Trip OverviewThe Middle Fork of the Vermillion is the only wild and scenic river in the state of Illinois. Due to low water by mid summer, it can be difficult to get on the river while it is floatable. Some recent heavy rains made it possible, however, to experience great water conditions during the first week of June.
The Middle Fork flows through a forested wildlife area for most of its floatable distance and eventually streams through Kickapoo State Park before converging with the Salt Fork of the Vermillion and eventually reaching a confluence with the Wabash River.
Canoeing the Middle Fork centers around the state park where the Kickapoo Landing Canoe Rental is located. They did a car shuttle for us to a point 8 miles up the river and there was plenty of water back to the landing. A 13 mile float is possible in early spring when the water is really up.
The Middle Fork lives up to its reputation as a natural and scenic river. It has a sand and rock bottom which in itself is completely unusual for an Illinois river. Wooded banks line the river and there are frequent high banks of shale formations in the river bends. While only a few feet deep in most places, the water is remarkably clear and it is possible to see the bottom where there are fish aplenty.
The river moves at a leisurely pace and so paddling is definitely necessary. During our 4-5 hour float, we saw lots of wildlife including deer drinking at the river's edge, heron, and freshwater turtles.
All in all, the Middle Fork is a river worth seeing in the spring or early summer. There are some nice lakes in Kickapoo State Park that can also be paddled on a second day of canoeing in the area.
Accommodations:Campground in state park and nearby hotels in Danville. The park itself is beautiful with nice campgrounds and hiking trails.
Fees:Canoe Rental at Kickapoo charges for rental or shuttle and $10 to camp in state park.
Directions:From Chicago take I-57 to I-74. Exit just before Danville at State Park exit. It's just a few miles up the road.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)