Bailey Creek - N2300 Rd to Vermilion River (0.5-1.5 miles)

Bailey Creek, Illinois, US


N2300 Rd to Vermilion River (0.5-1.5 miles) (Bailey Falls)

Usual Difficulty I-II(IV) (varies with level)
Length 1.15 Miles
Avg. Gradient 60 fpm
Max Gradient 70 fpm

Running Bailey Falls

Running Bailey Falls
Photo of uncertain by John Meredith taken 03/29/07

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-05555300 8.50 - 12.00 ft I-II(IV) 01h51m ~ 7.08 ft (too low)
Probably too low. (Requires on-site confirmation.) Reference gauge is for Vermilion, and is only an indicator of possible runnability.

River Description

Quick Facts:

Location: 2 miles SouthEast from Oglesby, or 5 miles SouthEast from LaSalle.
Shuttle Length: usually carry-up, 2/3 of a mile. (See details in description below.)
Character: A steep (not quite vertical) waterfall, and runout.

Put-in is approximately 539' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 469' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 70'.

General Overview

Bailey Creek is a tributary of the Vermilion. While it can be done on its own (using the put-in listed on this description name), the section above the falls is nothing but strainers with knee deep mud portages (I know from experience.) Thus, more often it is done as a side-trip while doing the run on the Vermilion.

Click here to see historic photo of Bailey Falls, as it was before it was modified.

Notice: Running Bailey Creek is illegal, as it involves trespassing on private (the cement company) property. While it may be possible to do so without being stopped, authorities have escorted kayakers off the adjacent land and threatened to press trespassing charges.

It's unfortunate that Bailey Creek was not part of the DNR lease arrangement that re-opened the Vermilion River a few years ago. There is no way to run Bailey Creek or Falls without trespassing on Buzzi Unicem property.

Look for the mouth of Bailey Creek on river left, a third of a mile downstream of Wildcat Rapid. The hike up is about two-thirds of a mile on decent trail. The land is on Buzzi Unicem property. From a gravel beach just past the mouth of the creek, go up the hill about seventy-five feet to a dirt road. Turn right (yes, away from the creek) and go another eighty feet to a small path ascending to the left. After 150 yards this path encounters a dirt road. Double back to the left on this, and hike a quarter-mile to a fork in the path. The left fork here leads down to a large culvert in the river (referred to in the river description below), therefore bear right at this fork and continue another quarter-mile to the falls. (Partway along this stretch, a path/road heads off to your right and sharply uphill. You do not want to go that way.)

There is about a hundred yards of whitewater leading up to the falls. Unless the creek is quite high, I wouldn't bother with it, it's just too scrapy.

Bailey Falls drops about twenty feet total, in a horse shoe waterfall. It is not quite vertical, perhaps 70 degrees or so. Before running it, take a good look at the landing zone. It is inches deep at best. Running it means trusting a small roostertail to cushion your impact. DO NOT pencil in on this one. A small, steep trail leads back to the top on river right for anyone wanting to carry up to run it again. Oh, and . . . there is not any easy or convenient way (on river-left, where you'll be) to get to the base of the falls. There are sheer walls surrounding the 'pool'. So, if you have carried your boat up to here and decide not to run the falls, you have to decide if you are comfortable lowering or tossing your gear into the pool below and either attempting to climb down or jump in after it. Otherwise, you will have to hike about 250 yards back downriver before the bluff diminishes enough that you can reach the river from river-left. Unfortunately, this gives you a very brief swift paddle before the serious hazard downstream at the culvert.

From the pool below the falls, there is a few hundred yards of ducking strainers and sweepers before the culvert. An ugly log jam completely blocks any reasonable possibility of running the culvert. No good eddy exists, so you must be very good and very careful to avoid the current pushing you hard and fast into the log jam. Generally this is portaged on river-right. Putting in below the culvert, at some flows there is a nice play hole in its outflow.

