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Updated: April 24, 2019 @ 1:14 pm
Wisconsin State Journal photographers capture the stunning beauty of the Yahara River chain.
The water's edge is a popular destination, and public access has been expanding. Kendra Aaroen, 7, left, of Stoughton, and her sister Hannah, 3, roll along Lake Waubesa's Lower Yahara River Trail with their grandmother, Gail Aaroen, of McFarland. The mile-long boardwalk bridge is the longest such structure built in North America for non-motorized transportation.
Brett Fish, of Madison, skims his kiteboard across Lake Waubesa near McDaniel Park in McFarland.
Would the state Capitol or the University of Wisconsin System's flagship campus be located in Madison were its landscape not dominated by lakes?
A speedboat pulls a pair of joyriders on an inner tube across Lake Mendota.
We are drawn to the water, and there is more and more research that helps explain why. Here visitors to the UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace gather along Lake Mendota -- on this day a greenish hue from nutrient pollution.
They are stunningly beautiful, stalwart giants. The lakes of the Yahara River chain spill out through one of Wisconsin's fastest growing regions. We love many things about them. And yet, we take them for granted. Looking south, as the water flows, are Lake Mendota and Lake Monona bracketing Madison's Isthmus. Downstream are Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa.
Goodman Community Center summer campers AJ Miller, front, and Sakir Kone guide their kayak across Monona Bay. They're among the thousands who enjoy the lakes each year.
Common loons skitter across Lake Wingra in April. Loons have used the lake as a temporary home while awaiting more northern lakes in the U.S. and Canada to thaw.
A flock of tundra swans congregate on the dwindling perimeter of Lake Mendota's open water during a migratory stopover.
Heron Rose, 17, left, and Bode Anderson-Brown,16, both of Madison, fish along Wingra Creek in July.
Every spring muskellunge jump over the dam on Wingra Creek to reach Lake Wingra. The annual migration draws spectators to watch the large game fish attempt to leap the formidable obstacle.
The Imagine Madison comprehensive plan will serve as a non-binding guideline for potential development areas and work in conjunction with more local neighborhood plans.
Samir Idrissi lifts his canoe overhead as he prepares to embark on the portaging leg of the annual Paddle and Portage event. Like many participants, Idrissi is wearing a costume for the event. He said he wanted to raise awareness for declining bee populations.
Fireworks go off over Lake Monona during Shake the Lake in 2017.
More in The Yahara Lakes: Giants Among Us (8 of 27)
The state christened the Yahara River’s four main lakes with undulating three-syllable names in 1855.
The Yahara lakes are a largely unknown world within our world. Running right through the middle of our lives, they affect us in ways so big and so familiar that that are easy to forget.
The Yahara lakes help quench the human need for contact with nature.