Chain O’ Lakes State Park – Fox River Kayak Trip

We decided to camp a mere 14 miles from home last weekend. Funnier still is we’ve not came here to hike or kayak either. Sometimes the best places are right in your backyard!!

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The Chain O’ Lakes State Park, is located in northeast Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties and became a state park in 1945 when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O’Lakes Conservation Area, and was incorporated into the state park in 1957.

The Chain O’Lakes is located in northeast Illinois and is made up of 15 lakes joined by the Fox River and man-made channels. The collection of lakes is 7,100 acres (29 km2) of water, 488 miles (785 km) of shoreline and 45 miles (72 km) of river. “The Chain is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States…” states the Fox Waterway Agency.

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Fox River

The Chain O’Lakes were formed when the Wisconsin glacier melted. The land of Chain O’Lakes State Park is primarily freshwater bog over deep peat layers. No worries drowning here… just stand up!! The river bluff slopes softly to the moraines that rise about 200 feet. Chain O’Lakes has a mixture of oak and hickory near the waterway, then going inland; cherry, elm, birch, sumac and spruce, plus some scattered pine stands.

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If you zoom into this photo, you may be able to see the swallow type birds (maybe a purple martin?) that were catching fish and dragonflies.

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Time to relax, crack a beer…

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Sloooowly creeping up on the  American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). I didn’t want to damage any of the two foot wide lily pads. I was using my hands to paddle up to it.

The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian, Miami, Mascouten and Potawatomi tribes, then during the 1880’s, Europeans started settling in. Later, in 1901, the train came to the area from Chicago, which opened up the area to tourism. Historically, Grass Lake was once almost entirely covered with American lotus each summer, which brought in boatloads of tourists.The area is also legendary for its hosting of 1920’s prohibition gangsters, including the infamous Al Capone, who owned a cottage on Bluff Lake near Antioch.

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There was a very large stand of them.

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Nymphaea odorata  ~ Fragrant Water Lily

I wish I had known they were smelly, I would have stuck my nose in it!!

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We weren’t sure what type of insect this was, possibly a robber fly?

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If you squint really hard there is a kildeer bird and a sand piper in there. Gesh, maybe I could use a real camera with a zoom lens…

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Two hundred acres of restored native prairie provide nesting habitat for grassland bird species. A check-list of the nearly 200 birds that have been identified in the park is available at the park office. Other wildlife that call the Chain home: white-tailed deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, foxes, badgers, beaver, coyotes and groundhogs.

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We finally got to a great little bar that had wonderful, refreshing margaritas!! AND a Clean potty =-)

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Chimney swifts build their mud nests under route 173.

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Pretty dragonfly.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

28 thoughts on “Chain O’ Lakes State Park – Fox River Kayak Trip

  1. Oh that’s sure a place for a beer and a book… I love water lilys and I wish I had a pond in my back yard, but if you want a pondyou have to accept
    the “sideffects” too, right? Like mosquitos, bugs, worms and water fleas :o(

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  2. All this is on your back doorstep, virtually? Lucky you! 🙂
    Lovely photos, nice and tranquil. There is just something about mucking around in a canoe! – And beer and margaritas as well. Cheers! 🙂

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  3. I learned how to water ski on the Chain O’Lakes. I remember well how shallow the water is. Even while in 2 feet of water, I refused to stand up having a fear of sinking into the muck. Fun times. Thanks for the share 🙂

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    • At the very least, have good, well-strapped-on shoes on as the muck WILL claim them otherwise!
      It’s sad I took so long to come out here and explore. I guess I assumed it was a ‘party-time’ (blarney island) and couldn’t have quality stuff going on…. Boy o boy was I wrong!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ah! That could totally be it. I only had to take a basic course in entomology.. Enough for me to know when the ‘vulnerable’ time was to attack anything eating my flowers and ID the type of damage to the correct attacker. Ironically, I know less about good insects than bad. Well, except for how to not kill them while killing the ones you want to kill.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice “travel log” here. Looks to be a marvelous area to see birds and other wildlife. Get that camera with a zoom. You’ll be happy that you did. The pic of the white heron or egret is very good. Its prop is what sets the pic off plus the pose.

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  5. Pingback: Fox River Kayaking 8-21-2015 | Midwestern Plants

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