This is a great creek (for this area) with a lot of potential. We have yet to catch it at high flow, but judging from the smooth bedrock bottom and drops, combined with various rock outcroppings and vertical (mini-)canyon walls, this should be an awesome run when the water comes up. At low flow it's mostly just sliding over rocks and can't really be run unless a significant rain event or snow melt occurs. Dropping over the biggest fall at the put in makes for a good time even when it's dry (if you don't mind the hike up just to grunge down that drop).The section outlined here is publicly accessible by car only at the takeout. The entire length of this section is owned and maintained by the IL-DNR as part of the Fall Creek Rest Area just off of state HWY.57. If arriving by Interstate 172, take the Marblehead exit, turn right (south) onto Hwy.57, then immediately left onto Payson Rd which is the first blacktop road on your left. (If you cross a bridge on Hwy.57 you've passed over Fall Creek and gone too far.) Once you turn left (east) onto Payson Rd, you'll travel a short distance before seeing the entrance to Fall Creek Rest Area on your right. Enter and park at the parking lot.
Good news! There are restroom facilities here! However, the park has limited hours and there is no camping.
*NOTE: THERE IS VIDEO SURVEILLANCE HERE!!! We've not had any run-ins about boating here and we hope we never do. They've got a sign specifically prohibiting climbing or rappelling here (which is too bad because it would be a great place to go). We don't want to have a sign put up banning boating also, so mind your P's and Q's please! We don't have many public places like this around here, so we'd like to keep in the DNR's good graces.
Once parked and unloaded, head up a foot path that runs along the river-left bank of the creek. You will reach a wooden overlook from which you can see the last little drop and the opening to Fall Creek Gorge. From this overlook you'll have a choice. Depending on the water levels, you can walk a 'lower trail' through the gorge (in the creekbed) all the way up to the put in, and play at any point you like. This is not recommended at high water as you'll basically be wading at the edge of rapids with a boat over your shoulder. The other (recommended) option is to follow the somewhat maintained 'upper trail' that ascends to the top of the gorge and follows the creek all the way up to the put in. It's not a terribly bad walk, but logs are often strewn accross the path, and some of the path is loose and unstable at the beginning. If you're in shape you should be able to make it no problem. See the map (below in the 'Rapids' descriptions) showing the rough path to take to get to the put in.
If you walk the lower trail, you'll have to depart from the creek for a short distance just past the "100 year old bridge". If you take the upper trail, you'll come out at one side of the 100 year old bridge. Continue past the bridge (do NOT cross the creek on the bridge) and you'll go down a slight hill with stone steps and meet up with the lower trail. Follow this until you see the last and largest waterfall on the creek.
At the put in (20ft upstream of the uppermost falls) there is a steel cable (stretched from tree to tree about 5 feet above the water) indicating that upstream of this point the land is private property. I've not engaged the land owner regarding navigating the stream beyond that point, as it seems a bit moot. I've looked at topo maps and there are some points that may be of minor interest upstream, but nothing which appears to warrant discussion and pursuit, so in short, please respect the private property and keep to the downstream side of the cable.
The creek consists of 3 drops, one at the take out (6-7 foot vertical slide followed by a more horizontal slide and pool at the end), one midway (just underneath the "100 year old bridge", a two-tiered drop with 5 foot total drop from top to bottom) and one at the put in (10ft fall with deep recovery pool at the bottom, eddies on either side).
If water is high enough, you can add a 'bonus' falls. As you approach the put in and can first see the upper falls, you'll notice a VERY small creek coming in to your right (river-left) that you'll cross to get to the upper falls. If you hike upstream on that creek a little ways, there is a (usually dry) 5ft falls with a nice little slide to river left. The water is very shallow here, but if you're creative, you might have some fun with it. Same rules apply here though: about 15-20 yards upstream of this is off limits.
Note: The class rating for this run is based on the fact that the canyon walls make for very limited take out possibilities in some spots and the possibility for undercuts in others. Having seen how high on the banks grass has been matted down and debris piles have been deposited, it is clear that the drainage area is large enough that significant high-water flows are possible. However, time frames after rain events and the exact presence of features and hazards have not been evaluated so if you plan on catching this after a hard rain, bring your "A-game" because it will be a high-speed slalom boogie!
Visual. Water comes up and goes down quickly.
Permits are not required for this reach.
The 'shuttle' for this run is on foot -- walking up a stream-side path. Therefore, the directions on the map below have been defaulted to give you drive time, distance and directions from your 'home' location.
You can use the text-box to enter any starting location to get drive time, distance, and directions to this river/section. It will accept 'city, state', 'street address, city, state', or 'latitude longitude' (in just about any format). Ignore the final bit of the directions, as it will take you to a point where you would have to cross private property to get to the put-in. Instead use directions as indicated in the main-page write-up.
10 foot falls
Fall creek gorge -2 (clearer)
clint over the falls, angle from the water
Mark Over the edge
Mark diving in
Clint dropping over the edge of the falls, low water
clint and mark in front of falls
Corey -Under the water
10ft Fall Creek Drop-Under the water
10ft Fall Creek Drop-Clint over the edge
Fall Creek Topo w/ trail and falls marked
Fall creek drop #2
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