This photo needs editing.
Difficulty none at this flow (I-II normally)
Length 0 Miles
Flow Range 150 - 800 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 1840 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 01/27/2018 9:11 pm

River Description

This park and play feature is (was) located on the Des Plaines River in Wheeling, Illinois. "Bill's Hole" was named afer Bill Kinsella who scouted out the feature and had used it for years.

Access from a Cook County Forest Preserve parking lot at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road. This is about halfway between Willow/Palatine Road (to the south) and Dundee Road (to the north). Both Willow and Dundee road have exits from the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to the east. The feature is accessible and runnable most of the year, though the forest preserve gates are closed at dusk.

Mike Pond reports (2014.04.28):
I paddled the remains of Dam 1. For the most part Bill's Hole is is gone. However a nice pile of rocks sits in the middle of the river. At 500 cfs, two crisp lines spun off the rock pile and an eddy forms behind the rock pile. This offers a great place to introduce beginners to peel outs, flat spins, ferrying, and stern squirts. The depth of the river (for practicing rolls in the eddy pool) was about 4.5 feet with a sandy bottom. BEWARE: rivers change and so does the bottom. Lastly. Cook County Forest Preserve did a nice job; Having the ability to pull right up to the waters edge to load and unload your boat is a nice touch.

Thanks so much, Mike, for those reports!

Dam#2 was three or four miles downriver in Mount Prospect but has also been removed. We have no reports whether any rock/rubble remains here to allow for any whitewater practice or play.

Rapid Descriptions

Riverside: Dam (REMOVED)

Class - I Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This dam has been removed! It appears there may be some riffles and rips through here now. In the past, boaters have been told they may not access the river from anyplace near here. We have no awareness whether this continues to be the case with the dam/hazard removed.

Mt.Prospect: Dam #2 (REMOVED)

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

While is still visible (as of 2015.03.21), we are told this dam has been removed. We have no information whether any riffles remain at this site.

Wheeling: Dam#1 (REMOVED)

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This had been the site of "Bill's Hole" prior to removal. We are told there remains some amount of rock here, allowing for minor play at some flows. In general, this is so very much less of interest as to be a non-entity.


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11 years ago

Hello, Dam 2 is not worth the effort for simple playboating. The CCFP did an excellent job in the construction of a $50,000 canoe launch just below the dam. The access to the river is unsurpassed to the area with a 100 foot sandy launch (50 feet from the parking lot), 8 X10 wooden river map, (with brochures etc), and is very well maintained by the CCFP and local paddlers. This is also the take put point for the Des Plaines River Canoe Marathon. Thanks Ralph for bringing the river to attention of area decision makers, thus clearing the way for paddlers young and old. Hope this helps. M.Pond

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randy hetfield
13 years ago

The following was posted on "Paddle, Party, and Play" by Bill Kinsella with regards to Dam #2 located downstream.

"Dam 2 is not a friendly place to be. There is a hike down to the dam.
Once there it is the classic low head dam with a highly retentive nature.
The space between the first ledge and second is deep and foamy.
If you flip there you are in for a scary time. I have played there a
number of times and the value is very limited especially considering
that Dam 1 is so close by."

Gage Descriptions

Gauge/flow analysis (based on data from 1978-05-17 to 2008-05-16):
Drainage area at gauge: 360 sq.mi.
Minimum mean daily flow during stated period: 32 cfs (1999.09.11)
90% of time during stated period flow exceeds: 73 cfs
10% of time during stated period flow exceeds: 868 cfs
Maximum mean daily flow during stated period: 4,870 cfs (1986.10.01)
10/90 ratio ('flashy-ness'): 11.9 (under 3 is fairly steady, over 10 is quite 'flashy')

Average days per year over recommended 'low' threshold (150 cfs): 235
Average days per year over recommended 'high' threshold (1400 cfs): 16

Directions Description

Shuttle is only from the parking lot to the river and back, or from below the dam back above the dam to run it again (as a break from playing below the dam).

Use the text-box to enter your home or other starting address, then press "Calculate" to get time/distance and driving directions to this location.

No Accident Reports






randy hetfield


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1195579 06/27/09 Rob
1195345 06/06/09 Rob
1203551 07/10/14 Rob Rework for removal of dam.
1208800 01/27/18 Rob minor edit (gauge info)
1204363 03/21/15 Rob edit for dam removals
1194468 09/14/08 randy hetfield n/a