The Best Kayaking in Illinois

Looking for the best kayaking in Illinois? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around Illinois. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top kayaking spots in and near Illinois

  • Lemont, Illinois

    Kayak the Des Plaines River

    Not the easiest to get in or out of the river at this location, but it works, at least for a kayak. Look out for people using the Centennial trail, and those fishing nearby. Be careful and if you are able, wear good shoes or sandals (not flip flops) with some tread as it can get muddy. Nearby thi...
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  • Galesburg, Illinois

    Camp at Lake Storey's Allison Campground

    Allison campground at Lake Storey is a beautiful and popular area for campers of all skill levels. It provides easy access to the lake and to launch your boats if you wish to go fishing. There are plenty of places to set up camp. The campground is RV accessible with a significant amount of space ...
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  • Gorham, Illinois

    Explore Kindcaid Lake Spillway

    One of Illinois' best kept secrets, the Kincaid Lake Spillway is a awesome swimming hole just outside of Murphysboro. The three level cascade makes for a great place to spend a hot summer day. People sit, splash, or even slide down the tiers into the pools below.  There is a small side trail that...
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  • Eddyville, Illinois

    Paddle Lusk Creek Wilderness

    For a full day on Lusk Creek, put in at Iron Bridge and paddle 7.1 miles of Shawnee National Forest beauty. This 8 hour excursion is sure to delight the senses as you pass through some of the most pristine areas in Illinois. Lusk Creek is a remote, pristine stream that provides some of the best c...
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  • Simpson, Illinois

    Paddle Millstone Lake

    Enjoy the seclusion of this 118-acre lake. After a few miles of unimproved rough road, you will arrive at the spill way of Millstone Lake. The remoteness alone is worth the trip. Kayak, Canoe, or SUP the lake and even extend it up a couple of miles into Bay Creek. Fishing is also enjoyed on the l...
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  • Golconda, Illinois

    Paddle or Swim at Lake Glendale Recreation Area

    Hike, swim, paddle, fish, bike, or picnic is a amazing medium size lake in the heart of the Shawnee. Surrounded by trees, bluffs, creeks, and trails in all directions paired with its central location many attractions in Southern Illinois, Lake Glendale is a great spot to spend a day or a week. Fr...
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  • Golconda, Illinois

    Camp at Oak Point Campground

    Oak Point Campground is located in the Lake Glendale Recreation Area, there are 34 full hook up sites and 25 primitive tent camping sites. Group camping is also available at the Duck Bay Shelter and the Goose Bay Shelter. All sites are first come first serve and does get crowded on Summer weekend...
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  • Junction, Illinois

    Paddle or Swim at Pounds Hollow Recreation Area

    This 25 acre lake within the Shawnee National Forest was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. There are several large picnic areas and shelters available along with a sand beach and swimming area.  The hollow is surrounded by sandstone bluffs and sharp cliffs and provides an excellent day pa...
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  • Cypress, Illinois

    Hike the Egret Slough Trail

    0.5 mi / 12 ft gain
    For a great introduction to the Cache River Basin of Southern Illinois make your way to the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center. Here you will find a spur trail to the Tunnel Hill Bicycle Trail, information and exhibits, and ranger information about area trails and paddle put in's. Just outsid...
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  • Warrenville, Illinois

    Hike Herrick Lake Trail

    4.0
    8 mi
    This is an easy trail for beginners, with a packed gravel clearly-marked trail shared  by walkers, runners, bicyclists, and even horses (the trail is next to Denada Equestrian Center).  Gently sloping trails lead through prairie land, next to small ponds filled with singing frogs, some wooded are...
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  • Murphysboro, Illinois

    Paddle at Lake Murphysboro State Park

    Beautiful rolling hills and woods surround Lake Murphysboro and provide opportunities for boating, fishing, picnicking, camping and hiking. Paddling is a perfect past time here. Canoe, Kayak, and Paddle Boards are all allowed much of the year. If fishing is on the agenda, a 10 hp maximum outboard...
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  • Belknap, Illinois

    Paddle Mermet Lake

    Mermet Lake Conservation is an old Cypress and Tupelo Swamp that has been turned into a shallow lake by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It was developed in 1949 as a waterfowl hunting destination. Each October the lake is closed and only accessible by hunters, but the Spring and Sum...
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  • Makanda, Illinois

    Camp at Little Grassy Lake Campground

    Located within Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and along one of the most scenic lakes within the Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois Little Grassy Lake Campground is a awesome place to camp for a night or a whole week. There are 14 full hook up campsites. 54 sites have water and electric acc...
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