Difficulty II
Length Miles
Flow Range 100 - 700 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 hours ago 41.2 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 1:08 am

River Description

Quick Facts:

Location: Oswego, IL (just south of Aurora, IL).
Shuttle Length: 1.2 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: A few fine ledges in a small stream in an urban setting.

Put-in is approximately 631' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 617' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 14'.

General Overview

The Waubonsie is a small creek in Oswego which (with adequate water) comes up to a class II-III run. Above Hwy.25 there are several distinct drops or rapids. Below Hwy.25, especially at moderate-to-high flows, the gradient picks up and the final quarter-mile or so is almost continuous action.

We have conflicting information about the access points and length of the run.

Some info has suggested the run starts in Stone Gate Park (on Hwy.25, just east of Hwy.34) and runs out to the Fox River, but that would only be a quarter-mile, and (from 'aerial reconnaissance' via Google) would seem to miss what appear to be the best drops (upstream of Hwy.25).

Our listed put-in coordinates give a length of 1.25 miles, and appear to include the best of the apparent drops. However, we are unaware of the parking and put-in options at or near that location.

Anyone familiar with this run is encouraged to assist your fellow boaters by providing more information.

Craig Carlson provides (2006-10-22):

The third of the 4 drops in Stone gate, when the water is up, develops a nice little hole with good eddies on ether side. The fourth drop should be scouted before running. Depending on the water level, there may be several large rocks just under the surface and the chance of logs or large branches that tend to gather throughout the drop. Below the last drop, the creek makes a slight right turn with some riffles and a couple small holes, then leads under the Hwy. 25 bridge where for a couple years was a large strainer before the park service cleaned it out, but still should be checked out.

After Hwy. 25 the creek makes a slight left turn and into a small canyon with small ledge drops and waves. In the middle of the canyon, when the creek makes a slight right turn, there are a couple of ledges that stick out of the left wall at head height. Just past the railroad bridge is a low bridge and when the water is up you‘ll only have about 3 feet clearance.

For what it's worth, there are a few areas of potential interest further upstream. Notably, a spillway/dam may offer some 'park-and-play' potential at moderate flows. (See map and 'Rapids' tab for location and description.)

Additional information about the watershed may be found at the IL USDA website.

Rapid Descriptions

Waubonsee Lake Park Dam

Class - II Mile - -6.18
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A neighborhood park (greenspace and a kids play area) provides convenient access to the river at this location. (Though we are unsure of how well boaters may be received here. You will be virtually in the back yard of some fine homes.) The spillway/dam for the lake appears to be capable of creating some interesting waves. We have no specific reports of anyone who has tried boating ths location, so we cannot provide details on whether this 'promise' is fulfilled or futile.

Anyone with information regarding legality or possible access issues, and actual playability and recommended levels) is welcomed to help out your fellow boaters by using the "Comments" tab.

Possible Access?

Class - N/A Mile - -1
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If parking and put-in access is possible at this location, you get a series of weir/dams in the golf course, as well as numerous bridges which may present a hazard to navigation (especially at higher flows).


Class - II Mile - 0.05
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Class - II Mile - 0.17
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Class - II Mile - 0.53
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Class - II Mile - 0.58
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Class - II Mile - 0.63
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Class - II Mile - 0.68
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Low Bridge

Class - Mile - 0.91

At best boatable flows, this bridge will have little (or no) clearance. (With the Mll Creek gauge at 320 cfs the time I've paddled it there was NOT sufficient clearance to comfortably pass under this bridge.) Make certain to scout before putting on (at higher flows), so you'll be aware of conditions here and have your strategy planned. Eddies exist above the bridge (on either side) but current is strong and it will take agressive paddling to be sure to catch them if you need to.


Confluence with the Fox River is just a short distance downstream. There is a park with good parking and convenient low banks (or submerged flooded banks!) for your take-out.


