Canoeing and Kayaking the Root River
The Root River offers adventure for everyone. First-time and seasoned canoe and kayak enthusiasts will delight in this hidden gem. Depending on the season, the Root River can offer visitors a relaxing meander through parkland and urban settings, or provide a Class II+ challenge to even the most experienced kayakers.
In partnership with the City of Racine Parks, Rec, and Cultural Activities, the Root River Council has coordinated the installation of a canoe and kayak launch in Island Park. Additional public access can be found at Clayton Park, Rooney Boat Launch (south of Racine Yatch Club), and at the Root River Environmental Education Community Center (REC).
Canoe and Kayak rentals are available at the Root River Environmental Education Community Center (REC) and at River Bend Nature Center.
Fishing the Root
The Root River is a major tributary to Lake Michigan. This quiet river boasts world-class trout and salmon fishing, and hosts perch, bass, and pike among others. The WI DNR operates the Root River Steelhead facility in Lincoln Park and provides seasonal fishing updates. During the spawning season, the Root River fills up with avid anglers from around the world, and fishermen find solace and success on the Root River through all four seasons. Whether fishing from the banks, in-stream, on the ice, or in a boat, sportsmen will delight in this quiet urban refuge.
NOTE: The Root River is connected to Lake Michigan, a host-site of VHS. Find out how to protect inland waters from this epidemic.
Birding on the Root
Racine, WI has been recognized as a 'Bird City' by BIRD CITY Wisconsin and associated partners. As part of this prestigious designation, Racine has led efforts to preserve bird habitat, foster educational programs, and remove hazards. The Root River plays a critical role in providing adequate habitat. With its dense riparian foliage and easy access to the shores of Lake Michigan, the Root River serves as a major migration route and year round sanctuary for our feathered neighbors. The Racine Parks Department has designated Colonial Park a 'bird sanctuary'. Take a leisurely stroll along the Root River or capitalize on one of many oportunitties to learn about Wisconsin and migratory birds from the experts at Hoy Audubon!
If you find you need help identifying a winged wonder spotted along the Root River look HERE.
The Root River basin in Racine, former sea-bed of Glacial Lake Chicago, is home to Washington Park Golf Course. Throughout the state of Wisconsin,Washington Park remains the oldest golf course on record within city limits. This nine hole course offers visitors a serene outing with easy access to city-life. The course takes players over the river several times and is accessible from the Root River Pathway.
Walking and Hiking
For over 4 miles, the Root River Pathway winds through urban parkland and several neighborhoods linking a forested bird sanctuary to Racine's downtown. Colonial Park offers a labyrinth of trails traversing hardwood forests, riparian and prairie habitats. A walk further downstream takes visitors through Island Park and Riverside Parks. These parks were designed from 1906-1914 by Jens Jensen, a world-renown Danish-born landscape architect . The 'prairie style' pioneered by Mr. Jensen has been incorporated into modern landscape designs throughout the area.
Up the hill from Riverside Park is Mound Cemetery, originally a Native-American ceremonial and sacred burial site of the Woodland Mound Builders along the shores of Glacial Lake Chicago. Mound Cemetary was deeded to the City of Racine in 1851 to be used as a city cemetary and now hosts many of Racine's fore-families alongside the ancient effigies. Access from the Root River Pathway requires a short walk on Kinzie Avenue.
Continuing downstream is Clayton Park, one of the original 'Cream City Brick' quarries used to build homes throughout Racine and rebuild Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The Chicago & Northwestern Root River Swing Bridge (c1908) crossing the Root River signals a transition from urban parkland to industrial/commerical sector.
Further along the Root River is the Root River Environmental Education Community Center, the original home of Golden Books (Mound Ave. Business Center), the site of the first Case Tractor plant (now CNH headquarters), Azarian Marina, Fifth Street Yatch Club, Riverside Marina, Skipper Buds, Harborlite Yatch Club DP Wigley Company and many other businesses.
The Root River Pathway connects with the Lake Michigan Pathway at the Racine harbor, just beyond the Main Street Bridge.