Paddling Trips

Experience Our River Trips

Rivers once served as hubs of commerce and social gatherings. Today, our rivers have transformed into thoroughfares to tranquility and relaxation. Escape the concrete and surrounding bustle with a float down Illinois only National Scenic River.

River trips include paddles and PFD, plus transportation to the starting point. On trips that do not finish at the Kickapoo Landing, the price also includes a pickup and shuttle back to Kickapoo Adventures. Trips are unguided; paddle at your own pace.

Trip Information

Middle Fork River

Upper Section

The upper section behaves like a younger sibling; smaller, distracted and less tamed. The river bends and lurches like an impatient child, flowing around an exposed gravel bar island, discarded like a forgotten toy. Low bluffs checkered with forest and plains are interspersed with high, eroded cliffs weathered into sculpted poses along the banks. Apart from the sounds of water gurgling down various ries, the breeze swaying through the trees, and the birds songs and calls, all is quiet.

While shorter, this section can be more technical, especially at higher water levels, due to narrower stretches and greater possibility of downed trees or other strainers. Previous paddling experience suggested when levels exceed three feet.

Launch the canoes or kayaks at Kinney’s Ford Canoe Access and wind through the river to Kennekuk County Park, approximately 5.5 miles. Shuttle busses will pick you up and return you to Kickapoo adventures; some waiting time is expected.

The Salt Fork/Vermilion River is the low water alternative to the Middle Fork. Kickapoo Adventures runs this trip when the Middle Fork water levels drop below navigable depths. The Vermilion River is further downstream , providing enough water for an enjoyable outing during dry conditions. During drought periods, even the Vermilion can become unnavigatable.

Middle Fork River

Lower Section

The lower section is where the Middle Fork earns its reputation. The forested valleys deepen, the cliffs tower higher, the river broadens with forces that have carved channels through the shale formations for millennia roil in small waves that shoot your watercraft downstream. With the wider banks, longer stretches, and fewer obstacles, this section makes an excellent choice for large group outings. Canoes and kayaks are perfect choices for a long remember excursion.

Although the lower section is considered a beginner friendly river, please note that all rivers contain potential hazards. The lower section includes the stronger ‘riffle’ areas, which can cause capsizes.

The trip launches from Kennekuk County canoe access ramp (alternate launch site is Bunker Hill canoe access, to be determined by Kickapoo Adventures). It finishes near Kickapoo Adventures store and vehicle parking.

Middle Fork River

Upper and Lower Sections

Make your day an adventure! Paddle both sections of the river for a full day of memorable sights, sounds, and experiences. Almost 13.5 miles of beautiful woods, meadows, sandbars, and shale bluffs. Pack a lunch, grab your sunscreen and get ready for a full day outdoors!

The upper and lower sections both lie within the National Scenic River designated area of the Middle Fork River. Select this trip to enjoy almost the entire expanse of the scenic corridor and witness why Kickapoo is a hidden gem within Central Illinois.

This full day trip starts at Kinney’s Ford and finishes at Kickapoo State Park. Due to the length of the trip, departures are limited to 10:00 or earlier. Paddlers must return by 5:00 pm.

Salt Fork River

Lazy Paddling

When the Middle Fork water levels drop too low, we head to deeper water. Downstream, beyond the mai of the Salt Fork and Middle Fork, the river levels allow paddlers to enjoy a relaxing 3 hour river trip.

The Salt Fork/Vermilion River is broader. Its shallow, sandy bottom provides clear visibility and the temptation to hop out onto its many sand and gravel bars. At the low water levels when we schedule this trip, the current shifts into sightseeing mode; a perfect pace for a casual paddle on a summer day.

The Salt Fork is not part of the National Scenic River, but it is enjoyable in its own right. With the vestiges of civilization few and far between, you will feel miles away from everyday life. Birds shoot out from shore, fish dart underneath, even the occasional deer may appear as a startled spectator.

This trip is a double shuttle, requiring transport to the put-in and from the take-out back to Kickapoo Adventures. The takeout requires a short paddle upstream to the pick-up site. Also, a low head dam is located a short distance from the take-out, miss the turn and you will encounter it.

Middle Fork River Info

Middle Fork River Map

Salt Fork River Map