Yahara Waterways Trail Guide


Did you know that Olin Park was the site of a famous water cure resort that President McKinley, William Jennings Bryan and General W.T. Sherman all vacationed at along Lake Monona? Or that Orson Wells attended Camp Indianola on the northern shore of Lake Mendota when he was 10 years old and participated in dramatic productions? Or that ice harvesting, boat manufacturing, and carp fishing industries flourished on many of the Yahara chain of lakes? Well, this is just a taste of the local stories to be found within the Yahara Waterways Water Trail guide. This 44-page color guidebook presents an interpretive view of the history, the culture and the environmental diversity that is found on and along our lakes, the Yahara River, and their environs. The guide is an educational tool with maps and information for paddle sport enthusiasts, schools, summer camps, youth groups, and other recreational users of the Yahara waterways. The area covered in the guide is south from Cherokee Marsh including the Yahara River and all the lakes to Kegonsa.

The Yahara Waterways Water Trail Project was created through a collaborative, multiple partner effort working with government, nonprofits, and related area businesses (see list of partners at the end) under the guidance of the Dane County Environmental Council. The project’s premise is that as people learn more about their local place, they will care and work to preserve their unique home. Madison and Dane County’s identity is closely connected to the rich weave of our historical, cultural, and environmental features. The guide offers a fresh perspective of the physical character of this famous water resource and the histories behind present day landmarks.

Download a PDF version or purchase a hard copy of the trail guide from the following public and private outlets around Dane County:

  • Dane County UW-Extension Office (5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison)
  • Lussier Family Heritage Center (3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison WI)
  • Rutabaga (220 West Broadway, Monona)

Contact: Mindy Habecker, Project Coordinator with Dane County UW-Extension at (608) 224-3718 or at habecker@countyofdane.com for more information. If your organization or business would like to be a water trail guide distribution site, please download a wholesale order form here (PDF).

Partners in the Yahara Waterways Water Trail Project:

  • Capitol Water Trails
  • Dane County Environmental Council
  • Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission
  • Dane County UW-Extension
  • Friends of Lake Kegonsa Society
  • Mad City Paddlers
  • Madison Audubon Society
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin
  • Rock River Coalition
  • Rutabaga
  • UW-Extension
  • UW-Extension Environmental Resources Center
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources