Paddling Illinois’ Nippersink Creek

Outdoorsy-types looking for an exciting day trip near Chicago should consider exploring the waters of Nippersink Creek.

Located in McHenry County, Nippersink Creek is a meandering stream that offers easy paddling, scenic views, and the opportunity to explore Glacial Park Conservation Area — and it’s only a short 80-minute drive from the Chicago Loop, near Richmond, Ill.

Arriving at the Keystone Road Landing, paddlers are treated to a first-class put-in that features great views of the surrounding 3,000-acre Conservation Area. Entering the waters of Nippersink Creek from the Keystone Landing, floaters are treated to a winding and narrow stream that passes by the remnants of the Wisconsin Glacier.

Glacial kames, kettles, and moraines dot the scenic landscape of hills, woods, marshes, and meadows. Paddlers should be sure to enjoy the surrounding landscape by hiking to the top of the 100-foot Camelback Kame.

The 100-foot Camelback Kame — the highpoint of the park — kames, kettles and moraines were left in the area after the Wisconsin Glacier melted.

A Beautiful, Winding Route
In addition to the geography lesson the creek provides, paddlers should be encouraged by the McHenry County Conservation District’s efforts to restore Nippersink Creek to its original winding route. The meandering stream is a favorite with family and beginning canoeists, but the intermediate or advanced paddler is not disappointed by its circuitous path, fun riffles, and secluded feel.

The Keystone Landing to Pioneer Landing covers approximately five miles and is considered to be the most scenic portion of the creek due to the lack of homes and its immediacy within Glacial Park. This section of the creek will take between 2-1/2 to four hours of travel time.

The Pioneer Landing to Lyle C. Thomas Memorial Park covers approximately four miles and takes two hours of travel time passing between farms, pastures and the village of Spring Grove.

The Lyle C. Thomas Memorial Park to Nippersink Canoe Base covers three miles and takes two hours of travel time, passing between the village of Spring Grove, farms and pastures before ending at the Nippersink Canoe Base take-out.

If you’re looking for some additional paddling opportunities in Northern Illinois, pick up a copy of Mike Svob’s Paddling Illinois ($18.95, Trails Books, 800-236-8088, Nearby rivers include the Pecatonica and Sugar rivers. Canoe rental is available at the Chicagoland Canoe Basin (773-777-1498) or TipACanoe Canoe Rental (262-537-3227).

For more information, maps and directions, contact the McHenry County Conservation District, 18410 U. S. HWY 14, Woodstock, IL 60098, 815-338-6223.

For a selection of canoe gear, click here.

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.