Everything you need to know about the Fox River in the Aurora Area of Illinois
Linked by the Fox River, the communities of the Aurora Area are beautiful river country. Here’s a brief guide to where to put in, take out, and enjoy scenic stretches of the gorgeous Fox River. Enjoy more outdoor adventure cycling, running, or taking a leisurely stroll on Fox River Trails. In total, the entire length of the Fox River is just over 200 miles (325km)—in this guide, we’ll focus on the 25 mile run contained within the Aurora Area communities of Aurora, Batavia, Montgomery, North Aurora, Oswego, and Yorkville.
No Kayak? No Problem!
Kayak rentals serving the Aurora Area are available via park districts and private rental businesses. Here’s a rundown.
Howling Wolfe Canoe & Kayak
Seasoned Fox River guide Jake Wolfe launched his new canoe & kayak rental business in 2021, just in time to coincide with increased activity and interest in the river as a travel destination. Rentals are offered in addition to lessons and guided tours of the Fox River. Visit HowlingWolfe.com or call 630.344.9744.
Yak Shack LLC
Jeff Brown is an avid whitewater kayaker, and in addition to running a shuttle and rental service on the lower portion of the Fox River near Yorkville, offers whitewater kayaking classes at the Marge Cline Whitewater Course. Visit YakShackOnline.com to learn more and schedule your kayak rental.
Batavia Park District
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New for 2020, the Batavia Park District offers kayak rentals at the Batavia Riverwalk. Schedule may vary, but as of opening day it is as follows: Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 5-8pm; Tuesday-Thursday: 12-2pm and 5-8pm; and 1-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Stop by downtown Batavia, visit the brand new Boardwalk Shops, and get your first taste of kayaking on this gentle segment above the Batavia Depot Pond.
Want to bike the Fox River Trails?
The Koloni Fox Valley Bike Share program launched in Summer 2020 connects the Aurora Area communities of Aurora, Batavia, and Montgomery, as well as downtown Elgin, encompassing a total of over 40 miles of scenic bike trails along the Fox River.
Top to bottom guide of Fox River segments in the Aurora Area
Batavia to North Aurora 2.5 miles This easy, tree-lined stretch of river offers abundant birdwatching, with a rookery containing dozens of nests, home to egrets and waterfowl, on an island overlooked by Red Oak Nature Center. Stick to the left after you pass the scenic overlook to get an up close view of a dolomite cavern popular with families. The current slows behind the island, allowing you to paddle back up and around to view the rookery. Take out above the North Aurora dam at Riverfront Park. A parking lot is provided behind the Village of North Aurora building as well as a gravel drive where you can load up your car. On the west bank (due south, your right-hand or starboard side), portage is available just beyond the caution buoys. Be careful. This portage option is close enough to the dam that you must exercise extreme caution and is not recommended for inexperienced paddlers.
North Aurora to Aurora 3.5 miles Paddle under bridges and explore plentiful small islands with abundant wildlife, including river otters and waterfowl. Cool Acres, a Fox Valley Park District property, offers riverside relaxation with a fishing pier, sand volleyball court, and playground. Speakers facing the water entertain kayakers on concert nights at RiverEdge Park. Enjoy gastropub fare and artisan roasted coffee or craft beverages at Two Brothers Roundhouse. Enjoy boutique shopping, dining, museums, and events in Aurora Downtown. Note: due to pedestrian bridge construction, the recommended take-out is at Illinois Avenue / Spiers Island beach. The location is about 1/2 mile north of Aurora Downtown.
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Aurora to Oswego 6.5 miles Diverse scenery includes an old trestle bridge. Portage at Montgomery and enjoy a stop at Atrevete Confections, an inspired chocolatier and purveyor of mouthwatering pastries. Due to construction near Hudson Crossing Park, we recommend disembarking just south of Route 34 in downtown Oswego, where you can visit Tap House Oswego or Oswego Brewing Co., as well as an eclectic mix of boutiques and specialty shops. Visit GoOswego.org for trip ideas and listings.
Oswego to Yorkville 6.3 miles The shallow sandbar beach at Hudson Crossing Park allows for an easy put-in, or use the put-in just south of Route 34 — parking is available next to Tap House Grill Oswego. Paddle past wildflower patches and the scenic beauty of Saw Wee Kee Park. Accessible floating take-out is available above Marge Cline Whitewater Course. Enjoy wrap-around views of the Fox River from the patio at Southbank Original Barbecue, grab an ice cream cone at Foxy’s, and find more outstanding dining options at GoYorkville.com.
Whitewater Kayaking on the Fox River
Sport kayakers can practice their skills on the rapids at the Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville, Illinois. The 1,100 foot-long bypass chute was purpose-built to allow paddlers and tubers to continue their Fox River journey without having to portage around the Glen D. Palmer lowhead dam, and also provides one of the only consistent sources for Class I and II rapids in the Midwest. The drop of almost 6 feet between the top and bottom of the chute is perfect for shooting the rapids with speed, while conveniently located eddies let paddlers take a break and practice against distinct segments of the course. Paddlers who prefer to portage will find easy out-and-in access above the whitewater course, including a handicap-accessible kayak and canoe launch dock and a mobile boat cart for walking the length of the course.
We invited a group of travel writers to experience the Marge Cline Whitewater Course under the guidance of The Yak Shack along with the amenities provided by downtown Yorkville restaurants. Read Julie Ap of Open Wide The World’s story about her first time conquering rapids on the Fox River at the EnjoyAurora.com blog.
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Links to more information about the Fox River
Fabulous Fox Water Trail: Trail maps, itineraries, and safety information from a joint coalition of Illinois and Wisconsin stakeholders.
Fox Valley Park District: Host organization of the Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race, an annual paddling competition dating back over 60 years on the Fox River.
National Weather Service, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service: Measurement and forecast of the Fox River stage (height) and flow pressure reported daily.
Kayak seaworthiness: Paddling.com provides a great resource for every level of boater to learn about what it means to be fit for voyage. Take precautions and stay safe on the water with this excellent guide.