Canoed the Nippersink on Aug. 30th, 2010. The Nippersink is one of my favorite streams to canoe in Illinois, in regards to scenery. It is a beautiful prairie stream with a nice mix of open views of the prairie and wooded sections. The water quality appears to be some of the best you can find within a few hours of Chicago. But water levels are a real problem. I would recommend checking the water levels very carefully before venturing out on the Nippersink.
Water levels can be checked here...
The day we canoed the river water levels were supposedly roughly 3.6 feet. But we spent roughly a quarter of the trip dragging the canoe over shallow sections. The bottom is often rocky and can severely scar the bottom of your canoe. They are about a half dozen small rapids or rifles that have substantial rocks and could seriously damage your canoe if not careful. We got a lot of deep scrapes on the bottom of my practically new Old Town Guide 147. When trying to pull the canoe over a few of these rocky rapids we quickly found ourselves moving from water that was less than 6 inches high to water that was up to my waist in a very short distance.
Unfortunately the numerous obstructions, strainers, rocks and shallow sections ruined what would have otherwise been a beautiful trip.
There are excellent launch sites and numerous places along the Nippersink. See the following link for details:
Paddling Illinois - Revised (Fourth Edition) by Mike Svob is an excellent guide to all of Illinois rivers and provides excellent maps of the Nippersink.