Illinois River near Tahlequah, Ok

Illinois Freeze Trip

Date: January 18th, 19th, 20th, 2014 Sponsor: DDRC
River: Illinois, NE Oklahoma Trip Leader: Tom Taylor
Reach: Chewy Bridge to Sparrow Hawk Campground Phone: 214-335-5058
Difficulty: Class I * (See scale below) E-mail:
Rendezvous: 8am on the 17th at Sparrow Hawk campground

Required Skills: Basic flat-water paddling with Class 1 rapids. If the river gets up to 800CFS it may be a little difficult for beginners.

Campground: We will announce a backup plan based on river conditions

Confirmation Deadline: January 11th



Trip Description:
This section of the Illinois River is clear water, gravel bottom, and very scenic. Plan on meeting at 8:00am at Sparrow Hawk Campground on January 17th and we will run our shuttle to Chewy Bridge from Sparrow Hawk at 9:00 and get on the water by 11am. Tom can be reached at 469-801-0547 for questions or if you are running late. This trip will go on rain or shine – but anything over 800 CFS is too high for the Illinois River so we will cancel the trip.

Please check the DDRC WEB page and DDRC Meetup for cancellation due to high water or heavy rain. After all it is winter time. Contact Tom Taylor for questions or if you would like to come 469-801-0547.

Gear requirements:
Any boat with the capacity to carry you and all your camping gear down river, meals for three days and about a gallon of water per person per day. PFD, spare PFD, paddles and spare paddle, whistle and throw bag

This is cold weather camping – please bring warm water-resistant clothing. Avoid cotton clothing such as blue jeans.

Bring all your own meals, utensils, plate, cup, etc. Plan for two breakfasts, 3 lunches, and two dinners on the river. We PLEASE - NO GLASS OR FOAM POLYSTYRENE STYROFOAM CONTAINERS!

Back-up Plans:
We will either cancel or change to the trip to another river due to foul weather or high water.

Driving Directions: 

This reach of the Illinois River is located in Cherokee County on SH 10 just northeast of Tahlequah.

From Dallas

·        From Dallas, follow US 75N to McAlester

·        Follow US 69N to OK 165E (south of Muskogee)

·        Turn EAST (right) onto US 62E / OK 10N (east of Muskogee), go through Tahlequah

·        Turn RIGHT on US 62E / OK 10N, and then drive out of Tahlequah to the SH 10 split

·        Turn LEFT where OK 10N splits from US 612E

·        Go approximately 4 miles, and the road to Sparrow Hawk Camp will be on the right side of the highway.


Illinois River map

* International Scale of River Difficulty

Class I: Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight, self-rescue is easy.

Class II: Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims.

Class IV: Advanced. Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require "must" moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting is necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended.

Class V: Expert. Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to above average endangerment. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is mandatory but often difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential for survival.

Class VI: Extreme. One grade more difficult than Class V. These runs often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. This class does not represent drops thought to be unrunnable, but may include rapids which are only occasionally run.


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Last updated December 12, 2014 9:14 AM