Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail In Wisconsin

Here is everything you need to know about the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Wisconsin
  • Length: 280 miles.
  • Type: Water trail.
  • Surface: Water
  • Managed By: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is a significant waterway in the state of Wisconsin, USA, with a rich historical background. The trail follows the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, connecting the cities of Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. This water trail has played a crucial role in the region’s history, serving as a vital transportation route for Native American tribes, European explorers, fur traders, and settlers.

For centuries, Native American tribes, including the Menominee, Ho-Chunk, and Ojibwe, utilized the Fox-Wisconsin waterway for trade, travel, and sustenance. They navigated these rivers in birchbark canoes, using them to transport goods, conduct diplomacy, and explore new territories. The rivers were a lifeline for these indigenous communities, providing access to abundant fish, game, and fertile lands.

In the late 17th century, French explorers, such as Jean Nicolet and Jacques Marquette, ventured into the region, establishing fur trading posts along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. These posts served as important economic and cultural centers, facilitating the exchange of furs, goods, and ideas between Native Americans and Europeans. The fur trade flourished in the area, attracting French, British, and later American traders, who relied on the water trail to transport their goods to and from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. This trade network greatly influenced the region’s development and shaped its cultural landscape.

As European settlement expanded in the 19th century, the Fox-Wisconsin waterway continued to be a vital transportation route. Steamboats replaced canoes and became the primary mode of transportation, carrying people, goods, and mail along the rivers. The water trail played a crucial role in the westward expansion of the United States, enabling settlers to access new lands and establish communities along its banks.

Today, the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail stands as a testament to the historical significance of this waterway. It serves as a recreational resource, allowing visitors to explore the region’s rich history, experience its natural beauty, and appreciate the cultural heritage that has shaped the communities along its path.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Green Bay Access Point – Located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this access point is the starting point of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail. It provides easy access to the Fox River.

2. De Pere Access Point – Situated in De Pere, Wisconsin, this access point is a popular starting point for kayakers and canoers. It offers parking facilities and a boat launch.

3. Wrightstown Access Point – Located in Wrightstown, Wisconsin, this access point provides access to the Fox River and is a great spot for fishing and wildlife viewing.

4. Appleton Access Point – Situated in Appleton, Wisconsin, this access point is a popular spot for recreational activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. It offers parking facilities and a boat launch.

5. Menasha Access Point – Located in Menasha, Wisconsin, this access point provides access to both the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. It is a popular spot for boating and fishing.

6. Neenah Access Point – Situated in Neenah, Wisconsin, this access point offers easy access to the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. It is a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding.

7. Oshkosh Access Point – Located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, this access point provides access to the Fox River and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and water sports.

8. Berlin Access Point – Situated in Berlin, Wisconsin, this access point is a great starting point for exploring the Fox River. It offers parking facilities and a boat launch.

9. Princeton Access Point – Located in Princeton, Wisconsin, this access point provides access to the Fox River and is a popular spot for fishing and wildlife viewing.

10. Portage Access Point – Situated in Portage, Wisconsin, this access point is the ending point of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail. It offers parking facilities and a boat launch.

Transportation Available

1. Fox River Tours – Boat tours along the Fox River showcasing the area’s natural beauty.
2. Green Bay Metro – Public bus service in the Green Bay area.
3. Uber – On-demand ridesharing service available in the region.
4. Lyft – Another on-demand ridesharing service operating in the area.
5. Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport – Local airport providing domestic flights.
6. Green Bay Packers Heritage Trail Trolley – Trolley service offering guided tours of Green Bay’s football history.
7. Green Bay Bicycle Collective – Non-profit organization providing bicycle rentals and repair services.
8. Green Bay Pedal Tavern – Group bike tours with a bar on wheels, exploring local attractions.
9. Green Bay Segway Tours – Guided Segway tours around Green Bay’s landmarks and scenic spots.
10. Green Bay Taxi – Local taxi service available for transportation needs.


The amenities available at the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail may vary depending on the specific location along the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These can include portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas along the trail where visitors can park their vehicles. These parking areas may be located near access points or trailheads.

3. Camping Sites: Some sections of the trail may offer camping sites for overnight stays. These sites can range from primitive camping areas to developed campgrounds with amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, there may be designated picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas often have picnic tables, grills, and trash receptacles.

5. Boat Launches: The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is primarily a water trail, so there are boat launches available at various points along the trail. These launches allow boaters to easily access the water and start their journey.

6. Fishing Access: The trail provides access to prime fishing spots along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. Anglers can find designated fishing areas or access points where they can cast their lines.

