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Accessible kayak launch now open at Lake Chaminwood

Kayak launch at lake.
The new kayak launch at Lake Chaminwood. (Photo by John Stecyk)

A new accessible and adaptive kayak and canoe launch at Lake Chaminwood Preserve near Channahon is now open and ready to assist paddlers as they head out onto the water.

The launch is part of a preserve improvement project that included expanded parking and a new entrance, which were completed earlier this summer.

In addition to being accessible, the new launch has adaptive features to assist those with mobility issues as they enter or exit the water.

“By definition, 'accessible’ can be defined as physically within reach; however, it’s the specific additional adaptive features that will make a kayak launch system usable for disabled paddlers,” according to the website for BoardSafe, the company that designed the kayak launch. “The adaptive features are what allow them to get in and out of their vessel independently and safely."

The new kayak and canoe launch includes:

  • A gangway that allows an adaptive paddler to move a kayak from land to the launch area and back.
  • A chute and launch saddle to create stability while entering or exiting the water.
  • A toe kick that prevents wheelchairs from rolling off the dock into the water.
  • A tiered boarding bench that allows those in wheelchairs to transition to kayak height.
  • A pull-out seat that allows kayakers to slide into their vessels.
  • A roll cage with an overhead grab bar and hand straps for support.
  • Pull bars that allow adaptive kayakers to pull themselves down the chute.

The launch was chosen after researching many options, said Matt Novander, the Forest Preserve's chief landscape architect who oversaw the project. 

"The new launch and dock create an interesting solution to a complex problem," Novander said. "People are unique and they have varying abilities. What one person needs assistance with is another person's strong suit and vice versa. The reason why we selected this launch was because of its holistic design and approach to addressing those variations."

Novander said the Forest Preserve is happy with this new launch and will consider using it again as other District launches are created or improved. The project was partially funded with an $80,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources Boat Access Grant.

"It’s another great example of Forest Preserve staff identifying additional funding sources and securing them to offset local dollars," Novander said. "Obtaining grants helps the Forest Preserve complete more components of projects than would be possible otherwise."

Lake Chaminwood is located on Shepley Road, west of Interstate 55. Preserve hours are 6 a.m. to sunset through October and 8 a.m. to sunset November through March.