Fox River Water Trail Appleton Locks Portages

Lutz Park in Appleton to Sunset Park in Kimberly.
Distance: 6.4 miles.

Overview: This is a nice urban water trail paddle through Appleton. It involves 4 developed portage spots around the Appleton Locks.

Fox River Water Trail portage at Lock #1 in Appleton. Photo by Steve Wagner. This is the first lock you will need to portage if you start downstream at Lutz Park in Appleton. It’s a short paddle from Lutz Park to the Lock #1. Make sure you stay far river right to avoid the dam and stronger current that runs through this section.




Jeff Mazanec portaging around the West side of Appleton Lock #1. Photo by Steve Wagner. Going upstream the portage is river right. There is a nice gravel spot to get out of your boat and carry around the lock.































This is the East side portage of Appleton Lock #1. The portage is small gravel like the one on the West of Lock #1.  Photo by Steve Wagner

Appleton Lock #2’s portage is located river left in the center of this photo. Take out is marked right before the chain link fence. The bank is nice and low.  This is an easier spot for portaging.  Photo by Tom Young.

The East side of Appleton Lock #2 Portage. This is another gravel portage.  Photo by Tom Young.

Portage for Appleton Lock #3 is just before the chain link fence in the photo. Stay on the outside of the fence. This is a grassy banked portage spot making it easier to drag your boat up if you don’t have extra help. Photo by Tom Young.

There is a small parking area for the bike and walking trail between these 2 portages. This may be a start or ending spot for your Appleton Locks paddle trip.

On the East side of Appleton Lock #3 you will have to navigate a rocky portage spot. This is probably the most challenging of the portages through the Appleton Locks because of the footing over the rocks while carrying your boat is tricky. After launching you’ll paddle past a working train bridge that swings over the river.  The photo shows the bridge closed. If the bridge over the river is closed the clearance is low but paddlers should be able to pass under easily.

Stay river right after you pass the trestle bridge to avoid the dam. Once you get past the dam area stay river left to avoid the hydro plant water intakes.

The portage at Lock #4 is a stairs under the College Ave. bridge, river left. This is the most deluxe of the portages through the Appleton Locks and from my experience the stairs work well. Photo by Mark Hoffman.

The east side of Appleton Lock #4 is graveled and a bit steep. Just downstream from the lock the current is usually running strong river right from the hydro plant. Another 300 yards downstream the current from the main river comes in. Please be careful in the current.

If you want to continue on the public take out is at Sunset Park in Kimberly in about 4 miles. The entire journey from Lutz Park to Sunset Park is 6.4 miles.

If you want to paddle this section of river with a group North East Wisconsin Paddlers is leading a paddle through the Appleton Locks from Lutz Park to Sunset Park on September 24th. We also have a group on this site if you would like to connect with other Fox Wisconsin Heritage Paddlers.

If you would like to see what the water trail looks like when it’s full of paddlers Dave Horst put together a nice collection of photos from last years Fox River Heritage Paddle, Sept. 12, 2010.

Here’s a Picasa photo gallery of a day of canoeing through the Fox River locks in Appleton. Photos by Thomas Young.

The Friends of the Fox website includes more information about the Fox River Water Trail portage project.

If you don’t mind a few portages this is a great way to see the Fox River trail through Appleton and some great views of the Fox Cities.

Have you paddled through the Appleton Locks? Would you like to paddle through Appleton on the Fox River? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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