We paddled the Fox River from Mitchell Park in Brookfield to Frame Park in Waukesha on July 4th. Accompanied by my 10 yr old twin boys, we decided the 75 degree overcast day made for good paddling weather this time of year. Our 16' Wenonah Adirondack provided transportation on the river, with my wife providing convenient shuttle service.
The river is narrow with plenty of twists and turns as you head south through Mitchell Park. The landscape here is primarily marsh grass with a few trees along the river. We had to portage over one foot bridge on the south end of the park, otherwise paddling was easy going. There were two logs further down river that required us to get out of the canoe and carry over.
The river widens and becomes more forested as you paddle closer to I-94. There is a complete canopy overhead at times, which would provide welcome shade on a sunnier day. The pass under the interstate provides a short class I riffle, a quick thrill for the boys after a couple hours of flat water paddling. The Pewaukee River will soon appear on the right with riffles as it flows into the Fox. The river is widened considerably by that point and is deeper than the northern stretch. The trip ends up in Waukesha's Frame Park, where you can see a concession and paddleboat rental building to your left (the piers make for easy take out) as you pass under the last bridge. Further ahead you will spot water fountains in the river, a signature landmark in downtown Waukesha. The trip took us three hours, with me in the stern and the boys switching in the bow about half way.
Except for a few bikers and hikers passing over the foot bridge in Mitchell Park, we encountered no other people on our trip down this suburban Milwaukee waterway. It was a peaceful way to spend the 4th of July afternoon.
None on the river.
Frame Park in Waukesha offers concessions, watercraft rentals, restrooms and picnic areas (seasonal).
Take Hwy 190 (Capitol Drive) west from Milwaukee out to Brookfield. Turn left into Mitchell Park shortly after Brookfield Road. There is a parking lot across from the ball diamond (west side of road) that is marked for canoe/kayak access. A trail from the parking lot leads to the Fox River and a pier for your launch. There is a second launch further south in the park that would cut paddle time by about 10 minutes.
Local Gazetteer or map from phone book.
- Sport/Activity: Canoeing
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)