franklin, wisconsin, root river

hi i was wondering if any body has tried kayaking in the root river starting in greendale/franklin by whitnall park.I’ve driven up and down every road that crosses the river and it seems to be wide enough but i was wondering about the depth.It wouldnt be a big deal if we had to walk a few spots but it would be nice to know ahead of time. i see alot of people start in racine and finish at lake michigan. But we are trying to make a longer trip. any help would be great.

thanks jim

Have you checked air photos?

– Last Updated: Mar-04-13 8:57 PM EST –

I just looked at air photos of that whole stretch, and it doesn't look practical. Not until 5-Mile Road do I see reasonable stretches that aren't nearly completely choked by trees. Upstream from there, which is most of the trip, the river is totally invisible beneath the trees more often than not. Photo sections taken in fall/winter/spring, when visibility is better, show lots of deadfall tangles. As you approach the reservoir near Racine it opens up, but below the dam it looks awfully shallow for quite a stretch, again often nearly hidden by trees. I'm surprised you didn't see deadfall blockages from some of those bridges. Most rivers that I'm familiar with that look like this from the air have the "look" of being deadfall-choked as seen from road bridges too. Did you try to look very far upstream and downstream from the bridges?

I'd suggest taking a walk through the Root River Parkway, both upstream and downstream of 7 Mile Road. That section of the river is noticeably wider than the stretch where you want to start, but still looks like it's probably a tangled mess of fallen trees unless some dedicated group has been busy in there with chain saws, keeping a path clear. I could be wrong, but that's how it looks in the photos.

walking river a ways
yes i walked up and down from each bridge just far enough to see around some bends on sunday but with the snow, i didnt really push it to far lol. it didnt look bad from rawson on down. i think starting 76th. street or west would be pushing it.

thanks for your response.

i might give it a try when weather gets nice and post how it goes.

thanks for your response


That sounds promising then
Paddling along undeveloped, wooded corridors sounds a lot more appealing than going past all the commercial land around Racine.

a link to american whitewater, root river. I haven’t run the root, but use this site for put ins, take outs etc. for rivers I haven’t run. I live in MN & will be going to Jim falls event & wausau release. For other events in the midwest, go to & click on events. You can also sign up to rapids riders for free & ask questions on the discussion board. There’s a lot of paddlers on that site who have run almost every river in WI. It’s not just for whitewater paddlers, there are members who do flatwater as well. Hope this helps!

wooded areas
i agree, we went down fox river from just outside down town waukesha to big bend it was ok, but just to many houses and people.Normally we go up north to upper mi. crystal falls.You can be on a river for 10 to 12 hours and not see anybody and maybe 6 to 10 cabins. its great. but we would like to go out more often and are not able to make it up north as much as we would like.


I hope you consider other options then
There are some very nice rivers just a moderate distance away which will be a lot more remote than most of what you can find in your immediate vicinity, but a lot easier to get to than “up north”. A good place to start is the book, “Paddling Southern Wisconsin” by Mike Svob. The website listed in this thread by glendorado looks good too (on that note, that site indicates that people DO maintain a clear path through all that deadfall on the Root River, though only on the lower half. That explains why it looks so “bad” in air photos but is still runnable).