7. Interpretive Signage: Throughout the trail, there may be interpretive signage that provides information about the history, ecology, and points of interest along the waterway. These signs can enhance the educational experience for visitors.

8. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The trail passes through diverse natural habitats, providing opportunities for wildlife viewing. Look for designated areas or viewpoints where visitors can observe and appreciate the local flora and fauna.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail organization for specific amenities available at different sections of the trail.

Nearby Services

1. River’s Edge Campground – Riverside camping and RV sites along the Fox River.
2. Fox River House – Casual bar and grill with riverfront views and outdoor seating.
3. Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center – Upscale hotel with river views and on-site dining options.
4. Gill’s Bar & Grill – Local eatery serving American comfort food and drinks.
5. Comfort Suites – Modern hotel offering spacious rooms and complimentary breakfast.
6. The Marq – Event venue with banquet facilities and catering services.
7. The Source Public House – Cozy gastropub featuring craft beers and a diverse menu.
8. Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Green Bay WI – Budget-friendly hotel with basic amenities and free breakfast.
9. The Cannery Public Market – Specialty grocery store offering local produce, deli items, and artisanal products.
10. Aurora BayCare Medical Center – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care and specialized services.

Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail Difficulty Notes

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail presents a moderate level of difficulty for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning over 280 miles, this water trail offers a diverse range of challenges, from calm and serene stretches to more turbulent sections with rapids and obstacles. Paddlers can expect to encounter varying water conditions, including swift currents, shallow areas, and occasional debris. Navigating through the trail requires a certain level of skill and experience, particularly during high water levels or after heavy rainfall. However, with proper planning, preparation, and knowledge of the river, adventurers can enjoy a rewarding and memorable experience along the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail.

Features And Attractions

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is a scenic waterway that stretches for 280 miles through the state of Wisconsin. Along this trail, you can find numerous scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail:

1. Lake Winnebago: The largest inland lake in Wisconsin, offering beautiful views and recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

2. Horicon Marsh: A vast wetland and wildlife refuge, known as one of the largest freshwater cattail marshes in the United States. It is a popular spot for birdwatching, hiking, and canoeing.

3. Fox River Lock System: A series of locks and dams along the Fox River, allowing boats to navigate through the waterway. These historic structures provide an interesting glimpse into the region’s transportation history.

4. High Cliff State Park: Located on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, this park offers stunning views of the lake and limestone cliffs. It features hiking trails, camping areas, and a marina.

5. Neenah-Menasha Lock: A historic lock system connecting Lake Winnebago to Lake Butte des Morts. It is a popular spot for boaters and offers a scenic view of the Fox River.

6. Oshkosh Riverwalk: A picturesque waterfront walkway in downtown Oshkosh, offering views of the Fox River, historic buildings, and public art installations.

7. De Pere Lock and Dam: Located in De Pere, this lock and dam system allows boats to navigate the Fox River. It is a popular spot for fishing and offers scenic views of the river.

8. Green Bay: The Fox River empties into Green Bay, a large body of water on Lake Michigan. Green Bay offers beautiful waterfront views, recreational activities, and historical sites such as the National Railroad Museum.

9. Heritage Hill State Historical Park: Located in Green Bay, this living history museum showcases Wisconsin’s rich heritage. It features historic buildings, exhibits, and reenactments.

10. Fox River Trail: A scenic biking and hiking trail that follows the Fox River for over 25 miles. It offers beautiful views of the river, wildlife, and connects several communities along the waterway.

These are just a few examples of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can explore along the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is only permitted in designated areas along the water trail.
3. Fires are only allowed in designated fire pits or grills.
4. Littering is strictly prohibited. Please pack out all trash and dispose of it properly.
5. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the water trail.
6. Fishing is allowed, but make sure to follow all state fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses.
7. Swimming is permitted but be aware of any seasonal restrictions or safety advisories.
8. Respect private property along the water trail and do not trespass.
9. Be mindful of noise levels and respect the tranquility of the natural surroundings.
10. Follow all safety guidelines and regulations provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Seasonal Information

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is a remarkable destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Spanning over 280 miles, this water trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the scenic beauty and rich history of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers in Wisconsin, USA. While the water trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly ideal for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is during the spring and summer months, from April to September. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and longer daylight hours. This allows visitors to fully enjoy the water trail’s offerings, such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and wildlife spotting. The rivers come alive with vibrant foliage, blooming flowers, and an abundance of bird species, making it a perfect time for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

It’s important to note that some sections of the water trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions. For instance, certain areas might be closed during the fall and winter months due to freezing temperatures or hazardous conditions. It’s advisable to check with local authorities or the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway for up-to-date information on closures and access points. Additionally, it’s recommended to plan your visit in advance and be aware of any permits or regulations that may apply, especially if you’re planning an overnight camping trip along the water trail.

