Hike and Paddle- Des Plaines River

Description: Launching from Vernon Hills, the urban environment disappears as we follow the Des Plaines River through the forest preserves of Lake County. This section of the Des Plaines River remains in its natural state and is home to ducks, geese, great blue herons, migrating waterfowl, many land based bird species, as well as beaver, deer, and the protected river otter. The shoreline is home to many river plant and tree species and in places the efforts of man to tame the river are evident. We will travel through and past many significant forest preserve sites before reentering the urban environment when we cross into Cook County and approach our take out point. Our journey and exploration include a lunch stop at the historic Ryerson Cabin where we will discuss some of the local history and take advantage of the nearby conservation trail to discover more of the natural vegetation of the area. This trip is rated at an Advanced Beginner level as the river has several bends that require maneuvering and, depending on water levels, may require a portage. Distance: 8 miles on water, 1-2 miles on land.

Skills you'll learn:

Basic Kayaking and hiking skills.

Check out the gear list.

Required Legal Form:
This course requires the participant to read and sign a liability release form before participating. Please see "Required Legal Form" for the session you are registering for. You will need to print, sign and bring the form to your class.

Hike and Paddle- Des Plaines River Information

Outdoor School Cancellation Policy



  • Class Details
  • Gear List

Hike and Paddle- Des Plaines River Gear List

Gear to bring to class:


  • Lunch & Snacks
  • Lip Balm/Protection
  • 2 Liters of Water - At least 2 Nalgene sized water bottles or a large Camelback style reservoir
  • Hat/ Sun protection - An item to help protect your face and neck from sunburn.
  • Sun Protection - Lip balm, sunscreen, wide-brim hats, etc.
  • Sunglasses
  • Water Shoes/Sandals - Foot attire that will protect your feet and is okay to get wet. (e.g. Teva, Chaco, Keen (not flip-flops)


  • Personal Camera
  • Eyewear Retainer - A strap to help keep your glasses or sunglasses from falling off in the event of big splash or a capsize.

Gear provided by REI:

  • Paddle
  • Touring/Recreational Kayak
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Spray Skirt
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)