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Designation of the Kankakee River National Water Trail!

From June 3, 2016

Greetings Kankakee River Water Trail Friends, Partners, and Volunteers,

Today after many years of effort, Dept. of Interior (DOI) Secretary Jewell and National Park Service (NPS) Director Jarvis announced the designation of the Kankakee River Water Trail as a National Water Trail!  We began work on developing the Kankakee River as a water trail 8 years ago with a great deal of work on mapping, public access site development, paddling campsite building, and development of bi-state collaboration. Around 2 years ago, we began a serious effort to finally applying to the DOI and NPS for National Water Trail designation after much improvement of the trail’s infrastructure.

This bi-state effort to designate the Kankakee River a NWT has been a great undertaking which has brought together around 100 stakeholders from across Illinois and Indiana including strong support from our municipalities, industry, agriculture, business, tourism, educators, elected officials, fellow paddling groups, historic societies, economic development, conservation organizations, and all levels of government.  What we have accomplished together is nothing short of spectacular.  The 133 mile long Kankakee River Water Trail will join the company of only 20 designated National Water Trails in the entire United States!  This will be the first National Water Trail in Indiana and only one of the few bi-state National Water Trails.  From the time when we first turned in the application more than a year ago, we have been told that NPS was overwhelmed by the strong support that the National Water Trail. This entire effort is a great example of what is possible if we all work together collaboratively. We cannot express our deepest gratitude enough for all of your help making this dream a reality!

Below is the press release from the Department of the Interior:


For those who might have questions about what will change with the new National Water Trail status, we offer these resources.

  • What will be the benefits of the Kankakee River becoming a National Water Trail (NWT)? –In a nutshell, NWT designation will increase community-based recreational opportunities, help marketing, improve public access safety, boost tourism, spur economic growth, assist with public health improvements, and provide a venue for environmental education.  We believe the NWT designation will help us attract more resources to improve public access, increase safety, and continue to provide a vital resource that our communities can be proud of.
  • What will change if the Kankakee River becomes a National Water Trail? -Designation as a National Water Trail will not impose any new regulations on the waterway, does not interfere in any way with a landowner’s rights or use of property, and does not interfere with local management of the waterway.  There are no intentions to impose any new rules or regulations anywhere on the Kankakee River.
  • GIS Water Trail Map– A comprehensive Water Trail GIS based Story Map website has been developed which can be found at kankakeeriverwatertrail.org. The resource provides a great deal of information that will help paddlers safely explore the Kankakee River National Water Trail.

Over the coming few weeks, we plan to hammer out plans to celebrate the Kankakee River National Water Trail designation.  We will send you the information as soon as we finalize the details. Until then, thank you so much for all of your support and have a fantastic weekend!  Please contact me or Mike Casagrande if you have any questions.


Dan Plath, President

Northwest Indiana Paddling Association


(219) 871-9559


Mike Casagrande

Illinois Kankakee River Water Trail Rep.


(815) 573-1839

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