Milwaukee SUP: Urban Paddle Guide

A December cruise in Milwaukee. Photo: Tahoe SUP
A December cruise in Milwaukee. Photo: Tahoe SUP

Milwaukee SUP: Urban Paddle Guide

Welcome to the 2015 Urban Paddle Guide presented by SUP ATX! Our mission is simple: build the best online resource for padding in towns and cities across the United States. Every urban area has unique places to paddle and we want your help finding out where those are! Enter your town in the Urban Paddle Guide now by sending us a picture(s), a brief description (no more than 350 words), then telling us about shops, restaurants and other resources as part of the entry form.

We’re prepared to reward you mightily. By entering, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free trip to Southern California for the 2015 SUP Awards and the Rainbow Sandals Battle of the Paddle, as well a brand new Lahui Kai board and paddle from SUP ATX.

Enter the Urban Paddle Guide presented by SUP ATX.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Downtown Milwaukee is situated right on the Lake Michigan coast, making it a great spot for paddling with tons of variety for spots and conditions. Paddling season starts end of March or the beginning of April. You’ll definitely want to wear a wetsuit and booties in the spring and fall. Due to its size and depth, Lake Michigan can create pseudo-ocean conditions with shore break and rollers which can be a blast for downwind runs but also a hazard for new paddlers.

McKinley Marina offers easy parking, even in the summertime. This gives standup paddlers access to the harbor for flat-water paddling in the mooring field or beach access for going out on the lake. Starting in the protected water of the harbor, head south to Lakeshore State Park. On your way, you’ll pass the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum on the way to an inlet which leads to a manmade lagoon outside of the Summerfest Grounds.

Another, less-protected option: from the Mckinley or Bradford Beach on the lake side, paddle north along Bradford Beach, around North Point and take a break at Atwater Beach before making the return trip south.

Atwater is also a great place to start but the parking area is on a bluff above the lake, which means a longer walk down to the water. The further north you get from the Milwaukee River mouth (south of McKinley Marina), the cleaner and clearer the water gets. There are two ship wrecks off Atwater Beach which are easily visible on a clear spring or summer day.

There are also several smaller inland lakes in the area which are warmer earlier in the season than Lake Michigan. They’re also more clear and include but are not limited to Pewaukee Lake and Nagawicka Lake. Enjoy Wisconsin!

Shops: Clear Water Outdoor has several shops in the area.

Eats: Colectivo is a local coffee shop located right across the street from McKinley Marina where you can grab breakfast or lunch. The east side of Milwaukee has a bunch of other good restaurants and cafes – Comet Cafe, Apollo Cafe, Potbelly Sandwiches.

Contributed by reader Mike Avallone

Enter the Urban Paddle Guide, presented by SUP ATX.