September 19, 2014

Canoe, kayak fun set for Little Grassy Lake on Oct. 11

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center is sponsoring “Breaking the Surface,” a free community paddling event, on Oct. 11. 

Experienced paddlers and people who have never paddled before are both welcome to participate. The event is open to the public.  However, organizers request those planning to attend register in advance to allow adequate planning. Call 618/453-1121 or email  Walk-ins are welcome that day. 

Check-in is from 1 to 2 p.m. The event will feature paddling instructions for beginners. After a brief welcome, open or guided paddling on Little Grassy Lake will continue until 5 p.m.  A closing circle will follow. The lake is at Touch of Nature, about eight miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road. 

Organizers will provide everything you need to get on the water including canoes, kayaks, paddles and personal floatation devices.  Participants will want to wear water shoes or other footwear they are comfortable getting wet and may bring their own snacks and water bottles. 

Those who have their own canoes or kayaks are welcome to bring them, but the watercraft must have a Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge sticker or day pass. The stickers and day passes will be available to purchase at the event. 

A few extra treats are in store for event participants as well.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be bringing its 20-seat Voyageur canoe. Visitors can see kayaks built by the Student Center’s Craft Shop kayak-building class along with cardboard boats and a canoe that once belonged to the late Lloyd B. Sharp, an outdoor recreation pioneer who served on the SIU faculty and whose efforts helped establish the environmental center. 

From 5:30 to 6 p.m., hot dogs, chips and beverages will be available to purchase and then at 6:30 p.m. there will be a paddler’s social and an interpretative walk celebrating the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Wilderness Act. 

Visit to learn more about this program or other Touch of Nature activities, facilities and services.