In the early 1900s, the Fox River put St. Charles on the map, drawing people near and far to its shores to swim, boat and canoe. More than 100 years later, the river is still the picturesque centerpiece of town, and continues to offer numerous summer recreational possibilities. Renovations to existing public boat launches by the St. Charles Park District also have enhanced the summer boating experience.
“The Fox River is a magnificent and valuable natural resource. We are grateful for the opportunity to be good stewards of it,” said Laura Rudow, superintendent of Parks and Planning, deputy director. “Boating and paddle sports are lifelong activities. Whether it’s on a kayak, motorboat or the new paddlewheel riverboats, cruising the river is something all ages can enjoy.”
The park district makes it easy and convenient to take advantage of the river with many new kayaking lessons, tours and boat rentals.
A new partnership with Rocktown Adventures will provide two new kayaking classes for beginners and experienced kayakers. Participants in both classes will meet at Ferson Creek, and then be bussed north to Taly Park by the river, where the tour will begin. Rocktown will bring the kayaks and life jackets.
Intro to Kayaking provides a 2.5 hour class to learn how to kayak, practice basic paddling strokes, rescue techniques and more. The lesson begins with 30 minutes of safety instruction on land before putting kayaks in the river for a 4-mile leisurely paddle. July classes are from 5:30-8 p.m. July 10, and from 9-11:30 a.m. July 28.
Paddle & Learn, on the other hand, is for intermediate to experienced kayakers who are curious about the native habitats surrounding the river. The one-time event meets from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 17. Rocktown Adventures will lead the tour, but a Park District naturalist will join the group to provide commentary about the natural areas and wildlife on the 4-mile paddle.
The park district also offers Learn to Row classes with instruction by the St. Charles Rowing Club. Classes for July are from 9-11:30 a.m. July 22-24 or July 29-31. For ages 12 and older, participants will learn basic rowing techniques, safety practices and handling of equipment.
Residents who want to enjoy the beauty of the river but are missing a boat should head to Pottawatomie Park to rent a kayak or four-person pedal boat. For $17 per hour, per boat, families, couples and friends can take their time and explore the river from the railroad trestle to the south, to the no wake buoys to the north. The fee includes life jackets. For more information about rentals, visit www.riverviewminigolf.org.
Additionally, there are public boat launches on various sides of town: Mt. St. Mary on the south, Ferson Creek on the north and Boy Scout Island in between.
Ferson Creek now has a new low-profile dock, for a more convenient launch site for kayaks, canoes and rowing sculls. The Park District also built a boat storage rack. Residents pay $10, per 10-feet of boat, per month to store and lock their boats throughout the season.
“The improvements encourage recreation on the river and takes away barriers that made it less accessible and less convenient for residents who enjoy paddle sports,” Rudow said.
Major improvements were made to Boy Scout Island as well. As the only motorboat launch, the parking lot was renovated to accommodate more trucks and trailers by adding 10 more 30-foot spaces, in addition to more regular vehicle spots. The pay hut also has been replaced with a pay box. Annual passes continue to be available at the Pottawatomie Community Center, daily fees paid in cash are accepted onsite.
For more information about public boat launches, call 630-584-1885.
Individuals and families who want to take in the beauty of the river without the work, should step aboard an 1800s replica paddlewheel riverboat. New themes are available from sunset and happy hour tours to nature and children’s cruises, and many more. Public cruises, special events and private charters are available all summer. For a schedule visit, https://www.stcriverboats.com/.