While the large number of impassible log-jams make this creek too dangerous to attempt during the high and fast waters of spring and early summer, Silver Creek has long intrigued my buddy and I as a potential fall and winter paddling spot.
On November 17 2013, we put in at the Mascoutah Reservoir at 2:40pm. The current was quick enough to be a factor but slow enough to allow us to make redirects when impassible logjams were encountered.
We traveled 3 miles down stream and were forced to portage 3 times. One portage actually involved dragging the kayaks past a short stretch of the creek that contained 3 logjams.
On the initial trip, we elected to portage up and along the bank. On future visits, we think we'd probably attempt to haul our kayaks directly over the logjams with ropes. This would probably be the quicker, albeit wetter option.
This trip took at least 4 hours and involved an arduous and illegal 3/4 mile portage through the Silver Creek Preserve. We were able to to do this because the Preserve was closed for the day (dawn to dusk hours). We then walked back to the Mascoutah Reservoir (about 3 miles) grabbed the jeep and returned for our kayaks (which were stashed in tall grass alongside the road.
Quite an adventure! I do not recommend you attempt this particular approach. Better to take a full day and pull out when you reach the Jefferson Road Bridge (see map). We have no idea how many more logjams you would encounter below the Silver Creek Preserve.
The creek did seem to be clearing a bit, but the water was also getting more shallow. Per the map, the creek seems to continue its corkscrew twists and turns through this section.
The floating itself is easy. Its the portages that present the real challenge. This was not a trip for the faint of heart. We undertook the challenge because we wanted to explore.
If we ever had the time and man-power, we'd like to attempt to clear the logjams with chainsaws, block and tackle etc... If the portion of Silver Creek from Mascoutah to the Kaskaskia were ever cleared of logjams, a 22 mile stretch of beautiful and mostly secluded paddling would be available year-round.
This 22-mile trip would be a real jewel to the area. One could put in in Mascoutah and pull out in New Athens in a single day. If the area were clear of logjams, this stretch could be attempted year-round (though the current is very quick in the spring and should not be undertaken without significant quick-water experience. There simply wouldn't be time for mistakes if the current were going full speed).
Here's a link to a map I've created on google maps:
I've used their mileage tool to calculate distances.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Advanced
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)