Does developed portage = launch site?

There are many dams on the Fox River, which runs through Elgin, IL. The City of Elgin developed a couple of very nice portages around the Kimball Street dam. They are full cement ramps leading down into the river on both the up and downstream sides of the dam. The ramps were built specifically as portages and are only as wide as a decent bike bath. My question is can developed portages also be considered launch sites? There is a public library on the north side of the Kimball Street bridge, and the portage on the north side of the dam is right by the library’s parking lot. I’m thinking of parking at the library and putting in at the portage ramp, paddling up river a while and then floating back to my car.

If the city developed portages specifically for paddlers, are they fair game as launch sites, too?

Why not ?
Here in the foot hills of NC Lake James has portages over the dam and people do it.

As long as you are not illegally parked I wouldn’t hesitate doing it.

Jack L

Parking and loading/unloading
The library you are looking at may or may not have agreed to let people park in their lot while they paddle and locate the car in a position for loading up and unloading. You need to check. The load/unload portion can take up more room than portaging through depending on the boats used.

Closed on Sundays
Luckily, the library is closed on Sundays. So, I’m hoping there shouldn’t be any issues using the portage to put in today.

It’s city-owned land, right?
And you don’t have to cross private property to get there? It shouldn’t matter whether there’s a portage facility. If you can legally stand on the shore, you can legally launch your boat. That’s how it works any place I’ve been, at least.

Go for it!
What are they gonna do?

Arrest you, or ticket you for parking in a public library parking lot?

Don’t know about the library in question, but the parking lot at our community library can handle at least 100 vehicles. I’ve never seen the parking lot half full.

Use common sense; don’t make loading/unloading your boat & gear a nuisance for others.

Ever notice that the parking places the greatest distance from the door are usually empty?

Use that area…


Of course. When in doubt ask permission for parking.

Shouldn’t be a problem
You can certainly put in there.

Parking is the issue and some people and some cities at some times can get nasty about that.

I used to paddle that river a lot when I was a kid. Aurora would sometimes write warning tickets for parking in their city without a city sticker, which they’d be happy to sell you. That was a long time ago during Mayor Egan’s administration and the police there did a lot of questionably legal things back then. I expect its different now, but perhaps the locals in Elgin have gone similarly bats these days. Just inquire. Its usually not a problem. Do be careful if your parking puts you in a situation where you have to “portage” through a stoplight or crosswalk… if your head’s in a canoe or kayak it makes both seeing and hearing traffic tougher. Feels weird also. The voyageurs didn’t have to put up with that particular difficulty.

I recall a fairly nice put-in at a park in Mongomery and another with good parking under a bridge in North Aurora. I mostly paddled Oswego and the stretches all the way down to Starved Rock. My old usual put-in, which used to be considered “out in the sticks”, is now under the fairly new four lane Orchard Road bridge. I don’t know if there’s even a practical place where you can put-in there now.

The further you get from the cities, the less problem you’re likely to have with parking nazis.

Awesome day of paddling!
Thanks for all the replies and encouragement, folks. I ended up doing exactly as I planned. I parked my minivan at the far back end of the lot, which is conveniently located right next to the portage. Turns out the library IS open on Sundays (my bad), but its lot is ginormous and never gets full. And I parked in those far back spaces that no one else parks in.

I found out that LOTS of people park in the library lot for non-library activities. Most people park there to begin a bike ride on the Fox River Trail. Anyway, I put in at the library and paddled upriver for 6 miles to another dam and then turned around and paddled back. It was a very exhilarating day on the water!

sure, why not?
only issue might be parking.