Paddle Chicago: Lake Michigan Sunrise

Labor Day weekend was full of crazy weather in Chicago – bright and sunny one minute and torrential downpours the next!  I was incessantly checking the radar and forecast all weekend for tiny windows of perfect SUP weather.  A sunrise paddle on Lake Michigan has been on my wish list for a while, so I planned a sunrise paddle for Sunday morning when the weather looked most favorable.   

Lake Michigan Sunrise Paddle in Chicago

Lake Michigan Sunrise Paddle in Chicago

My sunrise paddle called for an early wake-up call in order to catch the 6:15 am sunrise.  Since I was bringing my own paddle board, I had to factor in time for packing, travel to the launch spot and set up.  I planned on paddling from Ohio Street Beach to North Avenue Beach since the forecast called for winds from the south – which was perfect for a northbound paddle.  Ohio Street beach is technically not one of the approved launch locations on the Lake Michigan Water Trail, but I confirmed there was no organized sunrise paddle on Sunday, and as you might imagine, there’s not much activity on the beach at 5:45 in the morning!  I quickly set up my board, secured my backpack to the board and launched into the water. 

Sunrise Paddle in Chicago

Sunrise Paddle in Chicago

The views of the sunrise on the water are incredible, not to mention the incredible city views.  The cloudy conditions made for a colorful sky on the horizon and illuminated the city skyline.  The experience is also a great photography opportunity with different light as the city wakes up.  There were very few boats on the water, so it felt like we had the lake all to ourselves!    

If you don't own a paddle board, there are still opportunities for a sunrise paddle with local SUP rental companies.  Chicago SUP has organized sunrise paddles at North Avenue Beach and Chicago Paddle Company at Ohio Street Beach and Osterman Beach.  I highly recommend a sunrise paddle no matter where you are located and sunrises are free - enjoy as many as you can!