Difficulty I-II at this flow (I-II(III) normally)
Length 4.7 Miles
Gauge FERSON CREEK NEAR ST. CHARLES, IL
Flow Range 70 - 600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 day ago 73.6 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 04/02/2019 1:00 am

River Description


Quick Facts:

Location: Northeast IL, about 3.5 miles NW of St.Charles, between Elgin & Aurora.
Shuttle Length: 3.8 miles. (See details in "Directions" Tab.)
Character: Flatwater punctuated by a number of weir/dam drops. Starts in Royal Hawk CC (golf course), enters woods, and threads backyards of estate homes.
Drainage: 52 sq.mi. (at gauge site immediately downstream of take-out).

Put-in is approximately 745' elevation.
Take-out is approximately 710' elevation.
Thus total elevation change is approximately 35'.

General Overview

This reach consists of flatwater punctuated by a number of weir/dam drops. Do not be deceived or discouraged by the low gradient! The drops will definitely get your attention and merit your trip! The early going winds through Royal Hawk Country Club (golf course), before entering heavily wooded area, then threads through backyards of estate homes. Caution: at moderate-to-high flows, some (many) of the weir/dams will become quite 'sticky', and merit scouting and possibly portaging!

Notes:
Shoulders on Bolcum Road (around the put-in as suggested by a user) are virtually non-existent. All property in the vicinity appears to be privately owned. It would seem necessary to get permission to leave a vehicle on some private property to use this location. Alternate put-in access (as listed) further upstream has (at least minimally parkable) shoulders. It adds largely uneventful length to the run, though you may have to deal with additional deadfall and snags in this additional early going.

For early season runs, the listed take-out may not be accessible (due to the park gates still being closed). Alternate take-out is available by continuing 0.2 mile downstream to S.Randall Road. Parking at a church at the top of the hill nearby (Crane Road) has generally not been a problem. This does make for a bit of a hike up, but probably no worse than you normally have at the listed take-out. So, in fact, many folks may prefer this take-out, especially since it is so easy to identify from the river. (At least one group of paddlers has blown by their intended take-out in the park and ended up down to this take-out anyway!)

Richard DeGroat provides:
Unfortunately there is a lot of blowdown, but all in all, a great place for an intermediate paddler (or novice, if with a more experienced paddler) to practice. There are several "drops" which at different levels become interesting. Beginner/novice paddlers should be very cautious due to numerous strainers present. Be prepared to portage!

Google Maps has excellent resolution aerials of this reach. We highly recommend going to the "Map" tab, clicking 'Satellite', double clicking near (not on, but near) the put-in location icon, zooming to the maximum resolution (without losing image), and doing a 'virtual tour' to 'walk' down the reach. (Though it can be a bit difficult following the creek in the wooded portion of the run.)

Two small dams were removed in a project: "The Davoust Dam is a rock dam comprised of boulders which were hand modified so they now allow passage for aquatic organisms during all stream flows. The Creek Bend Forest Preserve Dam was also removed and bank stabilization work completed during this project that ended in the Fall of 2010." Additional info and photos about that project are at Fox River Ecosystem.org.

Rapid Descriptions

Drainage: ~46 sq.mi.

Class - N/A Mile - 0
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Drainage area at our listed put-in is only (approximately) 11 sq.mi. (as calculated via USGS StreamStats Beta software). However, less than a quarter-mile downstream a major tributary (Otter Creek) joins, and the combined drainage area is ~46 square miles.

Constriction/pour-over

Class - II+ Mile - 1.05
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Just after a private footbridge (backyard of a house with swimming pool) there appears to be a constriction/pour-over.

Bolcum Road

Class - N/A Mile - 1.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

First Golf Cart Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 1.48
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Pour-over (possibly removed)

Class - II+ Mile - 1.57
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A weir/pour-over (may have been removed).

