Illinois Fox River

The Illinios Fox is a slow marshy river that starts west of Milwaukee and flows south past Chicago and eventually to the Mississsippi.  It’s not an elite river for kayaking, but there are some pleasant stretches.

Trip Reports

Wray Park in Brookfield to Grede Park in Waukesha

Date Paddled: September 26th, 2015
Distance: 6.51 Miles
Time: 4 hours 31 minutes (3 hours might be more typical)

Outside of a boring flowage section, this is a fun trip with nice segments of wetgrass, woods and finally rapids through downtown Waukesha.


River Road to River Road

Date Paddled: June 24th, 2023
Distance: 5.3 miles
Time: Figure 2-3 hours

Located just south of Waukesha, this is a lazy stretch of the Illinois Fox.  It lacks major highlights (other than good water clarity) and isn't an elite water trail but locals may still enjoy it.


Hwy ES to Big Bend Park

Date Paddled: August 7th, 2022
Distance: 7.8 miles
Time: 3 hours

A guest review for the Illinois Fox River below Waukesha.


Fox River Park to Wilmot Access

Date Paddled: August 8th, 2016
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Time: Under an hour

A guest review for the Illinois Fox close to the Illinois border.


Lone Point Shelter to Lone Point Shelter

Date Paddled: September 8th, 2018
Distance: 4.4 miles
Time: 2 hours 41 minutes

A first-time paddle on the Illinois River which featured spectacular wildlife and tall sandstone cliffs.  The trip itself was overshadowed by nearby Starved Rock, which is one of of Illinois' best parks.


Overview Map

Detailed Overview

Nearby Guages



Aug 6th, 2023 - Aaron from Dell Creek
Warning to of 2023-08-06, there are several significant logjams upstream from the mouth of the Pewaukee River.
Oct 17th, 2019 - Aaron from Dell Creek
It's interesting that the rapids wash out at high levels...this means they are likely never too dangerous. It's too bad about our bad weather...normally this would be a perfect time for a fall color paddle. Thanks as always for the information.
Oct 17th, 2019 - Eric Guderyon from Wingra Creek
I did this trip on Sun 9/13( approx 450 cfs , 4.75 ft) it was cold and windy, but I was in the area so I decided to give this trip a try. the water was high and fast, but there were no major obstructions that required me to get out of my boat (other than the dam) but there were a few spots that may have been more difficult if the levels were closer to "normal" Even with the high levels the water clarity was decent, not much wildlife, but as I said it was kind of a blustery fall day. The first part of the trip was surprisingly wooded for being an urban paddle, and the last part after the dam was fast and fun, but the high water washed out the rapids so it was just a fun roller coaster ride. I did a bike shuttle back to Wray Park and it wasn't bad at all. I used the Fox River Bike Trail to the north side of Frame Park, then less then a mile on E Moreland (fairly busy) and then a few small neighborhood streets and a really short stretch on Springfield Rd. A good trip for anyone who lives in the area
May 15th, 2017 - admin
Thanks for the feedback!
May 14th, 2017 - Dave Meyers from Menominee
A: I have a little experience with the Illinois Fox North of River Road (Mitchel Park). I've paddled the length of Mitchel and also a bit further north. This afternoon the water was high but slow as my 8yr old and I paddled our canoe about 1.5 miles upstream from Capitol Ave. before drifting back to Mitchel. There are several submerged snags but no strainers, log jams, rapids or other dicey obstacles. Didn't drop ft as far as the River Road bridge, but suspect it may not be passable at high water. There is a tall flat hill with pvc venting north of Capitol to the east of the river. Looks like an old landfill. The water clarity was mediocre, and there were lots of vegetation debris on the banks. This entire wetland is a giant storm water managment structure for local municipalities. Plenty of wildlife. Many water fowl. 2-3 nests of ducklings and geese. 2 pair of Herons. Large muskrat lodge north of Capitol bridge. I'll explore more carefully when time permits and try to contribute a trip summary. Dave

How did your trip turn out? Questions or comments? Feel free to leave your feedback.

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