Kankakee River Water Trail

The Kankakee River Water Trail is a 133 mile long blueway located in rural NW Indiana and NE Illinois which traverses what once was the United State's largest wetlands. Around the turn of the 20th century, the entire Indiana stretch was dredged and channelized until it reaches Illinois where it maintains it natural course. The water trail boasts ample public access sites, thousands of acres of natural areas and preserves, remarkable wildlife, overnight camping for paddlers, many historic sites, and a high quality sport fishery.

photo: Photo 1 from one of the Sandhill Crane Paddles Type: National Water Trails System
Length: 133.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses: Boating, Motorized
Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
Camping
Fishing
Heritage and History
Hunting
Wildlife Observation
Agency: Nonprofit
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

See more details.

Become an NRT Ambassador

Join a cadre of volunteers to help improve the data on this trail.

Directions

Location: The Kankakee rises in northwestern Indiana, approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of South Bend and flows to the west where it meets the DesPlaines River in Illinois forming the Illinois River.
States: Indiana
Counties: St. Joseph, LaPorte, Starke, Newton, Jasper, Porter, Lake, Kankakee, Will, Grundy County
Latitude: 41.1671   Longitude: -87.52614

The Kankakee River Water Trail has various public access sites along the entire length of the 133 mile long trail. Please refer to the public access site locations provided.

Description

The Kankakee River Water Trail is a 133 mile long blueway trail that crosses northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois in the United States. At one time, the river drained one of the largest wetlands in North America, known as the Grand Kankakee Marsh, and furnished a significant portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The original Kankakee River was significantly altered from its original channel, it flows through a primarily rural farming region of reclaimed cropland in Northwest Indiana. Once crossing into Illinois, it entering Illinois, the river returns to its natural channel, winding its way to Momence, Illinois. This is the last section of the Great Kankakee Swamp that has never been ditched. It is at Momence that the river crosses a 7 miles (11 km) limestone shelf, referred to as the Momence Dam. This natural feature's resistance to erosion created a blockage in the flow of the Kankakee River, backing up water and thereby creating the Great Swamp that once covered 500,000 acres (200,000 ha).
Beyond Momence, the river takes on a more traditional image, flowing across the rolling hills of Kankakee County. The river enters Will County, Illinois, for only a short distance before joining the Des Plaines River. Here, in the Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area, the two rivers form the Illinois River for the journey to the Mississippi River. The Kankakee River Basin is an area of high ecological and historic significance and the subject of the PBS Documentary - Everglades of the North - the Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh. The water trail boasts ample public access sites, thousands of acres of natural areas and preserves, remarkable wildlife, overnight camping for paddlers, many historic sites, and a high quality sport fishery.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: Rock, boulders
Rock, smooth
Snow or ice
Water, still

Average Grade: 0%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Year Designated: 2016

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Kankakee Co. Farm Bureau
Brochure: Summer 2015 Kankakee River National Wildlife Refug
Brochure: Indiana Dunes Tourism advertisement for paddling t
Brochure: Event brochure for the Kankakee River Sandhill Cra
Brochure: Screenshot of the website from the LaSalle Fish an
Brochure: Screenshot of the Indiana DNR Kankakee Fish and Wi
Brochure: Picture of one of the water trail signs that NWIPA
Brochure: Picture of one of the water trail signs that NWIPA
Brochure: Wilderness Inquiry story on partnering with NWIPA
Brochure: Wilderness Inquiry story on partnering with NWIPA
Map: Screenshot of the ArcGis storymap for the Kankakee
Map: NE Illinois Water Trail Plan Map
Map: Kankakee River Water Trail Map
Map: Kankakee River Water Trail Map - Indiana Section
Other:
Other: Newspaper article on the Kankakee River Water Trai
Other: American Rivers Blueways feature on paddling NW In
Other: Summary of the water trail blueways project that w
Other: Kankakee Water Trail Plan
Other: Newpaper Article on the Aukiki Fest Historic and C
Other: NWI Newspaper Article - Kankakee River Days 2015 -
Other: Chicago Tribune Story on the new Kankakee River Da
Other: Story about the Everglades of the North Paddle 201
Other: Newspaper article about the new Storymap developed
Other: Newspaper article on the launch of the Kankakee Ri
Other: Newspaper story on the new Kankakee River National
Other: August 2015 Kankakee River National Wildlife Refug
Other: Online blog - Story about paddling the Kankakee Ri
Other: Newspaper Article - The Daily Journal - Paddling t
Other: Newpaper Article - South Bend Tribute story on pad
Other: Beacher Newspaper Article on the Kankakee River Ev
Other: Newspaper article on the effort to make the Kankak
Other: Screenshot of the website for the LaPorte Co. Padd
Other: Screenshot of the for the Kingsbury FWA public acc
Other: Screenshot of website for the the Sandhill Crane v
Other: Screenshot of the Jasper Pulaski FWA Public Access
Other: Screenshot 2 - Kankakee Fish and Wildlife Area
Other: Website screen shot from the Grand Kankakee Marsh
Other: Website screen shot for the Kankakee River State P
Other: Website screenshot of the ArcGIS Storymap that is
Other: KRBC Maintenance Trail Description
Other: NE Illinois Water Trail Plan
Other: Letter of support from the Illinois coalition that
Other: Letter of support from our partner, the Kankakee R
Other: Document with all of the letters of support receiv
Other: Restoration plan for the Kankakee - Notre Dame Pro
Other: Website screen shot- Frank Lloyd Wright museum in
Other: Newspaper article on living history festival that
Other: Notre Dame Conservation Planning Guide developed f
Other: Screenshot of the Everglades of the North Document
Other: Screenshot of Reeds Canoe Trip Website - choices o
Other: Screenshot of the Reeds Canoe Trips Website - Pg 2
Other: Screenshot of the Reeds Canoe Trip Website - Pg. 1
Other: Educators Guide - Everglades of the North - The St
Other: Newspaper article advertising the Kankakee River S
Other: Newspaper article - advertisement for the Sandhill
Other: Online advertisement for Chicago River Canoe and K
Other: Newspaper Article - South Bend Tribune covering th

