: ht/ft: 6.30 | cfs: 336

Recommended Levels:
We recommend this level.

Put-In:
La Follette County Park at Lake Kegonsa dam
Take-Out:
Riverside Drive Park, Stoughton dam, Stoughton, Wisconsin

Time: Put in at 2:45p. Out at 4:30p.
Total Time: 1h 45m
Miles Paddled: 5.25

Wildlife: Great blue herons, mergansers, geese, ducks, muskrats and beaver.

Full disclosure: This stretch of the Yahara was where I had my very first trip in a kayak six years ago in late August 2008. As such, it shall always hold a special if sentimental place in my heart.

This section is only five miles long but there are several distinct characteristics about it. The first mile is positively lovely, then there’s a huge lake-like marsh with a developed shoreline, then it tapers again below County Road B, swells into another marsh after Viking County Park and then finally tapers again through downtown Stoughton through a mix of residences and businesses. Except for the very beginning where the lake drains, there is essentially no current on this trip, so the paddling time will have more to do with your own stamina and sauntering.

This isn’t the prettiest section of the Yahara by any means and if you don’t like seeing buildings then it isn’t for you. But it is nonetheless, a pleasant stretch that’s worth checking out sometime at dawn or after work at sunset.

Situated at the base of Lake Kegonsa, here the Yahara River resumes its course after connecting Madison’s chain of lakes like a necklace of pearls. The put-in is fun since just behind you is the lake and in front of you, a river meandering through marsh. You can paddle upstream into the lake, though this is the one part of the trip where there is current (a gentle gradient is found underneath the railroad bridge connecting river and lake). You can skip this upstream scrimmage by putting-in at the boat launch for Lake Kegonsa State Park, just opposite the train tracks but a State Parks pass is required. I mention all this because paddling from lake to river is a unique and captivating transition, much as the confluence of one river into another is.

Wherever you put in, the first mile of this short trip is the most intimate. There is relatively no development and you are surrounded by cattails and sedge. A tall bank on the left shore is lined by very attractive oaks. Slow-going and shallow, the river is generally 80’ wide (expanding and contracting a couple times downstream). Water clarity is crystal clear.

A small island announces the first of two huge swells in this trip. If you keep to the left you will head into the heart of the marsh. Wild and undeveloped, it can be very shallow in spots. Keeping to the right takes you directly into the lake-like sprawl of water where you’ll see a development on the right shore. On a windy day this section can be unforgiving. It’s also a little disorienting – where does the river continue after this huge sprawl? East is the answer, or river-left from the paddler’s point-of-view. There is a pleasant hill on the left that rises above the river but otherwise, it’s best just to do this section quickly and be over with it.

The first bridge is at County Road B, where on the downstream river-left side is an excellent access to shorten this trip or take-out if you wish to skip the more developed downstream section in town. The surroundings here are no longer residential but development persists. A dog park is on the left bank, farmland on the right. When the water is high, a narrow inlet on the left can be paddled in a clockwise direction back into the main stream (watch out for fishing line though!)

One more boring slough of lake-like sprawl lies after Viking County Park. Off in the distance to the right you’ll see the buildings of an industrial park, while on the left upon a hill lies the Stoughton Hospital. As you pass under the power lines, look up, there are two osprey nests.

At long last the river tapers to a normal size as you pass under a pedestrian/bike path bridge immediately followed by a railroad bridge. From here to the takeout residential homes are everywhere. What it may lack in outdoors seclusion it somewhat makes up for in A) backyard novelty and B) the quaintness of a river still coursing through a city’s downtown.

As you approach the Main Street bridge a beautiful mural on a building to the left colorfully displays the history and rich culture of Stoughton. On the downstream side of the bridge (also on the left) is an attractive old brick building, the kind that just looks like it oughta lie along a river. Unfortunately, the river shall begin to widen again as the full effects of the dam create an impoundment. You’ll see a cemetery on a gentle hill on right-right, followed by a walking path along the river. The takeout is to the right of the dam itself. Look for the “Take Out Here” sign. Or you can take-out along the shore itself (though be prepared to sink into some mud).

What we liked:
The lake-to-river transition is fun in and of itself but there is something remarkable about the Yahara River which links the Cherokee Marsh to Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa, on its way towards the Rock River by Indianford. On a foggy, soggy day (such as I paddled it last), Lake Kegonsa was beautifully spooky. Below the dam, (which is often open and runnable) the river is lovely. The gnarled oaks are always pleasing to the eye and where not developed, the Yahara here feels wild, if marshy.

I really like the downtown portion, for what it is. On river-right, all the houses sit atop an attractive hill that teases the imagination to wonder what this looked like before Luke Stoughton arrived and settled the town (fun fact: while Stoughton is steeped in Norwegian folklore and festive pride, its founder Luke was a Yankee from Vermont of English background). The mural more or less announcing town is fun, as is the architectural and cultural feel of downtown. Main Street in Stoughton is great too and feels like a small town’s downtown should. There are many good venues for food, beer, (there are two great bars in downtown Stoughton: Wendigo on Main Street – formerly the Pour House – and Viking Brewpub, also on Main) coffee, (Stoughton claims to be the town that gave America the coffee break and per capita no one drinks more coffee than Scandinavians) plus cute shops and galleries and the vaunted Stoughton Opera House.

