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Kickapoo River in Wisconsin

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

We put in "downtown" Ontario which can be quite crowded on the weekends. The river was a little high this year but it made for easy sailing down the river.

The word Kickapoo means crooked and the river lives up to that name. There are a lot of turns and blind bends that hide the occasional jokester with squirt guns. There are also a lot of sand bars to stop and rest or cook out along the way. There were a lot of other canoeists in the river for the first 10 bridges which can usually be a lot of fun. The first day we went to bridge 10 and that took us about 6 hrs with a lot of stopping and socializing.

The second day we put back in at bridge 10 and after bridge 12 we had the river to ourselves. The second half of the river is also not kept up as nice and there were a lot of dead falls to navigate around but nothing that made us portage until bridge 19. There is one spot where it takes "ramming speed" to get across a barely submerged branch or do the limbo in your canoe and pass under a low hanging branch. The trip to bridge 20 took us about 7 hrs but again we stopped a lot and took turns ambushing each other.

The trip from the beginning to end is a beautiful mix of high bluffs, wooded shores and scenic pasture land. It is a good family river that doesn't require a lot of skill.

The camping along the river is basic with no electricity or running water. We have heard wolves howling in the past(close enough to wake us up) and it is not unusual to have raccoons visit our campsite.


Wildcat State Park is nearby but we stayed at a campsite near the river. There is a little greasy spoon in downtown Ontario that makes a good breakfast and there is a little gas station/store next door to it that has pretty much all the basics you will need including firewood.

There is a place to rent canoes in Ontario that provides a shuttle service back to town from the take outs along the river. I believe the name is Drifty's Canoe Rental.


1 Pelican Daredevil, 2 Coleman 14fter's, and two old but dependable and stable canoes make unknown


10$ a day for the campsites along the river.


Find Ontario, WI on the map, because there is no easy way to get there. The nearest big town is Mauston. Look west by southwest on the map.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location