Openlands has announced the launch of an online paddling guide for the Water Trails of Northeastern Illinois, including the Fox River in McHenry, Kane and Kendall counties.
The website provides detailed information on over 500 miles of water trails for non-motorized boating on 10 of the region’s waterways, and promotes paddling as an inclusive activity for local tourism and outdoor recreation. The free guide is available at paddleillinoiswatertrails.org.
“This resource makes the region’s waterways more accessible to everyone, even individuals new to paddling who might not own their own equipment,” said Laura Barghusen, Openlands associate greenways director. “This builds upon our work and the work of our partners to make water trails inclusive and to allow people to explore some of the most diverse habitats in Illinois.”
The online guide contains detailed, step-by-step descriptions for over 50 trips throughout the region, with information on skill levels, trail length, directions and equipment rental locations. Interactive maps are available for each waterway, indicating launch sites, dams, and the paddling difficulty along the trail. Paddlers are also encouraged to help keep the site up-to-date by reporting log jams, unexpected water traffic, wildlife sightings and other significant observations via the comments for each trail.
The guide described the Fox River Water Trail as beginning “at the Illinois-Wisconsin border, traveling south from the Chain O’Lakes into highly urbanized areas including Elgin and Aurora, giving way to more natural settings and many islands downstream in Kendall County. These water trails, which include multiple dams and power boat traffic, are trips suitable for all skill levels.”
Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. For more information, visit openlands.org.