School has started, evenings come quicker, there’s a morning chill in the air. Labor Day weekend is almost here. What activity stretches the summer, combines experiencing the outdoors with moderate athletic skill and is fun for the entire family. Chicago River Canoe and Kayak offers a new way to explore the great suburban outdoors.
Both kayaks and canoes are available for rent by the hour at the Lagoons in Winnetka (on the south side of Tower Rd west of Forest Way) and at 3400 N. Rockwell (just south of Addison & west of Western). Canoes and single kayaks rent for $15 per hour; tandem kayaks are $20. Life jackets are included. Some like to canoe, I find kayaking much easier. The boat is lighter and more maneuverable. Classes are available. Children who can’t keep up in their own kayak enjoy being passengers (who occasionally help out) in a tandem.
During a one hour paddle at the lagoons a few Sundays ago we rounded an island and watched a deer stand in the water while nibbling overhanging branches. Turtles lined up on a log; several cormorants perched in a dead tree; a great blue heron took off yards in front of our kayak Last year while paddling from the Chicago launch we saw mallard ducks and also poultry (white ducks, geese and a rooster)! Who knew?
Even on the hottest most humid summer day the river is cool and comfortable. Bring sunscreen but leave the bug spray at home. Be prepared to get wet.
Those who are more adventurous can participate in guided trips on local rivers and paddle downtown gazing up at the skyscrapers: pure magic. For more information, call 773-704-2663 (Chicago) or 847-414-5883 (Lagoons in Winnetka) or check out the website chicagoriverpaddle.com.