New Chicago Waterways Paddle Guide Online

Photo: Openlands

Openlands, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, has launched a free online paddling guide for the water trails of northeastern Illinois ( that provides detailed information on more than 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.

       President and CEO Jerry Adelmann states, “For more than 50 years, Openlands has partnered with many organizations to ensure our waterways are clean, safe and accessible to the public. Friends of the Chicago River was founded as a project of Openlands. We facilitate annual river cleanups around the region and host regular paddling events to foster greater appreciation for nature, from the Calumet to the Kishwaukee.”

       Associate Greenways Director Laura Barghusen notes, “This resource makes the region’s waterways more accessible to everyone; even individuals new to paddling who might not own their own equipment. This builds upon our work and the work of our partners to explore some of the most diverse habitats in Illinois.”

       There are separate guides for the Calumet area, Chicago River, Des Plaines, DuPage River, Fox River, Kankakee River, Kishwaukee River, Lake Michigan, Nippersink Creek and Salt Creek. They contain detailed, step-by-step descriptions for more than 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 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.

       Openlands developed the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trail Plan in 1999 in partnership with Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, Illinois Paddling Council, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and multiple local government agencies. The Grand Victoria Foundation provided essential support for the implementation of the Plan.

For more information on Openlands, visit



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