Finding Health and Wellness

Like so many sites along the 156 mile Chicago River system, the land and waters around the Chicago Portage National Historic Site have been transformed bringing with it human health and wildlife consequences. Vast woods, wetlands, and prairie that once teemed with wildlife are gone with the exception of the 300 acre Chicago Portage site. Portage Creek which once flowed into the Des Plaines River was blocked off completely and the river itself was straightened for commercial use. Trucking depots, the Stephenson Expressway, and industry add air and water pollution to the local community.

Despite the impact of such developments the Des Plaines River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the Chicago Portage site provide opportunities to build health and wellness.

Studies show that natural areas reduce air and water pollution; mitigate the urban heat island effect; reduce sewage and polluted stormwater runoff; build resiliency against the climate crisis; and preserve important habitat, environmental, and cultural sites while also creating places to take a walk, ride a bike, birdwatch, go fishing, or host a family outing. Among other benefits getting outside in nature has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, fear, blood pressure and help children do better in school.

Healthy Activities

  • Explore the historic markers
  • Walk one or both of the trails 
  • Ride your bike and connect to the Salt Creek Trail
  • Bring a picnic and listen to the birds sing