Second Golf Cart Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 1.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Private Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 2.46
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Woodgate Road Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 2.76
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Private Bridge

Class - N/A Mile - 3.13
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Minor rubble/dam?

Class - N/A Mile - 3.18
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Babson Lane Bobble

Class - N/A Mile - 3.44
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Possible boulders/boulder-dam?

Minor pourover/dam?

Class - N/A Mile - 3.89
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Zig-Zag Rock Rubble

Class - N/A Mile - 4.24
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Pour-over

Class - II+ Mile - 4.36
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

A weir/pour-over (a low bridge lies just downstream).

Alternate take-out

Class - N/A Mile - 5.03
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

As listed in the description, some groups find it easier to continue to Randall Road. In fact, this is recommended (almost necessry) for early season (late winter / early spring) runs. (Carry out is ~0.2 mile, uphill, and in a cement drainage area along a busy street.)

Comments

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10 years ago

I and a friend from work ran this creek yesterday. I am a experienced paddler from down south, but my buddy had never been before. I hopped in my play boat and put him in my RPM. The creek had many down trees and strainers, but I found it kind of fun. We only had to portage 3 or 4 times with only one major portage. The only dangerous spot was a little after entering the woods, you go through a little class one rapid that is pretty shallow, but surfable, then a little further down you hear some real water and there is a little walk bridge over the top. Stop before the bridge on river left and portage past the bridge around the right side of the pond and drop back into the river where you see easy access. You can go onto the bridge and see why I said to portage. The last drop was really big for what I was expecting (I mean we are in the suburbs). I would love to go to some of these rich people's homes and ask for access to some of the play holes also. Lastly, check the take out at the park, we did not and thought there was a bridge and missed it. We paddled to randall road and had to hitchhike back to the park from there. Overall, I loved it!

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11 years ago

Minimum suggested level is 70 cfs. Max level known run (mostly through the woods) is aprox. 3500 cfs.

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11 years ago

A great resource for this creek and numerous others is Bob Tyler's book "Canoeing adventures in Northern Illinois"

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11 years ago

A good put in is at Bolcum Road in St. Charles. A good take out is at the Leroy Oakes County Park in St. Charles (right after the biggest drop on the creek, about a 5' footer).

Gage Descriptions

The USGS gauge is at Randall Road, at the 'alternate' take-out for this reach, so it is a very accurate indicator of flow in this reach.

The creek is runnable as low as 70 cfs. A great level to run it (if you're an intermediate paddler) is 200 plus.
At 400 cfs, paddlers should be solid intermediates (completely comfortable in class III rapids).
As levels rise above 600 cfs, many bridges in the golf course become difficult-to-impossible to get under and will require portage around. Above 600 cfs, the creek is out of its banks in areas. In the wooded section below the golf course, many meanders have water flowing over them, so you can take some 'short cuts'. At these elevated levels, some (many) of the weir/dams become quite 'sticky' (uniform pour-overs with very significant 'boil') and will merit scouting and possibly portaging! There are known runs as high as 3500 cfs!

Directions Description


Put in is reportedly on Bolcum Road, parking a bit away from the river at a school parking lot.
Take out is usually in Leroy Oakes County Park. However, the park road is typically gated in winter (through March), making a fairly long walk out to a parking area just outside the gate.

For early-season runs, it may be best to continue downstream to Randall Road. Taking out on river-left, you can carry up the cement drainage spillway, to the bikepath, and to a church parking lot (marked as 'Hosanna Church' on the topo maps). Your carry will be about 1050' (0.2 mi.).

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Rob

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1196561 11/19/09 Rob
1197118 01/18/10 Rob Add feature photo to main page.
1197855 06/21/10 Rob Add link to Bing tour.
1203201 03/30/14 Rob Remove dead link; replace with link re: two dam removals
1211701 04/02/19 Rob updated image position
1207364 03/23/17 Rob minor edit
1195348 06/06/09 Rob
1194903 04/01/09 n/a
1195409 06/09/09 Rob