Wisconsin and Illinois have partnered with the National Park Service to create the Fabulous Fox River Water Trail! Why "Fabulous" Fox? Easy, to avoid confusion with the other Fox River in Northern Wisconsin. Feisty Fox, Ferocious Fox, it's certainly Favorable, and you'll find the paddling First-Class.
The Fabulous Fox! Water Trail Core Development Team (CDT) has been working since 2015 to establish a water trail encompassing both states to enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, while encouraging protection and sustainable stewardship of the Fox River system. Key CDT members include: National Park Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Kane County, IL, Visit McHenry County, IL, Real Racine, WI, Village of Waterford, WI, Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, Rock River Trail Initiative, and Southeast Fox River Partnership.
The Fabulous Fox! Water Trail designation would never have happened without the financial support of Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission (SEWFRC) to fund the annual Fox River Summits. It is at these Summits where the idea of a national water trail was born and ultimately accomplished over 9 years of partnership with our friends in Illinois.
The Fabulous Fox! Water Trail provides opportunities for many different types of recreation including paddling, swimming, ice skating, camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife observing. Recreationists can paddle the 158 miles of trail through gorgeous landscapes including prairies, forests, farms, and bluffs. The trail also includes three state parks and intersects with many land-based trail systems.
The trail flows across two states, connecting small Midwest towns and the metropolitan regions of Milwaukee and Chicago. Unlike many trails, the Fabulous Fox! Water Trail creates space for residents and tourists alike to enjoy diverse landscapes from prairies, forests and bluffs to villages and cities. Over 70 public locations along the trail provide access to vibrant communities with their own cultural and historical amenities. The trail acts as a conduit for the diverse populations to connect with others and benefits local economies along the river.
Partners along the entire length of the trail support its maintenance and actively work to connect the surrounding communities. Many partners coordinate with landowners to increase access to the trail so everyone can enjoy it. Additionally, there are partner organizations that focus on educating visitors on all topics. From how to paddle safely and fish from a kayak to the history of the region including the impact of Indigenous tribes and architecturally significant buildings, to the environmental impacts on the river and how to be a good steward, anyone can learn more about where they recreate.