Salt Creek River Trail

Salt Creek River Trail:
Dean Nature Sanctuary to Plank Road Meadow Salt Creek consists of four sections, each offering a distinct paddling experience. The official lower section of the Salt Creek water trail begins with an access site at Oak Brook Park District's Dorothy and Sam Dean Nature Sanctuary. Although shallow in spots, the river winds through beautiful Cook County Forest Preserve District woods and land owned by the Brookfield Zoo before its confluence with the Des Plaines River at Plank Road Meadow. This stretch has low banks and several access points in forest preserves.  Paddlers are advised to take out at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's Plank Road Meadow or before. One half mile downstream of Plank Road Meadow is the site of the former Hofmann Dam, which has been removed, but the debris remains as a potential hazard to paddlers.

Paddle Safely And Have Fun

  • Always wear your life jacket and keep it snug.
  • Dress in layers for the weather, and bring spare clothes in a waterproof bag in case of capsize.
  • Avoid strainers - fallen trees or branches reaching into the water. If you capsize near a log, get on top to avoid entrapment by underwater limbs. Walk around any hazard about which you have a doubt.
  • High water speeds up the current increasing the risk of capsizing, entrapment, and getting chilled. Do not go into fast water unless you are sure you can safely paddle through. Do not paddle rivers in flood or after a heavy rain.
  • Carry a map, keep track of your location, bring a cell phone in a waterproof bag, and in case of emergency call 911 and give the location of the nearest bridge.
  • Learn to control your boat and paddle with people who know the river. Consider taking a paddling clinic or class and/or joining a club.
  • High water is very dangerous. When water reaches close to the top of the banks or over, do not paddle!

Salt Creek River Trail Information

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate depending on water levels & deadfall
Length: 9.25 miles
Directions: Turn east from York Road onto Canterbury Lane and follow the quiet road for approximately 1/3 of a mile to the Dean Nature Sanctuary on the south side of the street. Be advised that Canterbury Lane is a high traffic route for bicyclists.
The Plank Road Meadow Boat Ramp take-out is on river right (on the Des Plaines River) approximately 200 feet south of the river’s confluence with Salt Creek.
Approximately 0.4 mile downstream of the 31st Street Bridge is the Possum Hollow Dam.  This low dam is visible only in low water conditions. Paddle through the canoe chute on the river right side of the dam.
An alternate put-in is at the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s Bemis Woods launch site. This can be accessed from Wolf Road approximately 0.2 miles north of Ogden Avenue. The Bemis Woods parking entrance is on the north side of Ogden Avenue.  Follow the road to the western end of the parking lot near the creek and put in by the foot bridge.
An alternative take-out is at the Brookfield Village Hall Canoe Landing.  This small, minimally improved landing is about 1/3 mile downstream (south) of the Washington Street Bridge on river-left.  Parking is available in the lot behind the Village Hall.
Notes: This trip passes through Cook County Forest Preserves and through the west side of Brookfield Zoo. There is no access to the zoo from the water trail.
Please respect the privacy of landowners—no landing on private property.”

Canoeing/kayaking is intended to challenge and engage the physical, mental and emotional resources of each participant. However, despite careful and proper preparation, instruction, medical advice, conditioning and equipment, there is still a risk of serious injury, including drowning. All hazards and dangers cannot be foreseen. Certain risks include, but are not limited to, dangerous weather and water conditions such as rapids, deep or cold water, above and subsurface rocks and obstacles, hydraulics, strainers and ledges, acts of God, and insect bites. Other risks include capsizing, being pinned between rocks, logs or trees, hypothermia, sunburn, heatstroke, dehydration, inadequate supervision or instruction, horseplay and carelessness, poor canoeing technique or swimming skills, loss of balance, collision with other canoes or stationary objects, paddling the canoe in waters too difficult for the user’s capability, inadequate or defective equipment, and failure to wear a personal floatation device or other safety equipment. In this regard, it is impossible for the Oak Brook Park District to guarantee absolute safety. You will be assuming the risk and legal liability and waiving and releasing  all claims for injuries, damages, or loss in which you might sustain as a result of using the Salt Creek River Trail.