Canoe Program


Friends' Canoeing Excursions

Friends will be out on the river on the following dates in 2017. We are also now booking private trips. Advance registration is required in many cases; click each trip for more information. 

Saturday, May 13: Chicago River Day
Saturday, June 3: Little Calumet Clean-Up
Saturday, July 29: Evening Paddle at River Park
Saturday, September 16: North Branch Wilderness
Saturday, September 30: Moonlight Lagoons

Want more paddling? Join us on the following public trips with our partners:
Saturday, April 8: Ralph Frese Memorial Paddle (North Branch)
Wednesday, April 26: Bird ID Cruise with Forest Preserves of Cook County (Skokie Lagoons)
Sunday, May 21: Intro to Canoeing 1 with Chicago Park District (Bubbly Creek--Eleanor St)
Sunday, May 21: Intro to Canoeing 2 with Chicago Park District (Bubbly Creek--Eleanor St)
Saturday, June 10: Beaubien Woods Celebration with Forest Preserves of Cook County (Flatfoot Lake)
Friday, June 23: Botanizing from a Boat with Chicago Park District (River Park)
Saturday, July 8: Kid's Fest with Forest Preserves of Cook County (Wampum Lake)
Thursday, August 3: Teen Exploration Day with Forest Preserves of Cook County (Powderhorn Lake)
Friday, August 4: Botanizing from a Boat with Chicago Park District (Jackson Park)
Wednesday, August 9: Full Moon Celebration with Forest Preserves of Cook County (Skokie Lagoons)
Saturday, August 26: Family Fish Fest with Chicago Park District (Sherman Park)
Saturday, September 9: Family Fish Fest with Chicago Park District (Humboldt Park)
Saturday, October 14: Fall Festival (Skokie Lagoons)

Why Friends? 

Why travel far when you can experience rich wildlife and urban adventure in your own backyard? From tranquil lagoons to the bustle of the city, we have paddles that appeal to all interests and a focus on protecting the wonderful resource that is the Chicago River. No experience necessary—our fun, knowledgeable guides will provide safety and paddling instruction plus all of the necessary equipment. For more information on the background and value of our canoe program, click here

Guest testimonials: 

 Many thanks for the Friends of the Chicago River volunteer [canoe guides]! The volunteers were cheerful, friendly, and resourceful…[they] generally sacrificed themselves for the good of the group. They did all of this with a smile on their faces! What a great bunch of folks! Thanks!  

I just wanted to write to send out a huge THANK YOU everyone who made this trip a success! For many of the families who attended, this was their kids’ first trip on the Chicago River. There were no complaints of sunburn despite the trip being in the full heat of day, only happy smiles and appreciation from everyone who attended! You are the best in the business …and the ONLY ones who focus on protecting the river.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the mimimum age for trip participation? Can I bring my dog in the canoe? Click here to see some frequently asked questions about our canoe trips. 

Friends' Custom Trips

We can customize a canoeing trip for private groups to make your event extra special. Great for all different types of organizations who wish to experience the Chicago River.  

Click Here for our canoe program terms and conditions


Interested in joining our fun community of volunteer canoe guides and spending some quality time on the river? We are always recruiting. Please fill out the application here

River Access

Thinking of launching your boat on the river but not sure where to go? Check out the Paddle Illinois Water Trails site for a list of public put-ins for nonmotorized watercraft. Launches for small motorized watercraft can be found at the Skokie Lagoons (trolling only), Richard J. Daley Park (small fee required), and the Little Calumet Boat Launch. Please follow all regulations when boating on the Chicago River system. 

For more Information

Contact Annette Anderson at (312) 939-0490, ext. 14, or