Middle Fork River Kayaking


We came here to camp for the Memorial Day Weekend and take advantage of all the waterways to paddle around in. We used Kickapoo Landing to shuttle us on Saturday for a 13 mile float down and on Sunday for the 8 hour.

The Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is a tributary of the Vermilion River, which flows to the Wabash River in Illinois. The Middle Fork rises in Ford County and flows southeast to join the Vermilion near the town of Danville. In its entirety, the Middle Fork is about 77 miles (124 km) long.

Middle Fork River is Illinois’ first State Scenic River, designated in 1986 by Governor James R. Thompson. In 1989, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan nominated it as a National Scenic River. The Middle Fork is the first river in Illinois to be included in the National Wild Scenic Rivers System. The State Law (Public Act 84-1257) and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act give permanent protection to a 17-mile segment of the river in Vermilion County.

The Middle Fork River has eroded the countryside through glacial deposits, which created sheer valley slopes and tall bluffs. This resulted in sandy cliffs on the riverbanks, which attracts swallows to nest in the safety of the vertical landscape. During a flood, the muscle of the river slices new channels, moves boulders and uproots trees.

There are five canoe access points along the 17 miles of the Middle Fork River. There are additional canoe access areas further upstream also. You can take a short paddle of a few hours, or make a weekend of it and camp overnight in the campgrounds.

The Middle Fork River Valley supports a great diversity of plants and animals including 57 types of fish, 45 different mammals, and 190 kinds of birds. Of this diverse wildlife, there are 24 species officially identified as State threatened or endangered species. Other special qualities of the Middle Fork River valley include unusual geologic formations, various historic sites, and over 8,400 acres of public parks.

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Turkey vultures are almost always overhead looking for squished snacks. They enjoy hanging out in dead trees. A group is called a ‘venue’ or a ‘kettle’, as they resemble bubbles rising in a kettle while riding the thermals in the sky.


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Many communities of swallows were in the bluff sides. They were swooping around us to get all the bugs that were flying around, although gratefully, not mosquitoes! I wonder if all the cottonwood seeds posed any difficulty in them hunting? BTW, a group of swallows is a ‘flight’.





We didn’t see anyone for a while and decided to dock. There were many locations similar to this to dock. I swear it was only seconds after I pulled out our lunch when a large group of loud folks docked right next to us. Gesh, no peace… We left for a quieter nook.

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Fat fingers were a common occurrence while kayak without a waterproof cover on my phone. I wanted to be sure I had a good hold of it and sadly, covered the lens at times. Oppsy!!

However, fast action on my part did save me from loosing my camerone. I did capsize on a rock the first day… It felt like it happened in sllloooow mooootion. First, please don’t be alarmed, 95% of the river is only two feet (.6M) deep. There is no chance of drowning, just stand up! You can loose your equipment tho, my hubby had to grab my runaway paddle.

What happened was I hit a large rock which turned me 90º, I leaned, the water came in and filled it sideways. I stood up and held the water filled kayak  against the rock until my hubby could pull it to shore with me. No biggie, remove plug and drain. Call it a mulligan and paddle on.


That’s me!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

37 thoughts on “Middle Fork River Kayaking

  1. We have quite the Turkey Vulture population and, while their heads are rather disturbing (much blood red coloring and a face that only a mother could love), they are just sooooo graceful as they circle around on the air currents. We go up onto the Niagara Escarpment and can often look down on them as they slowly circle up towards us! A very impressive bird. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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