A convenient bike-shuttle on CamRock trail makes for an ideal day trip on the Koshkonong if the water level is right and it's free of deadfall.
What Makes It Great
The Koshkonong’s main appeal is its proximity to Madison and the convenient bike shuttle. But the uncertainty of how clear the creek is at any given time of year could ultimately make it frustrating for the casual paddler.
The previous owners of CamRock Café had kept it maintained when they had a kayak rental service but that part of the business is no longer in operation and since this isn’t an overly-popular destination, you’ll never know what you’ll encounter in the way of portages. We’ve had a decent amount of luck on this stretch and if you’re comfortable with a bit of “come-what-may,” this creek is just interesting enough to make for a rewarding daytrip.
Koshkonong Creek is narrow with a mostly sandy-bottom and copper-hued water. Tree-lined and canopied for a great deal of the journey, you’ll wind your way under CamRock trail bridges to what I found was a very enjoyable section, the former millpond. The millpond is anything but "a pond" and is arguably the prettiest part of the journey. Flanked by beautiful grassy banks and an open environment, you’ll eventually reach Rockdale where you’ll find a modest amount of riffly excitement. The riffles continue past Rockdale for a bit and then it's back to tree-covered sections and open farmland.
Not overly developed, you’ll no doubt, come across a variety of wildlife, including turtles, herons, beavers, and an occasional deer. You’ll also encounter other bikers viewed from the creek or certainly on the shuttle on the nicely maintained CamRock trail.
Post-Paddle Diversions: CamRock Café & Sport is under new ownership and I haven’t yet revisited since it reopened but if they're running it anything like the previous owners, it’s a must-stop destination (I really enjoyed the nice vibe and friendly people the last time I was there). I’ve also heard great things about Rockdale Bar & Grill, which will be my next post-paddle destination. Lastly, another play spot for lake paddling, SUP or swimming is the beautiful Lake Ripley. There's a fee to access the lake but its cleanliness and convenience makes it well worth it.
Who is Going to Love It
The Koshkonong appeals to creek-lovers who don't mind all that comes along with creek-paddling (usually deadfall and wildlife encounters).
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Put-In at West Water Street, Cambridge, Wisconsin: The put-in off Main Street (and behind CamRock Café & Sport) is decent, with a couple of put-in options to choose from; a dock or a muddy slope to the water. The dock can be a little difficult if you're balance-challenged.
Take-Out at Hoopen Road, Rockdale, Wisconsin: The take-out is downstream river-right and suffers from extreme erosion. It's grassy all the way to the bank but the mud will give way, so do tread lightly.
Extended Trips: There are more miles to explore upstream as well as down. Upstream, from Britzke Road, you’ll no doubt, encounter some deadfall. We have yet to explore downstream.