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Bob M
3 years ago

Paddled this yesterday (5/11/15) at about 100cfs... 4 distinct features above madison bridge. Second had a log covering the entire river (though was just deep enough to paddle over without slowing down much), 4th drop had a root ball in the middle, and one member of our group got pinned running a line far right (running left was bumpy but otherwise good) ...downstream of the madison bridge had some nice continuous class II waves with a few micro eddies to catch ...not much in the way of any sort of play at this level. Was deep enough to not scrape your boat, but sometimes your paddle would hit bottom. The last road bridge didn't require too much effort to duck.

Gage Descriptions


This is a small watershed (29.6 square miles), so it will be runnable only during spring snow-melt or after heavy rains. Water levels will rise quickly (within hours of the start of a good rain) and fall almost as quickly, sometimes within hours of the end of the rain, though it can sometimes run a day or two.

To attempt some estimate of runnability, we have 'pegged' it to the USGS gauge on Mill Creek, which lies 14 miles North and West, and is nearly the same size as Waubonsie (27.6 sq.mi. at it's gauge). Therefore, flows in Waubonsie may be expected to be very similar to the cited gauge. As with any 'reference gauge' (a gauge on a different river than the whitewater is on), correlation is not assured, but should be reasonably predictive. Localized storms may hit one watershed heavier than the other, so there will be times the gauge suggests 'runnable' when the reach will be found too low or too high, and times when the gauge says too low or high, but it is running sweet.

If you have run this reach, and can provide better correlation data on runnable levels (or other indicators or on-site means of gauging runnability), please do so via the "Add a Comment" button, which should appear on the bottom of the main page description for all registered, logged-in users of this website.

'Minimum' and 'maximum' are very broad and tentative, subject to revision based upon knowledgeable user input.
'Recommended Minimum' is generally Extreme Low Flow ('ELF') levels, that is, the minimum level one could find anything resembling a whitewater run. Certainly, the majority of the river may be floatable well below the 'minimum' as set here, but it would not generally be considered a whitewater run. While 'pools' may be paddleable, rapids are likely to be either scrapey or impassable. Experienced boaters will set their own 'minimum' based upon how tolerant they are of scraping down rock and how desperate they are to paddle.
The 'recommended maximum' is only set as an indicator of levels 'above the norm'. The river is runnable much higher, and, in fact, many experienced boaters will prefer levels above this value, indeed often using it as almost their 'minimum'!

Gauge/flow analysis (based on USGS data, 1998.05.27-2008.09.12)
Minimum daily mean flow (2005.09.12): 0.0 cfs
90% of time flow exceeds: 0.97 cfs
10% of time flow exceeds: 40 cfs
Maximum daily mean flow (1999.04.23): 754 cfs
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 41.2 (under 3 is quite steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')
Based upon USGS historical data and the listed min/max levels, expect this reach to be runnable 12 days per year (on average).
Note: A new 'maximum' was hit 2008.09.14, but data exceeds present rating tables, so we have no 'mean daily flow' value at present. Table above lists prior maximum daily flow.

Directions Description

Best options for parking and put-in are unknown to us at this time. Anyone who can provide details is encouraged to do so.

From GoogleMaps aerial shots, it appears there are some additional features in various locations upstream of the listed put-in. Alternate accesses (above Golf Course) may or may not be viable, and (for that matter) may or may not offer any worthwhile additional interest. Specifically, it is likely that golf course bridges (perhaps as many as eight of them?) and other bridges and obstructions may be impassibly low (at best boatable flows).

41.7013, -88.3271 -- Pearces Ford -- 2.7 miles (parking at a tennis court?)
41.7088, -88.3177 -- Douglas Road -- 3.45 miles (good access from a park/parking lot off Saugatuck Rd)
41.7374, -88.2607 -- Fox Valley Drive - 7.35 miles; Dam (could be interesting or impossible?) Waubonsie Lake Park
                              above this point, you encounter Fox Valley Mall a big pond, and underground.

No Accident Reports







Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1195578 06/27/09 Rob
1208811 01/28/18 Rob minor edit (gauge analysis)
1211714 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1194381 04/01/09 n/a n/a