Difficulty II
Length Miles
Gauge Tomahawk Creek
Flow Range 150 - 600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 hours ago ~ 38.997 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 1:09 am

River Description

Quick Facts:

Location: Northcentral IL, about 5 miles NE of LaSalle.
Shuttle Length: 5.6 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Rural wooded corridor (with a few estate backyards).

Put-in is approximately 598' elevation.
Confluence with Little Vermilion is approximately 528' elevation.
Thus elevation change on Tomahawk is approximately 70' (average gradient, 25 FPM).
Take-out is approximately 450' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 148' (average gradient, 20 FPM).

Google Maps has excellent resolution aerials of this reach. We highly recommend going to the "Map" tab, clicking 'Satellite', double-clicking near (not on, but near) the put-in location icon, zooming to the maximum resolution (without losing image), and doing a 'virtual tour' to 'walk' down the reach.

Ask permission at farm house to put on. Beware low bridge 0.7 miles down, and dam (run at own risk) at 2.3 miles.

Running this creek brings you into mile 1.8 of the Little Vermilion, where you will finish with 4.7 miles of that run, including its 'mini-canyon'.

Richard DeGroat, Sugar Grove provides (2009-04-24):
I've run this many times and each time I do, I have alot of fun. It has a lot to offer for the almost intermediate paddler (II) to the solid intermediate (III), and I presume would be fun for the more advanced at higher water. Check out Bob Tylers description as it is more exhaustive.
There is a dam about a mile before the confluence with the Little V which I just ran this last past week. Extremely fun slide to about a 5 and a half foot boof provides alot of excitement for those prepared and those willing. There is also another fun slide a bit more downstream that can be challenging for a beginner.

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: 36.4 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Drainage area at our listed put-in is ~36.4 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software).

Low Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 0.7
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The text warns of a low bridge, 0.7 miles from the put-in. It appears (from online satellite view) there may also be a couple of other bridges just upstream in this vicinity (or maybe the others are some sort of image anomoly). In any event, be watchful and prepared to deal with this (or these) possible hazards.


Class - N/A Mile - 2.3
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Approach with caution. Scout.

This can be run at some flows.


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9 years ago

A trio of us ran Tomahawk/Lil' Vermillion last weekend at higher water and it was sweet. An absolutely beautiful creek with two cool slides, a few good surfing holes, and lots of boogie water. A lot of strainers and a few holes at the bottom of the slides that could be nasty, id call it class 3. How amazing that the prarie lands of Illinois manage to contain little creeks like this.

Gage Descriptions

Visual. Should be "banksfull" at put-in.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports






Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1211718 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1192421 02/09/09 n/a n/a
1195443 06/11/09 Rob
1200900 12/16/11 Rob Select (add) featured photo.
1211717 04/02/19 Rob updated image position