Paddling Illinois in December

I got my money’s worth on my first kayak because I never though that I would be paddling Northern Illinois in December.

It was about 40 degrees and my wife would not go with me in the tandem.

I had to cut through thin layers of ice in certain spots to get to open water.

I met and paddled with a nature writer who also teaches journalism at a local college. We were the only yakkers on the water.

Just when you think it’s your last day of the season, another one comes.

The desolate scenery, devoid of wildlife (except for a few seagulls and ducks) was nevertheless beautiful.

Thanks to those who advised me how to paddle a tandem as a solo; particularly Peter_k who said to move the seat to the middle and forget the foot rests if they don’t reach.

Paddlin IL
Where were you Paddling?

Paddlin IL
Where were you Paddling?

Skokie Lagoons
in Winnetka Johnhens. Just east of I94 (Edens Expwy) with the launch just off of Tower Road. Many miles of good paddling and loads of wildlife in the summer and fall (sandhill cranes, egrets, coots, turtles, etc.).

Let me know if you need more detailed directions. You can see a map of the general area at:

North Shore
I have done a bit of paddling out on the lake putting in at Dempster. Haven’t paddled the lagoons, but am familiar with the area.

Last year met a friend in Highwood, drove 41 up to I-94 and along the way, everything was flooded (last may). Wanted to come back and paddle the flooded area, but didn’t get a chance.

We were on our way up to Isle Royale and when we got back, the waters had receded.

Paddle the Fox in winter and have had to break through shore ice to get out into open water. Snowstorms are fun to paddle in!!

Try Horicon Marsh
in Wisconsin in the fall. Many blue heron and migrating geese and fish jumping out of the water very frequently. Des Plaines River is nice between Routes 176 and 60.

Try the I&M Canal
The I&M Canal in Channahon (just 30 min from my home in Downers Grove) is a great place to paddle well into the season. Last year, I paddled there on January 2 with a friend and expected to be the only ones on the water. There were six other boats! My family and I also paddled on the canal on a warm day last February. At Channahon, you can paddle on the DuPage River, DesPlaines, Kankakee, Illinois, and I&M Canal all in the same day without a shuttle!

Thanks Klagory
Where is the put in?

Put-in for I&M Canal
Take I-55 South to the Route 6 exit to Canal St (left) to Bridge St. (right) then left into parking lot. The parking lot is right at the head of a gravel bike trail with the Canal on the right and the DuPage River on the left. I like to start in the river, float into the DesPlaines. The DesPlaines River parallels the canal for quite a way. I climb over the towpath and paddle back up the canal to the put in. It’s very convenient and interesting!


– Last Updated: Dec-09-04 9:19 PM EST –

It is also marked on the Illinois atlas & gazetteer if you have one of those. Aerial photo: . Parking is the south side of the road on the bike path.

to both of you for directions. It’s going to be a little cold in Chicago this weekend so the trip may have to wait until March.

Not too far away
Is the little Fox from Burlington, WI down to Antioch, IL (173) and then through the Chain 'O Lakes. It basically follows Route 83, more or less. No drunks on the lakes in the winter time!