Friday, May 30, 2008

Canoeing and Kayaking Near Rogers Park?

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.


twestgard said...

I really enjoy canoeing, but that smell is a real barrier for me. There's that sewage treatment plant there, and the area smells like a skanky ass-crack. I just can't imagine wanting to go canoeing there. Even on days when the smell is absent, what if you're out on the boat when the smell arises, and you have to paddle back, breathing that smell the whole way? Yecch. Maybe it's not technically aerosolized poop, but it's definitely not clean air, and I don't want to breathe whatever it is.

lafew said...

Well, there are some places up north that have a similar smell. Also, I don't find Westgard's description to be very accurate. Perhaps, its location is more intimidating to what seems to me like the closed-minded.

I navigate the Channel and so does the Loyola Crew Team, NU Crew and others. Fortunately, few people are as presumptious. Frankly, those who stay away may make it more attractive for those actually use the channel. However, I prefer to head north through Evanston and Wilmette.

Westgard's comments seem to me like the kid who doesn't like his brocoli; the kid won't eat it and it does not matter how healthy it is for him. To each, their own.

The Channel has quite a bit of wildlife. The fact that City Skokie put up the docks and boathouse indicates that there are more open minded people willing to enjoy the herons, rather than presume the opportunity away. Things seem to live rather than die over there, so go figure.

It occasionally smells like peat to me, perhaps mulch at worst at certain points or times, but not always.

Anonymous said...

FROM ANONYMOUS: accidentally lost.

I was glad to find this report on the North Channel, because I was looking forward to trying it. What originally scared me off was not the smell, but the sign posted at the Oakton launch that declares that the water is unsuitable for motor boats, swimming, wading, or ANY HUMAN CONTACT. Since the water life and other humans seem to have survived, I'll give it a shot. :)

lafew said...

I regret that I have not seen the signs referred to posted at the Oakton launch. I would encourage a photo, if you have one, but can easily stop by and photograph the Oakton Boat launch this morning.

I wouldn't swim in the Channel, but I wouldn't swim in the Des Plaines River, either, among other navigable routes.

I am glad that motor boats are banned. Who needs the pollution!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I won't be able to get back to take a picture for a couple of days, but I did find out about this:

"The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago website ( displays a color coded map of Combined Sewer Overflow events on the entire Chicago Area waterways, including the North Shore Channel. This map is updated daily and graphically shows when the channel is unsafe for limited contact recreation use. These activities include recreational boating (kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing) and any limited contact incident to shoreline activity, such as wading and fishing."

It turned out to be a helpful link for all the local waterways...and made me feel better about that sign.

lafew said...

I appreciate the link and regret that you fear the wrath for which there is none but appreciation.

My hope is that the Oakton Boathouse puts signs out to discourage use of the Channel, if necessary. Also, the website seems reliable. Assuming credibility, the best link to the less than favorable days is

This link allegedly provides when the Channel, among other tributaries, should avoided. I appreciate information and am not defensive about it.

I just have not been around Jewel or Home Depot enough years to know that the Channel rarely, if ever, has a scent 'more fragrant' than mulch or peat. Of course, I appreciate the sources, but recall the putrid odor of Greyhound bus bathroom or our building's occasionally unkempt toilet odors. There is no comparison to the Channel.

Fortunately, I have never smelled 'Ode de Greyhound bano' eminating from the North Channel. That is why I have concern over what seems to me to be Mr. Westgard's exaggeration.

lafew said...

I regret the unintended typos. I have lived in Rogers Park for the last ten plus years. Perhaps, Mr. Westgard has spent more time around the area.