Downstream, several hundred yards of easy riffles lead to Pickup Rapid and the confluence with the Vermilion. There is a narrow channel between a river right rock and a rusted, jagged old vehicle laying in the creek bed. Stay as far right as possible, or portage this one, before continuing downstream on the Vermilion.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2015-06-12 21:26:33


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Drainage: ~33 sq.mi.N/A
0.6Bailey FallsIV+Waterfall Photo
0.9CulvertIVPortage Hazard
1.1Pickup TruckIIIHazard

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: ~33 sq.mi. (Class N/A)

Drainage area at our listed put-in is approximately 33 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).

Bailey Falls (Class IV+, Mile 0.6)

Bailey Falls

Bailey Falls
Photo of Dave Bennett by Phil Roxworthy

It's not quite vertical, but pretty big and interesting (potentially intimidating). The landing zone is shallow, so have a good 'boof'.

Culvert (Class IV, Mile 0.9)

Due to being completely blocked by trees, this culvert is a serious hazard. Significant flow leads toward the snags, so utmost care and control are needed to avoid disaster. (The 'class IV' rating is primarily to point out the danger of taking this too lightly. IF the trees were ever removed, this would be nothing more than a swiftwater lead-in and an easy hole to punch coming out of the culvert -- maybe class II.) Portage (usually on the right), then check for how playable the hole formed by the outflow from the culvert is.

Pickup Truck (Class III, Mile 1.1)

This is the last bit of drop before encountering/returning to the Vermilion River. Rocks generally block river-right, and the frame and wheels of an old pickup truck lay in the riverbed to the left. (You DON'T want to mess with that!)

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 11 2015 (745 days ago)
Adding a comment, just to reiterate and emphasize (and make available with a 'warning flag' when
the full-state listing is viewed) . . .
randomly) strongly enforced. Attempts to walk to this falls (from any direction) or boating down
and getting out to scout may result in fines. While you may decide for yourself that it is 'worth
the risk', keep in mind that every time any kayaker/boater is caught ignoring trespass postings, it
reflects on and affects all kayakers/boaters, and is very likely to cause additional stronger
enforcement and additional restrictions, here and elsewhere! Specifically, hiking in to Bailey
Falls *could* undo access to the Vermilion, which was controversial (and hard-fought-for) in the
recent past. Please, don't jeopardize that!
August 29 2007 (3588 days ago)
x (1)
At 14 ft. the landing on Baily falls becomes a nice pillow. The lead up is not too bad as there are
only a few rifts to deal with. If you drive far to the right, you will be able to hit a launching
pad, get some air and land under the veil formed by the cascade coming off the right wall. If you
have a vivid imagination, you can pretend that you are on the launching pad on the final pitch of,
"Skyscraper" as you get launched, and then, "Gorrilla" as you go under the veil. Then you can get
back to reality as you go into Olgelsby and hang out at Mr. Salsa and talk about how Roy barely
missed the old tires, garbage and logs floating around in the bottom re-circ. MM
August 27 2007 (3590 days ago)
BEWARE: Watch out for the "landowner" that lives on river left of Wildcat Rapids!!! He is not a fan
of kayakers and will do anything to try and have you arrested. A paddling group was at wildcat when
one of the party injured their shoulder. About 150 feet below wildcat, a trail goes up the cliff
wall, where the injured partner waited while the rest of us finished the river. We went to go get
him when we encountered one of the "landowners" who have an easement on the Mining Companies land.
We were chewed out for being there and told to get the hell out or be arrested. We had to call
Illinois State Police and an ambulance to retrieve our injured partner. After that, we went to the
put-in to get one of our vehicles when THIS TRUCK PULLS UP. The man inside told us that if we were
seen on that road again we would be arrested. This guy doesn't care about anyone using the river
and will try to get anyone in a kayak arrested for trespassing on the mine's land. Watch out for
him. Happy Paddling. (Original report edited slightly to remove potentially problematic content.)

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