Paddle-A-Trail Month

Paddle-A-Trail Month

You Can Be a Paddling Guide Author!

The Event

The Northeastern Illinois Water Trails “Paddle-A-Trail” (PAT) Month will take place during the entire month of June. Join area paddlers in the grand tradition of Louis and Clark in this “Water Trail Corps of Discovery” by choosing a stretch of a Northeastern Illinois Water Trail to paddle. Record information on your "Journey of Discovery" on the "WaterLog Report Form" while exploring your chosen stretch of water-trail. Once you've returned from your journey, report the vital information you've recorded to the on-line "Water Log" about the details and the quality of the trip.

Formerly known as the “Water Trail Blitz”, this unique event began in June 2005. Paddlers from all over the northeastern Illinois region have participated in this inventory of water-trails over the last few years to create the very first paddler-written on-line paddling guide to our region's waterways. Canoeists and Kayakers have explored local streams and rivers and reported their experiences seeing abundant wildlife, portaging log jams and discovering surprising natural beauty.

Read Paddle-A-Trail reports from past years here.

The Water Log

Paddlers are invited to paddle their favorite stretch of river or explore a new water-trail and report their results to the “Water Log” on Openlands website anytime during June. Paddle-A-Trail participants can download and print a “Water Log” form to help record their trip as they paddle. The easy to fill out form captures essential information such as the stretch paddled, the put-in and take-out data, trail conditions and points of interest along the stretch or nearby. Most of the form is completed by checking your choice of check-boxes but it also allows for brief written descriptions. The paddler written and compiled Water Log Reports create a dynamic and current “living canoe guide” to the region's water-trails.

The Places for Paddlers webpage provides suggested day trips including the difficulty and length of each. Participants who do not have their own canoe or kayak can find information about liveries that rent and provide shuttle service here or can join one of the public guided trips described below.

Be a paddling guide author!

Participate in Paddle-A-Trail Month in June and help Openlands, the IPC and the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water-trail Council create a current, complete, paddler-written, paddling guide for local water-trails.


Public Paddle-A-Trail Month

Recommended Trips

Recommended Paddle-A-Trail Month easy, shorter and beginner trips

Recommended Paddle-A-Trail Month trips for experienced paddlers

See a list of places to rent a canoe or kayak


Public Paddle-A-Trail Month Events

For those who would rather join a guided trip, a variety of public Paddle-A-Trail Month events will be listed closer to June


Northeastern Illinois Water Trails

The Northeastern Illinois Water Trail System includes the Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, Salt Creek, the Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers, parts of the Cal Sag Channel and Thorn

Creek, the DuPage River, the Kishwaukee River, Nippersink Creek and the sections of the Fox, Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers.

The first of its kind regional system described in the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trail Plan was co-authored by Openlands, the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) and The Access Project of the Illinois Paddling Council. The Plan was adopted as an official plan for the region by NIPC in 1999. The Plan provides a vision and framework for creating a regional system of safe, legal and adequate access for non-motorized boating on our region's waterways in order to improve our quality of life and encourage stewardship of local rivers and streams.

Other northern Illinois watertrails include the Pecatonica River and Yellow Creek.

Reports on watertrails throughout Illinois are encouraged and will be posted on the WaterLog.

For more information contact Gary Mechanic at or call 773-590-0710 during business hours.




Openlands is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the natural and open spaces of Northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, to protect natural habitats and wildlife, and to help balance and enrich our lives. Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation's oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure and protect more than 45,000 acres of land for public parks, forest preserves, land and water greenway corridors and urban gardens.

The Illinois Paddling Council has represented the interests of Illinois paddlers since 1963. The Illinois Paddling Council strives to:

  • Improve access to Illinois waterways.
  • Advocate for the conservation and restoration of Illinois rivers and lakes.
  • Provide information about paddlesport to paddlers and the general public.
  • Promote paddling safety and education.
  • Promote paddling competition and sanction races in Illinois.
  • Recognize excellence in paddlesport by presenting a "Illinois Paddler of the Year" and Racing awards.

The Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Council is a coalition of Park, Forest Preserve and Conservation Districts, County and regional planning agencies, paddlesport businesses, paddling clubs and paddlers, Openlands and the Illinois Paddling Council. The Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Council works to implement the recommendations of the Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Plan and promotes the development, use and stewardship of the regional system.



Download the WaterLog report form or file a trip report.