Lastly, special mention must be made of the dam – specifically the 4th Avenue bridge just below the dam. There are two sets of pilings in the river creating three shoots through which the water flows underneath the bridge. Each shoot provides a rare Class I-II rapid opportunity with formidable standing waves. I’ve never seen anything quite like it – there seems to be a drop and maybe a submerged lip or abutment that causes the standing waves. It looks passable (based on my “scientific” experiments of dropping chunks of ice and large branches on the upstream side and “monitoring” the results on the downstream side) but risky. The current is very strong, obstructions would be essentially impossible to see until the last second (if at all) and then you’re enclosed within concrete pilings (not fit for the claustrophobic). All this said, it could be fun – if you’re careful. I, myself, will wait ’til warmer weather to try this. Since the dam is on site, water levels should always be sufficient to run these rapids.

What we didn’t like:
This trip is five miles of river in between two dams with the net effect of zero current. There’s something downright wrong about a river without current; it just ain’t right. The other problem, of course, is the amount of development. But being so close to a small city, this shouldn’t be surprising.

If we did this trip again:
Next time I’d probably paddle more of Lake Kegonsa to mix things up. You can portage around the dam downtown and continue downstream but the next section of river leading to the Dunkirk dam is again flat, still, residential and thus not recommended.

***************
Related Information:
Yahara River Overview: Yahara River Paddle Guide
Yahara River IX: Stoughton to Stebbensville Road
Yahara River X: Mud Lake to Lake Kegonsa
Good People: Friends of the Yahara River
Guide: Yahara Waterways Trail Guide
Wikipedia: Yahara River

Map:


Shuttle Information:

5.8 miles for cars, 4.3 miles for bicycles.

Photo Gallery:

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Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

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Mukwonago to Big Bend

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10.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Plymouth to County Road M

Namekagon River

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

Neenah Creek

Neenah Creek
4.19.15 | ☆ ☆
County Road EE to Oxford

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Nippersink Creek
11.3.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Richmond to Spring Grove

Oconomowoc River

Oconomowoc River III
6.4.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Monches to Okauchee Lake

Oconomowoc River II
4.8.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Avenue to Fowler Lake Park

Oconomowoc River I
6.25.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Concord Road to County Road P

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

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch

Ontonagon River: Middle Branch
8.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Watersmeet to Forest Road 5250

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River IV
5.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mifflin to Jones Branch Road

Pecatonica River III
4.16.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Brownton to Winslow

Pecatonica River II
11.15.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Darlington to Red Rock

Pecatonica River I
6.16.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Calamine to Darlington

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Pecatonica River: East Branch V
5.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Woodford to Highway 11

Pecatonica River: East Branch IV
4.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Argyle to Blackhawk Memorial County Park

Pecatonica River: East Branch III
3.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway HK to Hollandale

Pecatonica River: East Branch II
11.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hollandale to Blanchardville

Pecatonica River: East Branch I
9.29.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Blanchardville to Argyle

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch

Pecatonica River: Mineral Point Branch
7.30.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oak Park Road to County Road O

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshekee River
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Peshekee Grade to 3-Mile Mark

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

Pine River (Lincoln)
9.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Center Road to County Road W

Pine River III (Richland)
7.26.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockbridge to County Road AA

Pine River II (Richland)
5.12.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Krouskop Park to Twin Bluffs Road

Pine River I (Richland)
4.7.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Rockbridge to County Road AA

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Piscasaw Creek III
4.17.17 | ☆ ☆
Denny Road to Squaw Prairie Road

Piscasaw Creek II
4.12.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Streit Road to Denny Road

Piscasaw Creek I
4.9.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Maxon Road to Streit Road

Platte River

Platte River Overview
Our Guide to the Platte River

Platte River V
3.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Platte Road

Platte River IV
10.28.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Big Platte Road to Indian Creek Road

Platte River III
11.10.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Platte Road to Big Platte Road

Platte River II
9.22.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to Platte Road

Platte River I
6.19.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Ellenboro to County Road B

Plover River

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

Prairie River

Prairie River II
5.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road C to Stange’s Park

Prairie River I
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

Red Cedar River
5.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Menomonie to Downsville

Robinson Creek

Robinson Creek II
5.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Old County Road I to Kelly Road

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

Rock Creek

Rock Creek
3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Rock River IV
7.16.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Watertown to Johnson Creek

Rock River III
9.27.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Kanow Park to County Road P

Rock River II
9.21.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Janesville to Beloit

Rock River I (IL)
8.4.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Oregon to Dixon

Root River

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

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Root River: South Branch
9.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 5 to Preston Trailhead Park

