Latest News

Happy Canoe Year!

Dec 21, 2011

Happy Canoe Year

Ring in the New Year with a Paddle Trip down the North Branch of the Chicago River

Happy Canoe Year! On January 1, 2012, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County will host the annual New Year’s Day Canoe Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River. Experienced paddlers are invited to participate in this free event, which begins below the Skokie Lagoons and finishes approximately 4 miles later in Linne Woods. In 2011, more than 300 people participated.

The New Year’s Day Canoe Paddle is presented by the Forest Preserve District in conjunction with the Illinois Paddling Association and supported by Prairie State Canoeists. The event was founded in 1985 by Ralph Frese.

Participants must bring their own boats and personal floatation devices and dress in clothing that retains warmth if wet. All participants will be checked for proper clothing and equipment before launching.

Paddling any river in cold weather is inherently dangerous. This event is best suited to experienced paddlers and/or people with experience in cold-weather sports.


The trip begins at Willow Road, east of the Edens at Forestway Drive.  Access to the boat launch is just below the Willow Road Dam. The trip ends at the Linne Woods Canoe Access a few hundred yards downstream from the horse bridge in Linne Woods. Linne Woods is located on Dempster Street at Ferris Ave., east of Lehigh Ave.


January 1, 2012; boats launch between 9am – 11am. Participants should plan to drop their gear at the Willow Road Dam, and then drive their cars to the Linne Woods finish point. Shuttle busses will provide transportation between the two locations from 8am – 2pm.

Paddlers should allow 45 – 60 minutes for the bus shuttle and two – three hours for the paddle itself.


Paddlers must wear a Personal Flotation Device and clothing that retains warmth when wet (layering of wool or fleece and synthetic undergarments works best.) Participants are encouraged to bring non-alcoholic beverages, a complete change of warm clothes in a waterproof container, a cell phone waterproofed in a zip-lock freezer bag, and a hearty sense of humor.

Are you prepared for winter paddling? Download the Happy Canoe Year Canoe and Kayak Paddlers Safety Checklist before you go.


Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County