Directions: Espenscheid Forest Preserve is located at 4800 South Perryville Road in Cherry Valley, three miles southeast of Rockford. From I-39 take exit 122-A for Harrison Avenue, then turn left onto Perryville Road and drive south for approximately two miles. The entrance to Espensheid Forest Preserve will be on the left and parking is provided. Railroad ties are used as steps down to the river’s edge, and when the river is high, the railroad ties are covered in silt, which can make them slippery.
The take-out at Atwood Park is located at 2685 New Milford School Road in Rockford and is managed by the Rockford Park District. This take-out is lined with gravel and has a corrugated mat at the end of the boat ramp that goes into the river. Parking is provided directly across the road from the take-out site.
Notes: This trip is recommended for beginners and families as river conditions are generally gentle with a few dropoffs that produce riffles and standing waves. It is an excellent stretch of river on which to learn the basics of paddling. Wildlife is varied and plentiful. Common sightings include Cedar Waxwings, Red-Tailed Hawks, and Soft-Shelled Turtles.