Water Trails in Calumet comprise a number of connected natural and man-made waterways, including both rivers and lakes. Thorn Creek and the Upper Little Calumet River are shallow streams with wooded banks, perfect for beginners. The Cal-Sag Channel, Lower Little Calumet, and Calumet Rivers are deep, engineered channels with barge and powerboat traffic, appropriate for experts.
The Chicago River is a long, diverse waterway that begins in Lake County. It includes the Skokie River, Skokie Lagoons, the North Branch, the Main Branch in the downtown area of the city, the South Branch, and the Sanitary and Ship Canal
The Des Plaines River begins in Racine County, Wisconsin and flows south through Illinois for about 95 miles. Along the water trail, it changes its character (and legal classification) from a prairie stream to a large urban river, and then to a major industrial waterway.
The DuPage River is a small-to-medium sized stream flowing north to south through DuPage and Will counties and ending at its confluence with the Des Plaines River in Channahon. The DuPage consists of east and west branches which meet south of Naperville. Together, they make up eighty-four miles of waterway that drain a watershed of 326 square miles.
The Fox River presents a number of varied paddling experiences for different skill levels. As the river enters Kendall County below Montgomery, it becomes a large, quiet, and scenic river flowing mostly through farmland.
The Kankakee River was designated as a National Water Trail in June 2016 for its entire length, starting at its origin in Indiana, all the way to its confluence with the Des Plaines River in Illinois. Where the Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers meet, the river becomes the Illinois River.
The Nippersink Creek, a twenty-three-mile long creek with a 138 square mile watershed, is a major tributary of the Fox River and a safe stream for paddlers of all abilities. Paddling the Nippersink is among the best ways to experience the landscapes of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
Salt Creek consists of four sections, each offering a distinct paddling experience. Paddling is also available at Busse Lake located at the northern end of the trail in Ned Brown Forest Preserve (Busse Woods).