Rubicon River

Rubicon River
5.27.15 | ☆ ☆
Saylesville to Neosho

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

St. Croix River II
8.11.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Osceola to Somerset Landing

St. Croix River I
8.8.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
St. Croix Falls to Osceola

Starkweather Creek

Starkweather Creek
6.08 | ☆
Yahara River to Highway 30

Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek II
4.17.17 | ☆
Bowers Road to State Road 120

Sugar Creek I
4.15.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road ES to Bowers Road

Sugar River

Sugar River Overview
Our Guide to the Sugar River

Upper Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River XII
7.24.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
White Crossing Road to Valley Road

Sugar River X
10.4.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 69 to County Road A

Sugar River IX
3.28.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Belleville

Sugar River VII
9.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Riverside Road to Paoli

Sugar River III
7.22.11 | ☆
Valley Road to Paoli

Sugar River II
7.3.11 | ☆
Paoli to Belleville

Middle Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River XI
11.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Attica to Albany

Sugar River VI
5.18.14 | ☆ ☆
Albany to Brodhead

Sugar River IV
8.11.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road X to County Road EE

Sugar River I
6.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Belleville to County Road X

Lower Sugar River
…………………………………

Sugar River VIII
9.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Brodhead to Avon

Sugar River V (IL)
9.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Colored Sands Forest Preserve to North Meridian Road

Sugar River: West Branch

Sugar River: West Branch
7.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Fritz Road to County Road PB

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

Trempealeau River II
9.27.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 35 to Perrot State Park

Trempealeau River I
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Whitehall to Independence

Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek Overview
Our Guide to Turtle Creek

Turtle Creek VI
3.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Fairfield to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek V
6.21.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
School Section Road to O’Riley Road

Turtle Creek IV
6.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Springs Park to School Section Road

Turtle Creek III
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
O’Riley Road to Sweet-Allyn Park

Turtle Creek II
7.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street

Turtle Creek I
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sweet-Allyn Park to Dickop Street

Upper Iowa River (IA)

Upper Iowa River II
5.29.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Kendallville to Bluffton

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

Waupaca River

Waupaca River VI
6.2.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Weyauwega to Decker Memorial Park

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

Wausau Whitewater Park
7.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wausau, Wisconsin

Wedges Creek

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

White River

White River III (Walworth)
3.12.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

White River (Waushara)
11.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road YY to Czech Lane

White River (Bayfield)
8.16.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Maple Ridge Road to Highway 112

White River II (Walworth)
6.30.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Wagner Park

White River I (Walworth)
5.15.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Sheridan Springs Road to Lyons

Willow Creek

Willow Creek
8.5.17 + 8.22.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Highway 58 to Dog Hollow Road

Wisconsin River

Lower Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Lower Wisconsin Overview
Our Guide to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway

Wisconsin River VIII
6.22-6.23.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lone Rock to Muscoda

Wisconsin River IV
9.4-9.5.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Prairie Du Sac to Arena

Wisconsin River III
5.29-5.31.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Arena to Gotham

Wisconsin River II
9.5-9.7.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gotham to Boscobel

Wisconsin River I
8.22-8.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Boscobel to Wyalusing State Park

Middle Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Wisconsin River XV
7.11.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Castle Rock Dam to Lyndon Station

Wisconsin River XIV
10.11.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
River Bay Road to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River XIII
6.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine Island to Portage

Wisconsin River XI
4.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Portage to Dekorra

Wisconsin River IX
10.13.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin River VII
8.6.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Wisconsin Dells to Norway Drive

Wisconsin River VI
8.15.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Dekorra to Whalen Bay

Wisconsin River V
6.1.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lyndon Station to Wisconsin Dells

Upper Wisconsin River
…………………………………

Wisconsin River XII
5.11.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Grandfather Dam to Lokemoen Road

Wisconsin River X
12.2.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Pine River to Texas

Wolf River

Wolf River III
9.6.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Hollister

Wolf River II
9.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
County Road A to Lily

Wolf River I
8.29.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Lily to Langlade

Yahara River

Yahara River Overview
Our Guide to the Yahara River

Upper Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River XII
7.16.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Yahara River XI
4.19.16 | ☆ ☆
Windsor to Highway 113

Yahara River VII
7.22.13 | ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Yahara River V
5.25.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Veterans Memorial Park to Windsor Road

Middle Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River X
3.7.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Mud Lake to Lake Kegonsa

Yahara River IX
12.14.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Stoughton to Stebbensville Road

Yahara River VIII
12.13.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Lake Kegonsa to Stoughton

Lower Yahara River
…………………………………

Yahara River VI
7.14.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to County Road H

Yahara River IV
6.6.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Murwin County Park to Janesville

Yahara River III
7.13.10 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park

Yahara River II
9.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to County Road H

Yahara River I
8.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Stebbensville Road to Murwin County Park

Yellow Creek (IL)

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

Yellow River

Yellow River (Taylor)
8.31.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Miller Dam to County Road H

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


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