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Newest launch on Central Illinois’ Sangamon River: Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve

Launch Site: Sangamon River at Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve

By Scott Hays, IPC President and Commissioner, Champaign County Forest Preserve District

This summer saw the very welcome addition of the second canoe and kayak launch on Central Illinois’ Sangamon River. The site is in Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve near Mahomet. For those unfamiliar with the area, Mahomet is right next to Champaign and Urbana, home to the main campus of the U of I.

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District constructed this site located in Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve. Once there, just follow the signs toward the Izaak Walton Cabin at Lake of the Woods just north and east of Mahomet. Continue past the cabin and the Sycamore Shelter and you’ll find one of the best little sites on the Sangamon to launch your paddlecraft!

The Forest Preserve created a grated, porous, pea gravel base instead of solid concrete for easier site maintenance. The site boasts two launches, one designed for lower water and one along the Lake of the Woods spillway designed for higher water. Forest Preserve construction crew built the launch with no external funding for an estimated materials cost of around $30,000.

Coupled with a recently completed downriver launch, paddlers can experience a short adventure on the Sangamon as it wends and weaves its way under I-74 and around the Village of Mahomet. They will escape to the natural beauty of the tree covered canopy over the river as it flows through this relatively populated rural area.

Be careful though, the Sangamon River is narrow in this area and bank erosion creates deadfall hazards for paddlers. Downed trees create ‘siphons’ that can turn a relaxing float into a potentially deadly adventure for an inexperienced paddler in seconds. Paddlers on this and any other river should have a level of training in rapidly maneuvering their craft.

But as long as you’re careful, you’ll enjoy a pleasant and relaxing afternoon or our beautiful Sangamon River.

Come and visit us soon!

 

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