The Kishwaukee is a beautiful river that offers some of the highest quality aquatic habitat in northeast Illinois. The river is home to over 1,000 species of plants, 59 species of fish, and 28 endangered species including the Sandhill Crane, Speckled Adler, and Mulberry-Winged Butterfly. Rabbits, woodchuck, and herons are common sights along the river, and river otters recently began inhabiting the region.
The Main Branch of the Kishwaukee flows east-west and is approximately 63 miles long. The river begins as a small, wetland stream in Woodstock and ends at its confluence with the Rock River, south of Rockford. The entirety of the river’s watershed covers 1,257 square miles, spreading across McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, DeKalb, and Kane counties. Most of the watershed area is currently used for agriculture.
From the east, the river’s first launch site is located at County Line Road. on the border of McHenry and Boone Counties. From there, the river flows west through Redhorse Bend, after which non-motorized launches are located every three to five miles. The Belvidere Park Dam, located within Belvidere Municipal Park must be portaged on the left/south side of the dam. Launch sites are provided by the Boone County Conservation District, the Belvidere Park District, and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District.