Father And Son Ride Illinois’ I&M Canal from Channahon To Morris

My son and I took off for our second bikepacking adventure this year on Illinois’ I&M Canal.

When: July 15–16, 2016

Bicycle Adventurers: Q-Dog and Dad

Accommodations: Slept at Kayak Morris Campground in Morris, IL.

Distance: 30 total miles round trip over two days.

Bonus tip for this adventure: Didn’t know there were campsites all along the I&M canal, pretty cool.

Day One

It all started on Thursday when I checked the weather for the weekend. I noticed temps were going into the upper 50s overnight and thought, man, it would be nice to camp Friday night. Living in Geneva, IL, I’ve been looking for a reason to get down to the I&M Canal (Illinois & Michigan Canal) and check it out. A quick Google search uncovered Kayak Morris campground in Morris, IL and after making a reservation online, the trip was ready to start. 

Friday after work, I went home, loaded the bikes, grabbed the gear and my son, and off we went for a quick adventure. We arrived at Channahon State Park around 6:00 pm and with 2.5 hours of daylight left and 15 miles to cover, we headed west along the canal. 

The canal trail was fantastic, super flat, and with plenty of mini adventures along the way: We had to cross though some water that was about six inches deep. We got within about six feet of a smallish doe. The doe was looking at us like, “What the heck are you doing here.” We carried our bikes over a downed tree. And lastly, we caught some pretty rare Pokemon, so much for completely unplugging. 

Reaching our campground right at 8: p.m., we checked in and headed to downtown Morris for dinner at Corleone’s Italian Restaurant. A large plate of pasta hit the mark after the ride. 

After dinner, we headed back to the campsite to set up camp. Thankfully, my headlamp and Big Anges tent with mtnGLO lights made this super easy. My son and I got in our bags and quickly drifted off to sleep.

Day Two

I woke up about an hour before my son and walked around the campsite. What an amazing place! I will definitely be coming back, but be warned, there is no running water here, other then the river you are camping on!

Once my son woke up, we broke camp and headed back to Morris for a quick breakfast at Weitz Cafe. It was your typical small town breakfast place and just added to the whole trip experience. 

We were on the trail by 8:00 am and headed back east to our car with 15 miles between us and the half-dozen doughnuts I promised my son if he made it. 

The ride home was very enjoyable. Without the threat of darkness hanging over us, we were able to enjoy the stops along the I&M a lot more. We hung at the I&M’s Aux Sable Access, reading about how the canal opened in 1848. It's pretty amazing the locks are still standing! Also, we marveled at the Aux Sable Creek Aqueduct, my son was impressed that a river was flowing over the top of another river. He couldn’t wrap his head around it. 

After heading out from Aux Sable, we decided to take a “short cut,” that according to Google Maps would shave off about three miles. It did shave three miles but added, what my son named, “The Hill of Death,” a 100-foot climb over about a quarter mile. After we summited “The Hill of Death,” it was a nice ride back to the car with a great downhill.

Round trip from our home was 20 hours and well worth every one of them. My son is so proud of himself, being able to ride a total of 30 miles in two days while camping overnight. I can’t encourage people enough to give a bike overnight a try.

Your favorite local bike shop? I love North Central Cyclery in DeKalb, IL. 

Bike overnight tips and tricks? Loving my Adaptor Coolmax® sleeping bag liner from Sea To Summit. Makes sleeping outside in the summer super comfortable.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

2 responses so far ↓

Tim - Oct 10, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Congratulations! I love riding the I&M Canal and I've introduced it to a number of new bike riders including my children. That will be a lifetime memory for both of you.

slow but steady donkey - Oct 14, 2016 at 1:40 PM

thanks for great story,photos,etc re the fun overnight adventure you y your son shared! how special for you y your son to have such simple joyful fun!......

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