Explore Your Lakes and Rivers

Explore Your Lakes and Rivers is designed to acquaint local residents with the water trails surrounding them in the Chicago and Calumet areas. Whether for river cleanups, educational opportunities, or just for fun, these paddling events have brought families out on the water across the area.

Openlands facilitates paddling events and workshops around the region at local parks, along the region’s water trails, or in county forest preserves. These workshops are open to the public, free of charge, and are often coupled with volunteer and stewardship opportunities such as a park cleanup or river cleanup. With the assistance of several partners, canoes and kayaks are provided and first-time paddlers are encouraged to join us!


Upcoming Events and Workshops

Openlands is pleased to announce that our annual cleanup of the Little Calumet River will take place on June 2 — more details coming soon.

We will be posting the schedule of workshops for the rest of spring and summer 2018 soon. You can sign up to receive Openlands’ newsletter for information on upcoming paddling events.

Paddle Illinois Water Trails

Our region is home to numerous lakes and rivers just waiting to be explored. From Lake County to Northwest Indiana, discover one of several trails throughout the area! Openlands’ new paddling website, Paddle Illinois Water Trails, is a comprehensive guide for canoeing and kayaking in the Chicago region. Covering over 500 miles of water trails across 10 of northeastern Illinois’ waterways, this new guide provides rich information about paddling, including step-by-step trips along each trail. The site contains trips and resources for everyone, from first-time paddlers to seasoned boaters.


Paddling events are all open to the public and we encourage you to join us at the next evemt, even if you are a first-time paddler! For more information on Explore Your Lakes and Rivers, please contact paddle@openlands.org.