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Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Dane County Kicks Off Construction for Phase 2 of Lower Yahara River Trial & Accessibility Improvements at Fish Camp County Park

September 28, 2023
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined Land & Water Resources Department staff and outdoor recreation advocates to kick off construction for Phase 2 of the Lower Yahara River Trail, as well as accessible fishing and boating improvements at Fish Camp County Park. When complete, the park space will provide more opportunities for Dane County residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of age and abilities.

“Since its completion in 2017, the Lower Yahara River Trail has become a beloved feature in the Dane County community,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We are thrilled to kick off construction on Phase 2 so even more residents and visitors can easily access this picturesque outdoor recreation destination and enjoy Dane County’s natural resources.”

Phase 2 of the Lower Yahara River Trail will span approximately 2.75 miles from Fish Camp County Park to Williams Drive at Lake Kegonsa State Park and will include an approximately 4,000 ft. helical pile boardwalk and a 90 ft. clear span bridge over Door Creek. An approximately 16-stall parking lot with a kiosk and bike racks will be constructed on the east side of the Fish Camp net house. The parking lot will provide access to both the Lower Yahara River Trail and accessible shoreline improvements.

Viewing platform bump-outs similar to what was constructed at the Yahara River crossing on Phase 1 of the trail and opportunities to exit the boardwalk for shoreline/marsh access are included in final plans. The proposed trail will transition from an elevated boardwalk to an at grade paved surface near the ATC transmission lines at the west end of the existing natural surface path. The paved trail will follow the existing natural surface path east to the Swamp White Oak grove where it will transition to a boardwalk to bypass the oak trees on the north side.

An approximately 14-stall parking area is proposed on Fairview Street that will provide off road vehicle parking for area residents to access the trail. Decorative split rail fencing, signage and buffer plantings will also be included.

Construction will begin in the fall of 2023 and be completed in the fall of 2024. Wisconsin DNR assisted with coordinating trail design in Lake Kegonsa State Park. Wisconsin DOT and Wisconsin and Southern Railroad provided design input on the proposed railroad crossing at Williams Drive. KL Engineering served as the design engineer, and Janke General Contractors will be the construction contractor, based out of Athens, WI. County Executive Parisi allocated the $6.75 million in funds needed to complete Phase 2 of the Lower Yahara River Trail in previous county budgets.

Dane County Parks is also planning improvements to the kayak launch area of Fish Camp County Park, including a new accessible floating kayak launch pier and an accessible walk-in kayak ramp. A new accessible fishing pier and relocation and improvement of the County's lake management aquatic plant harvest off-load site are featured in the plans. The improvements will also include a rain garden and ADA parking upgrades.

“Everyone deserves the ability to connect with the outdoors and appreciate what our natural resources have to offer,” Parisi said. “These accessibility and boating improvements will make it easier for Dane County residents and visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy the outdoor offerings of Fish Camp County Park.”

The accessible kayak launch at Fish Camp will complement upstream landings at McFarland’s Jaeger Park and Babcock County Park that provide access to the stretch of the Yahara River from Lake Waubesa to Lower Mud Lake and Lake Kegonsa.

This is part of an ongoing Dane County Parks initiative to develop system-wide improvements at county lake access sites in partnership with the Foundation for Dane County Parks, Madison Fishing Expo, and Access Ability Wisconsin. Dane County has committed $900,000 to accessible improvements throughout the Dane County Parks System. Private donors and the Foundation for Dane County Parks have contributed another nearly $150,000 in matching funds towards accessible fishing and boating improvements:

  • FOLKS (Friends of Lake Kegonsa Society) - $5,000
  • Sally Wilmeth & Terry Geurkink and the Jenni & Kyle Foundation $55,000
  • Foundation for Dane County Parks:
    • Tom Krauskopf - $40,000
    • Donna Hilgendorf - $30,000
    • Friends & Family of Donna Hilgendorf - $3,485
    • Other Donations (Muskies Inc., Madison Community Foundation, Courtier Foundation) - $9,325

The total cost for these improvements at Fish Camp County Park will total $550,000. Construction work will begin in the fall of 2023 and be completed in the fall of 2024.

For more information about the projects, please visit:

For more information about accessible recreation at Dane County Parks, please visit:

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Additional Media Materials:

Video: Lower Yahara River Trail Phase 2 - Overview
Footage: Lower Yahara River Trail Phase 2 - B-Roll/Media Kit