Hennepin Canal in Illinois

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

The Hennepin Canal is a great place to explore and a fantastic destination for families and groups. The current is very mild, hardly noticeable along much of the canal and the depth is maintained at about 6 feet for the vast majority of its length which makes this waterway a must destination if you plan to paddle with small children.

The feeder canal from Rock Falls south to the main canal is uninterrupted by locks. The east branch (from just west of the visitors center in Sheffield to Bureau Junction near the Illinois River) has 21 locks, portaging some of these is pretty tricky, others are easy, and the bike path is very convenient for portaging.

The west branch (from west of Sheffield to Colona and the Rock River) has just a couple of locks again portaging is easy to tricky, the bike path runs the entire length of the canal.

Historic bridges and engineering sites can be seen along the entire canal, and fishing is good everywhere too.


There is a nice B&B in Sheffield, The Chestnut Street Inn, Princeton, IL and Rock Falls/Sterling have many motels and there are other motels not very far from the canal. Camping areas can be found on both the east and west branches, access the info from IDNR website.

Canal Area Tackle Shop "CATS" in Wyanet, IL has live bait and other fishing tackle as well as rental canoes and kayaks. "CATS" also rents bicycles.


Canal Area Tackle Shop "CATS" in Wyanet Illinois
phone: (815) 878-6822

or Canal Area Tackle Shop at The Hennepin Canal on Facebook


Watercraft must be properly registered, manpowered craft are ok with a paddle stamp


The Hennepin Canal Parkway basically parallels I-80 in Bureau and Henry counties in west central Illinois. The Parkway's Visitor Center is one mile south of I-80, just west of Route 40.

East or westbound travelers on I-80 should take Exit 45, turn right (south) on Route 40. They almost immediately cross the Canal and in about 1 mile is the brown sign directing them to the Parkway Visitors Center. Turn right (west) and proceed to the Center.


Take off on the launching ramp at the Visitor Center complex, Locks 21, 22 & 24, Route 82 north of Geneseo, Route 92, Route 78 north of Annawan, bridge 39, bridge 28 and bridge 45. Or you can choose to put-in and take-out anywhere along the canal, at the locks, campgrounds, and day use areas; some places are pretty easy, others can be tricky



16006 875 E. Street

Sheffield, Illinois 61361

Phone: 815-454-2328

Friends of the Hennepin Canal on Facebook

Canal Area Tackle Shop "CATS" in Wyanet Illinois, canalareatackle.com or Canal Area Tackle Shop at The Hennepin Canal on Facebook (815) 878-6822

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location