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Go with the flow, sign up for a paddling program today

A group of people in kayaks on a river.
(Photo by Suzy Lyttle)

It’s time to start splish splashing your way through summer with a Forest Preserve District paddling program.

The lineup kicks off with a Kayak Kollege at Monee Reservoir on Tuesday, June 4, and it slips into late summer with an Afternoon Paddle at Hammel Woods – Route 59 Access on Friday, Aug. 30. 

Setting out on the water is a wonderful way to view nature up close while getting some exercise and letting the water drain the stress away.

“We offer many kinds of paddling programs for different ability levels and at a wide variety of locations,” said Cindy Cain, the Forest Preserve’s public information officer. “You can learn how to paddle at a Kayak Kollege program or cruise around a lake at sunrise or sunset.”

Kayak Kollege programs

Kayak Kollege programs will be sprinkled throughout the summer. The workshops feature American Canoe Association certified instructors, are for ages 12 and older (unless otherwise noted) and cost $35 per person. Online registration is available through the Event Calendar and is required for each program. Equipment is provided. Kayak Kollege programs will be offered as follows: 

Recreational paddling programs

Additional recreational programs also will be offered. Previous kayaking experience is recommended or required in some cases for these non-instructional, recreational programs. Equipment is provided. The programs are for 12 or older, and the programs cost $20 per person unless otherwise noted. Participants younger than 18 must be accompanied by a registered adult. 

Additional program details and online registration are available on the Event Calendar. (July and August program registration will be posted to the calendar in the near future.) 

Here are the kayaking programs by month. 


  • Summer Kick-off Paddle: 1-3 p.m. Friday, June 7, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Kick off the summer with a paddling tour of the lake. Paddling experience is required. 
  • Summer Solstice Paddle: 7-9 p.m. Thursday, June 20, Monee Reservoir. Ages 21 or older; $20 per person, $10 per person without watercraft rental. Explore the lake as the sun sets and then end the night with a roaring fire and roast some s’mores. BYOB, beer and wine only. Experience is recommended. 
  • Full Moon Paddle: 7-9 p.m. Friday, June 21, Whalon Lake. Paddle under the full moon followed by a roasting fire and some s’mores. Experience recommended. 
  • Paddle Through History: 10 a.m.-noon Friday, June 28, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville. Ages 18 or older. Enjoy a little history as you paddle along the Des Plaines River. Discover the stories of voyageurs and early Isle a la Cache residents. Experience is required.


  • Sunset Paddle: 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, Monee Reservoir. Ages 10 or older. Experience is required.
  • Morning Paddle: 9-11 a.m. Friday, July 12, Rock Run Rookery Preserve in Joliet. Experience is required. 
  • Surf-n-Turf Concert: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13, Monee Reservoir. All ages; free. Take in live music on the lawn or on the water. Bring your own kayak or rent one. Food trucks will be on site during the concert. BYOB, beer and wine only. 
  • Paddle, Play and Popsicles: 1-3 p.m. Thursday, July 18, Monee Reservoir. Ages 13-17. Participants will compete in paddle game challenges and then cool off with some Popsicles. No previous experience is required. 
  • Morning Paddle: 9-11 a.m. Friday, July 26, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove in Channahon. Ages 18 or older. Experience is required.


  • Mindful Paddle: 4-6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Ages 18 or older. Enjoy a guided reflective experience as you connect to nature through all your senses. Experience is recommended. 
  • I Spy Paddle: 7-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Ages 13 or older. Participants will take part in challenges to discover what’s along the nooks and crannies of the lake. Experience is recommended.
  • River Paddle: 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove. Paddle at the confluence of the DuPage and Des Plaines rivers. Experience is required. 
  • Doughn’t You Want to Paddle?: 8:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Ages 16 or older. Start your morning with coffee, tea, doughnuts and paddling. Experience is required. 
  • Birding by Boat: 8-10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove. View birds from the water in areas that can only be seen by boat. Experience is required. 
  • Rise and Shine Paddle: 9-11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, Monee Reservoir. Ages 18 or older. Experience is recommended. 
  • Afternoon Paddle: 1-3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, Hammel Woods – Route 59 Access. Ages 12 or older. Paddle up the DuPage River and then let the lazy river lead on the way back. Experience is required. 


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