Recreation Community Orgs Outdoors

PASSION FOR PADDLING: The Pure Water Paddlers Club

come make new friends, experiences, and memories paddling all over the Valley

John Straub, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

PADDLE TO THE METAL. The Pure Water Paddlers Club is a 20+ year example of how locals connect through the beauty of our area and state.
PADDLE TO THE METAL. The Pure Water Paddlers Club is a 20+ year example of how locals connect through the beauty of our area and state.

It’s no secret that The Chippewa Valley area is home to some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful rivers and lake systems – so I’m sure the thought of actually getting out on the water has occurred to you at least once or twice. But, for the average person who has little to no experience in kayaking or canoeing, how would you take on the Chippewa River, for example, as expansive as it is?

You do it together, of course.

More than 20 years strong, The Pure Water Paddlers Club has been the premiere organization for kayak and canoe enthusiasts in the Chippewa Valley. Whether you’re an experienced paddler or have zero experience in the activity, the club provides a friendly and welcoming environment for all.

Mary Skutley, president of the club and a long-time paddler, says there are a ton of reasons to be a part of the club, but highlights the social aspect in particular: “I think one of the real strengths of our club is the social element — it’s a really welcoming group, and it’s wonderful to get out. It’s very calming after a long, hectic week, to get out in nature and to paddle with people who are like-minded.”




Not only is the club a great place to meet new people who are just as interested in paddling as you are, but it’s also a very safety-oriented group. The club teaches the essentials of paddling, including  the importance of wearing a PFD (personal flotation device) and how to safely navigate cold waters. They additionally sponsor classes that emphasize this safety, as well as teach the difference between the variations of paddles, canoes, and kayaks, while also teaching things like how you can transport your craft to and from the water. 

Paddling season begins in the summer. In-season, the club makes an evening trip every Wednesday to one of the area’s plethora of lakes and rivers. These trips go all across the Valley, whether it be to the Chippewa River, Lake Altoona, or Lake Wissota. They also have day trips for longer adventures, traveling a bit farther to places like Lake Namakagon, Brule Lake, and Flambeau Lake.

If these weren’t already such fun and stunning places to paddle on, you can also expect to discover multiple launches in the same locale, making room for a new and exciting adventure with each visit. “There’s knowledge of places to launch that I wasn’t aware of at all,” Mary explained. “Each of those places offers a little bit of a different view of the lake.”

All in all, these trips amount to around 25 paddles per season. Outside of organized trips, members are more than welcome to get in contact with anyone else in the club for an impromptu paddle, too!

Off-season and off the water, the club is very much still active. Additional educational seminars are offered and promoted, off-season social events are held, and the club even contributes to community service efforts. Recently, on April 23, they participated in the Amazing Eau Claire Clean-up, a commendable, annual tradition.

The Pure Water Paddlers Club fills in a much-needed gap in socialization and education when it comes to our local lakes and rivers. “This is such a beautiful area, there are so many waterways,” Mary said. “So we combine knowledge of the area and the enjoyment of the waterways.” 

Become a PWP member today and find out more information at