Claimed to be one of the cleanest rivers in the Midwest, the Kankakee has ancient wetlands, cliffs and canyons, wooded islands and the gentle farmlands of northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois along the 133-mile stretch. There are four distinct trips – check the website and trip map for details:
- Upper River – Kankakee Headwaters to the Yellow River: This entirely channelized section runs through farmland, with very little tree cover in many areas.
- Wooded Channel – Yellow River to the State Line: This mostly channelized section has more tree cover and runs through several state parks and conservation areas.
- Ancient Wetland – State Line to Momence: At the Illinois state line, the river reverts to a natural meandering course through some of the best wetland habitat in the Prairie State.
- Grand Waterway – Momence to the Illinois River: A boater’s and paddler’s playground through urban and suburban areas, with a long run through Kankakee State Park before meeting the Illinois River.
Recognizing the cultural, environmental, recreational and economic significance of the Kankakee River, its 2016 designation as a National Water Trail, and its related watershed, various individuals came together in 2017 to create the Potawatomi Paddlers Association (PPA). This organization was formed to encourage and enable safe and environmentally-sensitive recreational use of the Illinois portion of Kankakee River National Water Trail for paddle sports, leave-no-trace camping and other non-motorized activities by all people attracted to the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of river recreation. This mission will be accomplished through the planning and implementation of public information and education campaigns, and through activities that build and sustain a positive recreational environment.
The focus of the PPA is to carry out a myriad of planning initiatives and play a key role in changing how municipalities within the Kankakee River watershed treat the River in development ordinances and plans. This includes but is not limited to river edge improvements to include boat landings, water side parks and other enhancements; policy initiatives aimed at improving the quality of the river so that it can support native plants, fish and other wildlife and a variety of recreational uses; on-the-ground projects that result in physical improvements and preservation of quality habitat; and education and outreach programs that inform and inspire people to help revitalize the Kankakee River.
The PPA meets on the second Thursday of each month. As we try to reach out to all areas along the Kankakee River between Momence and Wilmington, the location of our monthly meeting changes each month. Times and locations of our meetings are posted on our Facebook page.
For more information, please contact the Potawatomi Paddlers Association at P. O. Box 503, Kankakee, IL 60901, or contact PPA President Frank Koehler at firstname.lastname@example.org.