The Friends of the Chicago River make this clear. There are places near Rogers Park to launch a canoe, kayak, or crew team. Friends has good maps to help make the trip work at no charge. We purchased our first canoe at Sam's Club for less than $250 with tax about seven years ago. No one seemed to figure it out. It took us little time to find the Oakton Boat Launch at Oakton and McCormick. For those who have witnessed the Herons on a serene weekday, it is fascinating that these options exist within cycling distance,yet are ignored by many Chicagoans.
Maybe it is fear of the unknown. Maybe they make an excuse that they will get hit by a golf ball or think that the earthy smell by the filtration plant off McCormick is pollution. The Northshore Channel 'had' a reputation. However, over time, the fish, turtles, herons and other life have returned. The area is a mecca of tranquility for anyone wanting a relatively peaceful moment in nature. You can take canoe tours off McCormick. However, if you have past experience, the Friends of the River is looking for volunteer Canoe Guides
I can't understand why the crew teams are nearly the only ones who use the Dammrich Rowing Center at 3220 W. Oakton, but this is changing. Dammrich is not the only boat launch or nearby River. Another launch is off Devon in back of the Whealan Swimming Pool at 6200 W. Devon near Super Dawgs. If you want to canoe with a group consider Chicago River Canoe and Kayak at Oakton; they have Moonlight Dinner Paddles.
If you fear dams and the trip back, then speak with an expert. Ralph Frese is one of the foremost canoe experts in the Midwest. Chicagoland Canoe base rents and sells both canoes and kayaks. Ralph will also equip you with a rack and instructions on how to keep the canoe securely strapped at highway speeds. Of course, we now have a kayak store in Rogers Park, but if we don't use it or it does not create options for residents, it will not sell.
I have heard of at least one Chicago high school student, who travelled by kayak to classes at Northside College Prep. Yet, I have not heard of anyone who has enough time to kayak to the loop. Cycling is about an hour and twenty at a reasonable pace from north Rogers Park to the South Loop.
Is there any reason why residents need to make excuses that their local environment doesn't have options other than concrete? I guess it all depends upon what we want to do with our time.