Location: Between Lake Geneva and Burlington, WI.
Shuttle Length: 2 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Fine mostly rural float. Water is (generally) clearer than many streams due to half the watershed being outflow from Lake Geneva.
Put-in is approximately 814' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 776' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 38'.General Overview
Recommended put-in is at Sheridan Springs Road, just South of Buckby Road.
Recommended take-out is at Spring Valley Road, though some boaters may prefer to continue about 2/3 of a mile to take out at a park on Mill Street in 'downtown' Lyons.
A much longer run may be made starting (further upstream) at the edge of the city of Lake Geneva, and continuing (further downstream) to the confluence with Honey Creek (just outside of Burlington) or further. However, virtually all of the added distance is flatwater.
Most of the run is best characterized as an intimate little stream flowing through prairie lands. A few random spots create small waves, some of which may allow minor surfs. The best spot of whitewater is the short pitch under the bridge at Spring Valley Road (the Lyons Wave).
To distinguish the city from the water-body, apparently the water-body is most properly called Geneva Lake, while the community is Lake Geneva. The outlet of Geneva Lake is a control structure (to maintain lake-surface elevation).
The following details (down to our listed, recommended put-in) are primarily to inform (and somewhat dissuade) paddlers interested in longer paddling trips. The vast majority of which will be flatwater, likely encountering some areas of deadfall, and (as noted) low bridges.
Right in the town of Lake Geneva, there is a bit of interesting gradient. The river (really barely a creek at this point) passes under a road, and immediately trips across a boulder stretch. Unfortunately (at least, years back when I last looked) there are numerous pipes crossing the river at a height which would preclude passage (or at least be a serious limbo/hazard).
From this bridge and for nearly a mile, the river passes through the Grand Geneva Golf Course, encountering numerous (likely low-passage) golf-cart bridges.
After passing the golf course and airstrip of Grand Geneva Resort, the river encounters Sheridan Springs Road (first crossing). Downstream the river wanders through lowland meanders (with Como Creek entering from river-left 0.88 miles downstream of this road/bridge), which continue virtually all the way to our recommended put-in.
Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 60 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).
At this road/river crossing, there is a fairly decent-sized pull-off area to park, unload boats, and a very short carry to launch.
Some folks (especially larger groups) may opt to start at this park. However, it is a longer carry/drag to the water versus the very short carry/drag at our listed put-in.
From their website: "White River Park, the County's largest and newest park, opened in July of 2014. With nearly 200 acres and two miles of frontage along the White River, this park will initially feature walking trails (almost five miles already developed) cross country skiing, a canoe/kayak launch, picnicking, fishing, hunting and trapping (by permit only)."
See more at: Walworth County: White River Park.
There is a minor rock-dam/riffle here which may provide tame surfs for novice boaters.
Downstream, if the weather is pleasant, there is likely to be people on trails and benches, enjoying the park, and watching you enjoy the river.
The first of two bridges connecting trails across the river.
The second of two bridges connecting trails across the river.
Up until this point, the river has largely been flanked by tree-lined shores, and has generally good swift current (with occasional riffles and small waves). As the shores become increasing open, the current subsides a bit, and the river meanders through wide-open lowland floodplain. Depending on time of year, keep your eyes open for birds and other wildlife as you paddle these broad meanders.
After nearly a mile, as trees are nearer the shores, minor riffles will again be present.
Just outside of Lyons, as the river heads under Spring Valley Road, you'll find the potentially the most interesting whitewater on the river. Old maps show a dam and millpond here. For decades there was a uniformly-sloped cement slide under this bridge. Many years back, that was broken up and hauled away, and replaced with a stretch of large quarried rock. At low flows, this will be shallow and scrapey (a real pain in the butt). At moderate or higher flows, it will probably provide the biggest excitement on the trip. For experienced whitewater paddlers, there may be some (relatively minor) play here. There is a fine, deep pool at the base of the slide (immediately north/downstream of the bridge). At some flows, boaters may find enough current to do stalls and squirts, however be aware there is a fair amount of rock which has flushed out from under the bridge to some distance into the pool. Getting fully vertical (on stalls and squirts) or getting upside-down is likely to mean an encounter with those rocks.
This spot used to be done as a 'park-and-play', either carrying up repeatedly to 'run the dam', or just staying in the pool below to surf, squirt, roll, etc. However, more recently, this area is heavily posted against trespass, emphasizing the illegality of setting foot on dry land anywhere other than the absolute immediate shoulders of the road (the 'right-of-way').
As you continue downstream, you are likely to encounter some wood flanking the stream (though there seems to be regular 'maintenance', sawing any complete blockages not long after they occur. It is only about 0.75 mile to the city park in Lyons for the listed take-out.
Matt Huml and I called this our Lake Geneva play spot for many years. There is some good potential here for a quality surf wave and, in fact, there is some good gradient directly in the town of Lake Geneva. All in all, this is a fun float to get wet and there are places to teach beginners. I can always say that I learned how to "stern squirt" and "roll" my first play boat here - the old Forplay!
The cited gauge is pretty much just the outflow from Geneva Lake, and may be regulated (I.E., controlled).
The watershed area at the gauge is roughly half the drainage areafor the "Lyons Wave".
Significant showers may bring the reach to runnable levels without affecting (or while having delayed effect upon) the gauge (I.E., there may not be immediate spillage or release from the lake and its dam).
Conversely, there may be times when the dam may pass water (to regulate the surface level of Lake Geneva) when there is not otherwise runoff from the rest of the watershed (thus little-to-no additional flow contributed beyond the gauge).
Consequently, the gauge is likely to be a relatively poor indicator of runnability for this reach (but it is the best info we have available online).
Suggested minimum is an untested estimate. Anyone boating this reach is encouraged to use 'Add a comment' button below to refine gauge ranges for this reach.
9.31' = 100cfs
9.47' = 125cfs
9.61' = 150cfs
9.73' = 175cfs
9.84' = 200cfs
10.05' = 250cfs
10.23' = 300cfs
Gauge/flow analysis (based on 10 years of data)
Drainage area at gauge: 28.7 sq.mi.
All time minimum flow: 0.01 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 0.06 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 62 cfs
All time maximum flow: 342 cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 1033 (Nearly meaningless, with a river with a 90% value so close to zero) (under 3 is fairly steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Average runnable days per year: 8 or 9
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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