Paddling in St. Germain – How to explore the Northwoods

Paddling in St. Germain – How to explore the Northwoods

One of the most tranquil ways to experience St. Germain is to take in the beauty of the area, one paddle stroke at a time. People have been paddling in St. Germain for a very long time – long before this was a top Wisconsin vacation destination, Native Americans traveled these waters by canoe. Today there are new ways to get on the water but the experience is as wild and beautiful as ever. St. Germain is one of the best paddling destinations in the Northwoods – here’s what you need to know.

What do I need to get on the water? 

It’s easy to launch a paddling adventure in St. Germain. If you have a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board, you may want to bring it along on your trip. If you don’t feel like transporting your boat, or need a rental, no problem – there are plenty of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards waiting for you up here.

Where can I rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board?

If you’re staying in a St. Germain resort or vacation home, there may be a kayak or paddle board available for your use, right by the lake’s edge – just ask! Kayaks and paddle boards are plentiful up here – some places that have them on hand include Lynn Ann’s Campground, Hiller Vacation Homes and Coontail, a retailer that also sells paddling equipment. Cedaroma Lodge also has rentals and it offers excursions and classes like SUP yoga!

What’s the best time of day to go paddling?

If you want to experience true Northwoods magic, set your alarm clock. Paddling in the early morning can be incredible, when the sun slowly burns off the morning fog. The only sound you’ll hear is the call of a loon, echoing across the lake. An evening paddle can also be incredible – just find a spot to float and watch the sun slowly set as the lake changes colors. If you can only swing a mid-day paddle, no problem. The lakes and rivers are quiet, even on most breezy days – just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Where are some good places to go paddling?

The possibilities for paddling are almost endless here. St. Germain is surrounded by scores of glacial lakes – there are so many lakes, that some of the smallest ones are not even named. You have a lot of options, including small undeveloped lakes, larger recreational waters, wild streams, and the Wisconsin River. If you’re staying on the water, that just might become your perfect paddling spot. 

Need some ideas on where to go? Here are some awesome St. Germain paddling spots

Wild river paddling

Lost Creek, from Lost Lake to Big Saint Germain Lake, is a nice little paddling trip that might take three hours to complete. Start your adventure just south of Lost Lake. The river follows a sandy route that opens into a lowland and a marsh – you’ll see a lot of wildlife on this trip!

Small river paddling

Another popular place for paddling can be found on the stretch of river between Big Saint Germain Lake and Pickerel Lake. There’s a convenient kayak launch just south of Highway 70. The river is pretty quiet, so it’s usually a good candidate for an out-and-back paddling trip. Make the trip as short or as long as you like!

The Wisconsin River

The state’s largest river (other than the Mississippi) is located just outside St. Germain. A popular route for both paddlers and tubers is the stretch from Eagle River downstream, before the river flows into the Rainbow Flowage. Hawk’s Nest outfitters can get you out on the water and it can help you with the pickup downstream. If you’re planning your own trip, the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company has maps and more helpful details on the route.

Lake paddling

You’re never far from a paddling lake in St,. Germain – they are literally everywhere. If you want to get away from it all, head to a smaller lake like Shannon Lake, a small, quiet lake that’s completely surrounded by the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. Little Bass Lake is another little lake that’s popular with paddlers who are seeking solitude.

Lynn Upthagrove, the innkeeper at Cedaroma, is an experienced paddler who helps people get on the water. She said you’ll encounter incredible wildlife while paddling – her specialty is stand up paddle boarding.

“You can see a bear on the shore, you can see a deer on the shore, you can see an eagle,” she said. “The beauty of paddle boarding is, you’re elevated, and at your angle you can see the fish. It’s pretty cool.”

Need even more paddling ideas? The Vilas Area Silent Sports Association has published some very helpful paddling information.