On January 1, 2014, the Forest Preserves of Cook County will host the annual New Year’s Day Canoe Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River. Experienced paddlers are invited to participate in this free tradition, which begins below the Skokie Lagoons and finishes approximately four miles south in Linne Woods.

The New Year’s Day Canoe Paddle is presented by the Forest Preserves in conjunction with the Illinois Paddling Council. The event has been an annual New Year’s Day tradition since its founding in 1985 by Ralph Frese. In past years, more than 300 paddlers have participated.

Participants must bring their own boats and personal floatation devices and dress in clothing that retains warmth if wet. All participants will be checked for proper clothing and equipment before launching.

Paddling any river in cold weather is inherently dangerous. This event is best suited to experienced paddlers and/or people with experience in cold-weather sports.

For more information, visit www.fpdcc.com.

The trip begins at Willow Road, east of the Edens at Forestway Drive in Winnetka. Access to the boat launch is just below the Willow Road Dam. The trip ends at the Linne Woods Canoe Access a few hundred yards downstream from the horse bridge in Linne Woods. Linne Woods is located on Dempster Street at Ferris Ave., east of Lehigh Avenue in Morton Grove.
January 1, 2014

Registration begins at 8:30 am.

Boats launch between 9 and 11am. Participants should plan to drop their gear at the Willow Road Dam, then drive their cars to the Linne Woods finish point. Shuttle busses will provide transportation between the two locations from 8 am to 2 pm.

Paddlers should allow 45 to 60 minutes for the bus shuttle and two to three hours for the paddle itself.

Paddlers must wear a Personal Flotation Device and clothing that retains warmth when wet (layering of wool or fleece and synthetic undergarments works best). Participants are encouraged to bring non-alcoholic beverages, a complete change of warm clothes in a waterproof container, a cell phone waterproofed in a zip-lock freezer bag, and a hearty sense of humor.

For full event details, including a preparation checklist and river condition updates close to paddle day, paddlers can visit fpdcc.com/happy-canoe-year/ or call (708) 771-1010.