Canoeing the Kickapoo


Oliver shrieked and convulsed and I was sure he was being mauled by a colony of muskrats or the very least a raccoon on meth. Tall weeds thrashed about on the small island where he hopped from his canoe to pick up someone’s lost Crock as part of his Cub Scout “Leave No Trace Award.”

Suddenly he broke through the underbrush relieved but still wild eyed.

“It was just a frog in my shoe. Not a snake,” he panted as he bent over to put his shoes back on.

An hour before, Kickapoo Yacht Club’s Hambone unloaded our canoes and we were off. Paddling is one of our favorite pursuits and the Kickapoo is perfect for family fall trips.

Dressed in layers, I had the two smallest with me and the frog attack survivor with his mom.



“Kickapoo” means one who goes here and there in Algonquin and the river is aptly named.  It seems to double back every fifty yards.  At one point in the 60’s they were going to dam it up and make a lake. This bad idea resulted in a lot of families being forced to sell their farms for pennies on the dollar.  Brown trout kiss the surface as you paddle along eating insects and making gentle swirls.



At the take out, we emptied the trash gathered along the trip.  Though a few beer cans and flip flops were discovered, this is a clean river.  No doubt the Paddler Pickup Program keeps it as such, and I applaud the locals efforts.  IMG_1606

Remote, we had the river to ourselves until a British couple paddled past us.  Otherwise the river was ours to laugh, play, and get out to explore.  Or just goof off.


Float trips are one of the best ways to see a lot of country without the physical exertion that can be too much for a 2 or 5 year old. This makes a primo outdoor event for your family, even if your wife is pregnant and you have a toddler.  Look for rivers with nothing more than a class 2 rapids, if you don’t have any experience paddling rough waters.   Bring a change of dry clothes.

If in the Driftless Area and want to float the Kickapoo, I highly recommend Hambone’s operation over at Kickapoo Yacht Club.

It was a good time.



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