Yesterday, Hubby and I canoed the second section of the Des Plaines River, from Wadsworth Road to Grand Avenue. Last year we canoed section one, and loved it, so we couldn't wait to get out this year. We put in at the canoe launch at Wadsworth Road and started paddling. During this part of the paddle the river was wide with tall grass along the shores, we were paddling mid-day so the sun was strong and there was little shade on the river. We saw signs for portages but the water level was high enough we never encountered any log jams; however, about half way through the trip there is a rock damn that must be portaged. We portaged to the right side, I'd recommend portaging to the left; obviously either side works, but left is easier with less rocks to navigate and trip on. After the portage the river becomes more wooded and shady. There are several downed trees, but the trees never blocked the entire river and could be canoed around. During this portion you do canoe past some peoples backyards, but houses were set much further away. On this section, two bridges are canoed under one which is 41 (Skokie Highway) and the other is Grand Avenue. After canoeing under the bridge at Grand, our trip was almost over, since we took out at Gowe Park (behind the Old Warren High School). This trip was 6.2 river miles but only took us about 2 1/2 hours, because the river had a nice current due to the heavy rains of last month.
Here's the things I really liked about this portion of the river:
-Easy access. Both launches were nicely kept with ample parking. The easy accessibility is really key with canoeing in a suburban area, it makes the trip convenient and straightforward allowing more people to get out and paddle.
-Lots of birds. We saw cranes and/or heron, red winged blackbirds, grackles, mallard ducks, and more that I don't know the name of.
-Plenty Deep. While I do think the river was deeper than it normally might have been, I would expect this section is nearly always deep enough to canoe without ever dragging bottom.
Here's a few things I didn't care for as much:
-Traffic and Powerlines. Most of the river runs right along Highway 41 which means you listen to traffic for much of the trip. And on this section of the river there are high tension lines crackling overhead while canoeing through Gurnee.
Again, I think this is the trade off. While not providing a complete wilderness excursion, the trip was convenient, allowing us to paddle for a few hours on Saturday morning, and have the rest of the day to enjoy other summer activities.