Welcome

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Welcome to the only guidebook for the water trails of Northeastern Illinois!

The Northeastern Illinois water trails system encompasses 10 waterways. These water trails offer a variety of experiences, ranging from creeks that flow through densely wooded forest preserves to the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago as seen from Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The water trails of northeastern Illinois present paddling experiences found few other places in the world.

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


It is our hope to inform people where they can paddle in Northeastern Illinois, what to expect to see on the different water trails, where they can rent equipment, and to connect people to other resources about paddling in the Chicago region and in other places in Illinois.

On each water trail page there is a place to share comments on any information that will be helpful to other paddlers (such as log jams, low water levels, or high traffic). Tell what you experience, share what you discover, and please use these resources to discover the water trails of Northeastern Illinois!

Happy Paddling!

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