NOTE: Currently the cited put in and take out locations are being claimed by local land owners as "private property" despite being road easements (thus within the auspices of Illinois Department of Transportation). Until further notice, please review the map and find alternate put in and take out locations.
The gauge for Bear Creek is located right at the put-in at the bridge on County Road 900 E. The drainage area at the gauge is 349 square miles, so it doesn't take much rain to the north and east to bring the water up. Between 0.2" and 0.5" of rainfall north of Marcelline, Illinois is usually sufficient to make this a class II run (between 800-1200 CFS).
Water levels drop rapidly once the tributaries stop getting runoff, so check the gauge frequently. The creek can rise to maximum runable levels in as little as 12 hours and drop just as quickly.
Bear creek is a floatable class I even at low levels (lower than 50 cfs), though the riffles will have you out of your boat more than in it.
The rapids start shaping up around 500 cfs, with ideal levels between 800-1200. Higher water (in excess of 2500 cfs) is boatable, but there is usually so much debris that it becomes very hazardous and the water quality is poor.
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.
bear creek topo -co rd 900 E to Hwy 96 Bridge
Byron @ Tres Pas Rapid @ 1200 CFS (320)
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