How to Kayak in Streamwood, Illinois

How to Kayak in Streamwood, Illinois
Streamwood, Illinois, is a bedroom community of metropolitan Chicago. The region is in the Northern Illinois Water Trails area and near Lake Michigan, making it a prime region for kayak touring. Lake Michigan affords kayakers many places to ply their sport. The Kankakee River flows through the region as well, allowing gentle kayak touring along the river.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Touring or sea kayak
  • Personal floatation device (PFD)
  • Paddle and spare
  • Paddle float
  • Cell phone and waterproof case
  • Kayak pump
  • Dry bags
  • Nautical charts of Lake Michigan
Step 1
Head to one of the beaches at Streamwood's 26 miles of beachfront. Time your kayak launch from the beach for early morning during summer and fall, as the prevailing winds tend to be at their lightest in the early morning. If you launch during high winds along these beaches, make sure you count out the surf breaks and launch in between the breaks.
Step 2
Keep a copy of the Lake Michigan nautical chart in a waterproof map case on your deck bungee cords so you have a quick reference for navigation. Find the Chicago River Locks on the chart and paddle to them. Observe the Navy Pier as you paddle along this route from Streamwood. This route gives stellar views of the Chicago skyline.
Step 3
Launch your kayaks at the Chippewa Boat Launch in Wilmington Island Park, a 10-mile drive from Streamwood. This is the start for the Kankakee River water trail. Paddle from here to the Warner Bridge Road in Kankakee River State Park for a 13-mile water trail that gives views of Kankakee and Chicago. The water on this trail has one of the higher-rated water qualities in the area.
Step 4
Launch your touring kayaks at the dam in South Elgin and paddle down the Fox river to the Norris Nature Preserve. This route and water trail takes you through birding areas where heron, osprey and water fowl are observed. Pack a picnic and stop at one of the picnicking locations along the route.
Step 5
Time your kayak tour to the Fox or Kankakee Rivers to take advantage of either the late spring greenery or the autumn leave color changes. Dress appropriately for the elements during these times of the year, and pack extra layers in dry bags.

Tips & Warnings

Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when kayaking. Be sure to keep a paddle float rescue device and pump in the kayak for emergencies. Program your cell phone with the Chicago and Streamwood Fire and Rescue departments.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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