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, and the Nippersink watershed is a major focus for Openlands in our ongoing restoration at the refuge.
The McHenry County Conservation District provides a water trail on the creek that can serve as a model for the region. Access and facilities are excellent from Keystone Landing below Wonder Lake to the Nippersink Canoe Base near the Fox River Chain O’Lakes and Route 12. Rest stops and picnic areas are carefully thought out, and there is little sign of trampling or misuse.
The Nippersink offers a quiet, enjoyable canoe experience away from noisy boat traffic, shoreline development, and potentially dangerous dams. Water quality is excellent in the Nippersink, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency designates part of the water trail as a “highly valued aquatic resource.”