Bemis Woods to Brookfield Canoe Launch


Bemis Woods to Brookfield Canoe Launch

Skill Level

Beginner To Intermediate

Trail Length

8 miles

Waterway Trail

Put-In Parking Directions: Bemis Woods, owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, is located on the west side of Wolf Road, approximately 0.4 miles south of 31st Street, in Westchester.

Take-Out: Brookfield canoe launch, owned by the Village of Brookfield, is located just north of Brookfield Avenue and east of Forest Avenue, behind the Brookfield Village Hall.


  • Approximately .25 mile downstream of the Wolf Road bridge are the remnants of an old dam passable only through the middle of the stream. Low water or debris pile-ups may require portaging.
  • Approximately 0.4 mile downstream of the 31st Street Bridge is the Possum Hollow Dam.  This low dam is visible only in low water conditions. Paddle through the canoe chute on the river right side of the dam.
  • Approximately 0.9 mile after passing under the Maple Avenue bridge, there is a water diversion pipe, which diverts water to the Des Plaines River during high water events. Avoid the diversion area by staying river right.
  • Downstream of the second 31st Street bridge, there are two low bridge crossings associated with Brookfield Zoo. During high water events, passing beneath these bridges may be restricted. Portaging may be required.

Notes: This trip is a shorter version of the Dean Nature Sanctuary to Plank Road Meadow. It follows one of the oldest greenways in the country, passing through forest preserves, parks, and the Brookfield Zoo, although there is no public access to the zoo from the creek.

Please respect the privacy of riparian landowners—no landing on private property.

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