This is "the" playspot for Southern Illinois.
Low Flows (3-6 inches): Class II
Medium Flows (6-12 in): Class II+
High Flows (1 foot and up): Class II+ with arguable class III or IV hole at the bottom.
Little Grassy generally runs from December through Mid-Spring following a good rain event. The water spills over the dam on Little Grassy Lake and flows across 100 yards of bedrock. In that stretch are two holes. The top hole, even at high flows, is relatively mild. The bottom hole has a large undercut boulder situated just downstream. Most of the flow goes river-right of the boulder so there is not much water pushing into the undercut. However, it is something to be aware of.
At medium flows, this hole is at its best. The water covers the undercut and the hole grows wider and steeper. It is still too shallow for vertical moves but it allows for all day spins. At high flows, this hole is river wide and is quite retentive. If you are playing the top hole and are blown downstream, punch the lower hole river-right. If you do not hit this at the correct speed or angle you may be in for a long surf! There are exit points to the left and right, but the trough is deep and it will take some effort to get out. Very few have had the nerve to play this hole intentionally at high flows. There are no eddys below the top hole at high flows. So, if you don't feel like you want to try the bottom hole, don't try the top hole. If you wash out of the top hole in mid-stream, you will have no choice but to try the bottom.
There is a parking area right above the spillway. This area is popular among fisherman and locals. Try to keep a low profile and keep your gear locked. A boat was stolen off of a roof rack last year.
Do not run this spillway! It is illegal. People have been injured and killed here.
Great Beginner surf spot and 360 hole.
Little Grassy is deceptively fast. It looks like the water is moving fast, but it is actually moving even FASTER! From the first wave to the bottom, the streambed is solid bedrock, so there is nothing slowing down the water. At all levels, it is difficult to move from left to right (right is virtually always where you want to end up when you get to the bottom hole) because the water is typically shallow. At high levels, there is water to grab with your paddle, but it is zooming! Just start early!
360 Spins all day in this hole! It gets big and bad at higher levels and easily jumps to a class III or IV. Surfs Up!
Note: The rock seems to have moved after some high water last spring, the hole is still there, but it is not quite as uniform as it had been.
At lower levels walk back upstream along the shore. At higher levels hiking up a hill and through the forest is the only option. It is easiest to hike out on the river right side.
There is a gauge on the south side of the dam that is visible by looking over the edge of the parking lot. The better measure, however, is to look at the creek from the road. If it looks like there is enough water, there is. If it looks menacing, then count on a monster hole at the bottom.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Kenny at Table Rock Hole
Table Rock Hole
Little Grassy Spillway
Little Grassy Creek
Little Grassy Wave
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!