Where the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers come together to create the Illinois River, a unique configuration of connecting waterways form an enjoyable water trail loop.
Directions: Paddle approximately 3.5 miles downstream on the Kankakee River to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. Approximately one mile up the Des Plaines is the other access site, on the north bank, at McKinley Woods Forest Preserve in Will County. Landing is possible at the small limestone shelter overlooking the river. Campsites can be reserved at nearby Boatman’s Landing Area by contacting the Forest Preserve District of Will County in advance.
Approximately 0.5 miles upstream is the mouth of the Grant Creek cut-off. A little less than a mile into the cut-off, Grant Creek enters on the left bank. Do not enter Grant Creek.
Instead, continue approximately 0.5 miles south on the cut-off until it ends. Portage over the small strip of land into the Kankakee River cut-off, on the other side. Paddle south another 0.5 miles until you enter the Kankakee River. Less than a half mile upstream from the mouth of the Kankakee cut-off is the Kankakee River boat launch area, on the left bank.
For a longer trip, paddle the I&M Canal and DuPage River, which can be accessed approximately three miles southwest of the intersection of I-55 and Route 6 in Channahon. The water trail begins at the parking lot, just south of Bridge Street, two blocks downstream of the dam. Launch on the east side of the parking lot into the DuPage River. Paddle approximately 0.7 miles south to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. Another 1.5 miles downstream, enter the Grant Creek cut-off, on river left. Portage into the Kankakee River cut-off and out into the Kankakee River. Turn right and paddle downstream to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. Take out on the opposite (north) bank, portage over the levee and down into the I&M Canal. Paddle upstream (to the east) past McKinley Woods. From the McKinley Woods landing it is another three miles on the canal back to the I&M State Trail Access parking lot.
Always check United States Geological Survey (USGS) water data before your trip.