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Jody Melton
Executive Director
Kankakee River Basin Commission
6100 Southport Road
Portage , IN 46368
(219) 763-0696 tel
jmelton@nirpc.org

Trail Management:
Mike Casagrande
Illinois Represenative
Illinois Coalition for the Kankakee River NWT
Kankakee , IL
(815) 573-1839
mcasa888@gmail.com

Trail Management:
Daniel Plath
President
Northwest Indiana Paddling Association
109 West 700 North,
Valparaiso , IN
219-871-9559
dplath@nwipa.org

Trail Management:
Mike Casagrande
Chair
Illinois Coalition for the Kankakee River NWT
, AL
(815) 573-1839
mcasa888@gmail.com

Public Contact:
Daniel Plath
President
Northwest Indiana Paddling Association
109 West 700 North,
Valparaiso , IL 46385
219-971-9559
dkplath@gmail.com

 

Photos


Warning: getimagesize(trailDocuments/thumbs/3915_23_FirstKankakeeRiverPaddlersOvernightCampnowopeninLaPorteCounty.pdf): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /usr/home/americantrails/public_html/americantrails/NRTDatabase/trailDetail.php on line 546
Newspaper article on the leave-no-trace campsites

Newspaper article on the leave-no-trace campsites

Photo from the Everglades of the North Paddle

Photo from the Everglades of the North Paddle

 

Photo from the Everglades of the North Paddle

Photo from the Everglades of the North Paddle

3rd photo from the Everglades Paddle

3rd photo from the Everglades Paddle

 

Picture of one of the native hybiscus

Picture of one of the native hybiscus

Photo 1 from one of the Sandhill Crane Paddles

Photo 1 from one of the Sandhill Crane Paddles

 

Photo from a Kankakee River paddling event

Photo from a Kankakee River paddling event

 

Photo 2 from the Sandhill Crane paddle

Photo 2 from the Sandhill Crane paddle

Photo from the Sandhill Crane paddle

Photo from the Sandhill Crane paddle

 

Photo from a past Sandhill Crane paddle

Photo from a past Sandhill Crane paddle

Sandhill Crane Paddle photo

Sandhill Crane Paddle photo

 

Photo from the LaPorte Leave No Trace paddlers

Photo from the LaPorte Leave No Trace paddlers

Photo from the Paddlers Campsite

Photo from the Paddlers Campsite

 

Campsite photo

Campsite photo

Another campsite photo

Another campsite photo

 

Example of one of the water trail signs

Example of one of the water trail signs

Picture from the Paddlers Camp

Picture from the Paddlers Camp

 

Picture from the Paddlers Camp

Picture from the Paddlers Camp

Reviews

No reviews are available. Be the first to leave one!

 



Enter our contest

We're giving away one Trail Boss mug per month through the end of 2018. Leave a review of this or any trail to be entered into the drawing.

Suggest an Edit

Do you see a problem with this trail data? Contact us below: