kayak pictureSpend some time paddling around Madison! MSCR has a fleet of canoes and kayaks, offering introduction to paddling classes and paddling trips in the summer and fall. We provide instruction, lifejackets, boats and paddles. Our trips range from beginner level to advanced, with the longer trips requiring more endurance and the ability to sit in a boat for up to 5 hours. Experienced instructors teach everything you need to successfully navigate the water and are your guides during the trip. You can find more information, including dates and times, in the MSCR Program Guide.

Here is what customers are saying:

"The entire program was world class.  Participation increased my confidence and outdoor skills." - Lili 


"I liked that we built up slowly so I could gain skills and stamina as the summer progressed. I thought the leaders of the kickapoo trip did an amazing job of facilitating a great learning experience. The Flambeau trip was great, the leaders were excellent and the group really came together. It was fun that some paddling was on a river and some in the flowage. " - Jocie

We offer the following programs:

Paddling Academy - Several trips and end of of the season trip!

Spend the entire summer paddling in our Summer Paddling Academy! Register for the Academy and take 6 paddling trips that grow progressively more difficult. Learn outdoor skills, gain paddling stamina and build confidence to take your own trips. Registration includes 4 day trips, 2 overnight opportunities, paddling gear and guides to help you build paddling and outdoor skills. The final trip is to the Flambeau Flowage in Northern Wisconsin -- spend 3 nights and 4 days using your skills to paddle, fish, explore and camp. Guides are with you during the trip, but you are the lead! Registration includes the following trips and represents a $50 discount by registering for the academy. The fee is $250, use course #14406 to register.Ages 16+

Registration includes the following trips and represents a $65 discount.

  • Lake Monona Sunset Wednesday 6/14 6 - 8 pm 
  • Navigating the Narrow Saturday 6/24 9 - 11 am
  • Navigation Skills Wednesday 7/12 6 - 8:30 pm
  • Kegonsa Overnight Friday-Saturday 7/21-7/22 9 am - 3 pm 
  • Ten Mile Lake to Lake Saturday 8/5 9 am - 4 pm
  • Flambeau Flowage   Sunday-Wednesday 8/13-8/16 8 am - 4 pm

Register Now for Paddling Academy


Canoe & Kayak Trips - Beginner - Register for one or all!

Learn the basics to start paddling safely. These courses last two hours and give introductory information about boats, safety equipment, water safety, and paddling techniques. If you’ve never been in a boat before, this is a great place to start!

Intro to Paddling 

These are great opportunities to try a short paddling trip and build your paddling skills. Trips last no more than three hours and require little to no shuttling.

Lake Monona Paddle

Paddle through Lake Monona starting at Wingra Dam and follow the river to view the Monona Terrace and State Capital, ending at Brittingham Park. This short trip is only two hours and is a great follow up to the introduction course.

Six Mile Creek

Paddle on Lake Mendota up Six Mile Creek. This trip begins and ends at Governor Nelson State Park, making it about a two hour loop.

Navigating the Narrow

Learn to navigate a small current while increasing your endurance. A slightly longer paddle, this trip starts at the Tenney Park locks, through the Yahara narrow, then across Lake Monona. This trip takes about two and a half hours.

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group getting ready to paddleIntermediate Paddling Trips

As your stamina improves and you become more comfortable in a boat try an intermediate trip. Trips last no more than four hours and involve a bit more traveling. For some trips it is necessary to run a shuttle, which is arranged with participants prior to the trip.

Cherokee Marsh

A quiet, relaxing trip through Madison’s Hidden Gem: Cherokee Marsh. Depending on time and weather you can paddle through the Upper Yahara and Token Creek as well. This trip lasts about three hours.

Cruising the Lakes

Typically an evening trip, the trip begins at Babcock Park in McFarland and meanders through the Yahara and Mud Lake into Lake Kegonsa. This trip lasts around three hours.

Lake Mendota Tour

Paddle the south shore of the largest of the Yahara River chain lakes: Lake Mendota. Paddle past Second Point, Picnic Point, the UW Shoreline, Memorial Union, and past the downtown skyline to finish at Tenney Park. This trip lasts four hours and is a great transition into the full day trips.

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Full Day Paddling Trips

Can’t get enough? Try a full day trip, bring your lunch and plenty of paddling stamina. You are in a boat up to five hours. These trips require longer travel distances and require participants to shuttle from the put in to the take out.

Lower Yahara

A full day spent traveling down the mighty Yahara to Fulton. Participants meet at LaFollette High School then carpool to the Stebbonsville Dam, about six miles south of Stoughton.

Kickin’ the Kickapoo

Observe gorgeous rock walls and wooded bluffs as you wind down the Kickapoo River, the most crooked river in Wisconsin. Participants meet at Memorial High School parking lot to carpool to the put in.

Wild for Wisconsin

Spend a full day navigating the current of the Wisconsin River. Paddle from Sauk City all the way to Arena. Pass the Ferry Bluff State Natural Area and Mazomanie Bottoms State Natural Area along the way. Participants meet at Memorial High School to carpool to Sauk City.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a group of eight or more who would be interested in an introductory paddling class or a trip? We provide equipment and instructors to offer an introductory paddling course and can schedule a trip most suited for their level of comfort paddling. These opportunities are for participants ages 10+ and can be organized with the MSCR Recreation Specialist for Experiential Programs, Emily Peffer This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-204-4580