By Mike Koehler
For many tourists and locals alike, the most common view of Elkhart Lake is from the walkway and overlook near the Osthoff resort. The views are splendid, but for a different – more adventurous – view of Elkhart Lake consider a stand up paddleboard (SUP) excursion on the lake. This post takes you on a SUP tour of Elkhart Lake.
For starters, the best time to paddleboard on Elkhart Lake is mornings before 10am or after 7:30pm to sunset as slow-no-wake rules for boats are in effect during these time periods. Let’s face it, navigating wind created waves atop a paddleboard is tough enough, let alone wake from boats.
Those with access to the resident beach are allowed to launch SUP’s adjacent to the beach, but for others the best option is to launch at the public boat launch located at County Road P west of Elkhart Lake on the western most portion of the lake and that is where this journey begins (Point 1).
You begin the journey through a narrow bay and will notice in front of you the signature buildings of Camp Brosius, a family camp that has been in existence for approximately 100 years.
Upon exiting the bay, navigate right and Elkhart Lake opens up before you and atop the paddleboard you will come to appreciate the crystal clear waters of Elkhart Lake. Although Elkhart Lake generally has a wooded shoreline, being on the water best allows you to see the many well kept homes, cottages, piers and boathouses that dot the shoreline (Point 2).
One of the best things about being on a paddleboard on Elkhart Lake is the flexibility it provides and the ability to jump in and create your own personal swimming area. Indeed, one of my favorite things to do while paddleboarding on Elkhart Lake is simply to rest my arms on the board, float in the water, and watch the world go by. (Point 3).
Being on the lake provides different vantage points seldom seen including this view across the lake to the Osthoff Resort in the background. (Point 4)
Although Elkhart Lake is one of the deepest lakes in the state (maximum depth approximately 120 feet), there are portions of the lake that are shallow including Turtle Bay where the water depth is approximately 2-4 feet. (Point 5). This tranquil bay provides a calm retreat from the wind and boats and offers a unique perspective “looking out” towards the lake proper.
As you navigate the perimeter of Elkhart Lake, you will also notice that its shoreline is diverse. Some portions of the lake are shallow 15-20 feet from the shore, whereas other portions of the lake are 7-10 feet deep just a few feet from the shoreline. One of the most dramatic “drop offs” in Elkhart Lake is near the point exciting Turtle Bay as the depth changes from approximately 1-2 feet to well over 10 feet in a matter of seconds (Point 6).
Paddleboarding on Elkhart Lake is enjoyable generally from May – October. In the spring, the water tends to be the clearest and the lack of underwater vegetation during this period provides the best opportunity to view fish atop a paddleboard including Elkhart Lake’s resident giant muskies. During summer, the water of course is most enjoyable and provides ample opportunities to jump off your board and enjoy your own private swimming area. Thereafter, Fall brings color to the shoreline and creates beautiful reflections on the water. No matter the season, a SUP tour of Elkhart Lake’s perimeter (generally a 1.5 to 2 hour trip) is an enjoyable excursion and a unique way to “Be a Resorter.”