your paddlesports destination

Fox River in Illinois

by CD1

Trip Overview

Fox River, from just north of St Charles Dam to south Elgin.

Pnetter Bruce:
Cooldoctor1 and I met at the parking lot of Geneva Kayak. We then drove to CD's condo across the river. It is a beautiful condo- spacious with a view of the Fox. We then drove a bit north to a gravel area in St. Charles where we were able to launch. We were a bit nervous because the water was flowing very quickly in that locale. Nevertheless, when we were on the river, we managed to move upstream at a respectable pace. We encountered some areas where the flow was much stronger than in other areas and we got a vigorous workout. The Fox was very high and the water reached some of the homes on the banks. There were some very nice homes on the banks. I suspect that due to the water levels, the river was wider than usual. There are also some wooded islands on the Fox. I don't know how far we paddled because we didn't have a GPS but we stopped near a bridge in South Elgin. I would guess we paddled five miles upstream.

When we turned around to return downstream, we thought it would be quite easy and in certain areas we flew. THEN- a strong wind came out of the south which created waves and slowed us down. We saw one other kayaker on the water and he was just hugging the shore in a 10' boat. There were some canoes that appeared to be racing. We made it back to the launch in 1/3 of the time it took to go upstream.

We then walked across the street and CD treated me to Mexican cuisine. After I ate the enchiladas con chorizo (pork), I remembered there was a potential pandemic. However, the meal was good so I didn't mind. We didn't see much wildlife; only geese and ducks. The foliage was varied and attractive. CD's new used Argonaut sectional yak is very attractive and he seemed comfortable in it.

It was a very nice day and I would recommend that section of the Fox to any paddler.

Pnetter CD1:
Enjoyed posting this Fox River run on Pnet, and found only stalwart paddler Bruce as an accomplice on this 70F sunny springtime day. Excellent write up above. We put-in on Second Street in St Charles, about two blocks behind the Baker Hotel. It is a rocky riprap put-in immediately beside the parking lot, and frankly, the only reason it worked is because the water was high. It could be boat damaging.

Once on the fast-slowing river, we paddled north under the bridge, by Pottawanomie Park and Golf Course, and saw an ideal put-in at Ferson Creek Park (which can be found by continuing north on Second Street). Here the launch would have been grassy (albeit with a few fishermen to contend with) and parking available�we will try this next time. The sojourn north had at 2 mph (at least) current against us, and in particular the hairpin turn by Riverside Street left us struggling for breathe. Nothing will ever compare to the upstream paddle at Kankakee River State Park through the �Kankakee Dells� a couple years ago. We ended our upstream paddle opposite the Blackhawk Forest Preserve, at a bike/pedestrian bridge that crosses the Fox. A 15 minute break and some Gatorade, and we head back downstream, enjoying the ride until the wind kicks up in our face. A spoiler. But indeed, we arrived back at the launch almost precisely in � the time it took us to go upstream.

This river is highly recommended. Paddlewheelers, parks, mansions, modest homes, wildlife. It really has it all. Bruce and I vowed to explore the rest of the Fox. I would like to put-in at Ferson Creek Park and paddle to the South Elgin Dam when river not quite as fast. Thank you for reading about the Fox River in St. Charles, Illinois.


Hotel Baker is high end hotel at the launch, many bed and breakfasts locally.


IL Dept Natural Resources boat license if you live in IL; no pass or registration to paddle the middle Fox River.


St Charles, IL is on Route 64, approx 40 miles west of Chicago. Can be reached by IL-47 from the west, and I-355 to Route 64 from Chicagoland.


Delorme Gazetteer Illinois
Mike Svob book: "Paddling Illinois"
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip