Confluence Loop


Confluence Loop

Skill Level

Intermediate To Expert

Trail Length

8 miles

Waterway Trail

Where the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers come together to create the Illinois River, a unique configuration of connecting waterways form an enjoyable water trail loop.

Directions: Enter the Kankakee River at the Des Plaines State Fish & Wildlife Area launch and paddle approximately 3.5 miles downstream to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. From here, head upstream on the Des Plaines. Approximately one mile up the Des Plaines is the other access site, on the north bank, at the Frederick’s Grove unit of McKinley Woods Forest Preserve in Will County. Landing is possible at the small limestone shelter overlooking the river. Campsites can be reserved in the Frederick’s Grove unit by contacting the Forest Preserve District of Will County in advance.

Approximately 0.5 miles upstream from the McKinley Woods site is the mouth of the Grant Creek cut-off. Enter the cut-off and head south under the Des Plaines River Road bridge. A little less than a mile into the cut-off, Grant Creek enters from the east (41.377676, -88.223411). Do not enter Grant Creek.

Instead, continue approximately 0.5 miles south on the cut-off until it ends. Portage over the small strip of land into the Kankakee River cut-off, on the other side. Paddle south another 0.5 miles until you enter the Kankakee River. Less than a half mile upstream the Kankakee River from the mouth of the Kankakee cut-off is your point of beginning at the Des Plaines State Fish & Wildlife Area launch.

For a longer trip, paddle the I&M Canal and DuPage River, which can be accessed approximately three miles southwest of the intersection of I-55 and Route 6 in Channahon. The water trail begins at the parking lot, just south of Bridge Street, two blocks downstream of the dam. Launch on the east side of the parking lot into the DuPage River. Paddle approximately 0.7 miles south to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. Another 1.5 miles downstream, enter the Grant Creek cut-off, on river left. Portage into the Kankakee River cut-off and out into the Kankakee River. Turn right and paddle downstream to the confluence with the Des Plaines River. Take out on the opposite (north) bank, portage over the levee and down into the I&M Canal. Paddle upstream (to the east) past McKinley Woods. From the McKinley Woods landing it is another three miles on the canal back to the I&M State Trail Access parking lot.

Always check United States Geological Survey (USGS) water data before your trip.

2 thoughts on “Confluence Loop”

  1. Does the skill level remain intermediate to expert while the Dresden Dam is closed for repairs?

    Some paddlers believe that while the Dresden dam is closed, there should not be much commercial traffic making the Confluence appropriate for advanced beginners.

    Please advise,


    1. Thanks for bringing this up Nava! While we do our best to advise on appropriate skill level, we urge site users to keep in mind that our waterways are dynamic features and will vary over time. Hazardous conditions can occur anywhere along the trails, and paddlers are responsible for their own safety.

      In this case the hazard of commercial traffic on the Confluence Loop may be limited by the dam/lock closure tentatively scheduled to extend through September 30th, 2023. However, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has stated that recreational and commercial vessels will be able to navigate within the pools without restriction. We continue to think of the Confluence Loop as Intermediate to Expert.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Trails in this Waterway System

Get Outside Trails Nearby

north of Wilmington, IL

Palatine, IL

North of Highland Park, IL

Scroll to Top