Sometimes finding a new river is like opening a new adventure novel, providing action, suspense, and a gripping climax. But for me the Kishwaukee was more of a family classic with a touch of romance; a Mother Nature first edition.
My first time on the Kish was with the Prairie State Canoeists on a section of the north branch from Bauman Park in Cherry Valley, Illinois, down to Atwood Park in the town of Milford, one of the most popular paddling sections of the river. 

“There are three or four favorite trips on the Kish, and that’s probably number one. It’s easily accessible,” said Tom Lindblade, past president of the Illinois Paddling Council (IPC) and current American Canoeing Association whitewater instructor.

Indeed, Bauman Park is a beautiful and spacious park with a sand-and-gravel landing close to the playground and tennis courts. 

The Stateline Paddlers, with their signature green designer hats, also joined the expedition, and together the clubs comprised a fleet of 24 boats.

There had been a recent flood, so the Kish was running at a good clip, and the usual excitement of the launch was highlighted by the fast getaway. Then, in less than an hour of paddling, we were swept around a rippling Hogarth curve and breezed past the landing at Espensheid Forest Preserve. It was a delightful, swirling ride, passing under some overhanging branches river left, accompanied by the soothing sounds of bubbling water that make recreational paddling so invigorating. 

The entirety of Bob McCray's story about the Kishwaukee River appears in the October 2013 issue of Silent Sports. To order a copy or subscribe, call 888/706-4045.