Overall, the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail offers a diverse and captivating experience throughout the year. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful paddle through serene landscapes or an adventurous exploration of historical sites, this water trail has something to offer for everyone. So, pack your gear, plan your visit accordingly, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Launch Sites: Designated launch sites along the trail that are accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to easily enter and exit the water.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities along the trail that are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair-accessible stalls and grab bars.
3. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces near the trail that are specifically reserved for individuals with disabilities, ensuring convenient access to the water trail.
4. Accessible Trails: Paved or well-maintained trails along the water trail that are accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to enjoy the surrounding scenery.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail that are designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, featuring accessible tables, benches, and grills.
6. Accessible Fishing Piers: Fishing piers along the water trail that are wheelchair accessible, providing individuals with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy fishing activities.
7. Accessible Interpretive Signs: Informational signs along the trail that are designed to be accessible for individuals with disabilities, featuring large print, braille, or audio descriptions.
8. Accessible Camping Facilities: Campgrounds along the water trail that offer accessible campsites, restrooms, and other amenities for individuals with disabilities.
9. Accessible Boat Rentals: Rental services along the trail that provide accessible boats or adaptive equipment for individuals with disabilities to enjoy water activities.
10. Accessible Visitor Centers: Visitor centers or information stations along the trail that are designed to be accessible for individuals with disabilities, providing information and assistance.

Safety Information

1. Wear a life jacket: Always wear a properly fitted life jacket while on the water to ensure personal safety.
2. Check weather conditions: Stay updated on weather forecasts and avoid paddling during storms or high winds.
3. Know your limits: Assess your paddling skills and physical abilities to choose appropriate sections of the trail.
4. Share your plans: Inform someone about your trip details, including your expected route and estimated return time.
5. Carry a map and compass: Have a detailed map of the water trail and a compass to navigate effectively.
6. Be aware of hazards: Watch out for submerged rocks, fallen trees, and other potential obstacles in the water.
7. Stay hydrated: Bring enough water to stay hydrated throughout your journey.
8. Protect against sun exposure: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
9. Pack essential safety gear: Carry a whistle, flashlight, first aid kit, and a waterproof bag for your belongings.
10. Stay alert and avoid distractions: Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid using electronic devices that may distract you.
11. Respect wildlife and vegetation: Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid damaging plants or disturbing their habitats.
12. Practice Leave No Trace principles: Minimize your impact on the environment by packing out all trash and disposing of waste properly.
13. Stay on designated trails: Follow the marked water trail to avoid getting lost or trespassing on private property.
14. Be cautious of motorized boats: Stay alert for motorized vessels and give them enough space to pass safely.
15. Learn basic water rescue techniques: Familiarize yourself with basic rescue techniques in case of emergencies.
16. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a fully charged cell phone, a whistle, and know how to call for help if needed.
17. Stay sober: Avoid alcohol or drug consumption while paddling to maintain clear judgment and coordination.
18. Take breaks when needed: Rest periodically to prevent fatigue and maintain focus during your journey.
19. Dress appropriately: Wear weather-appropriate clothing and consider wearing a wetsuit or drysuit in colder conditions.
20. Stay together: If paddling in a group, maintain visual contact and ensure everyone stays together for safety.

Conservation Notes

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail is a significant natural resource in the state of Wisconsin, encompassing a vast network of waterways that provide critical habitat for numerous plant and animal species. The conservation status of this water trail is of utmost importance to ensure the preservation and protection of its ecological integrity.

Efforts have been made to monitor and manage the water trail’s conservation status, with a focus on maintaining water quality and minimizing pollution. The water trail is subject to regular water quality testing to assess the health of the ecosystem and identify any potential threats. Conservation organizations and government agencies work collaboratively to implement measures that reduce pollution from agricultural runoff, industrial discharges, and other sources, aiming to maintain the water trail’s pristine condition.

Additionally, the conservation status of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail involves the protection of its diverse wildlife. The water trail supports a variety of species, including fish, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Conservation initiatives focus on preserving and enhancing the habitats necessary for these species to thrive. This includes the restoration of wetlands, the creation of nesting sites for waterfowl, and the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of invasive species that could disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem. By actively managing and conserving the water trail’s habitats, efforts are made to ensure the long-term survival of the species that depend on this unique waterway system.

Leave a Comment