Information on Fishers Ford (Illinois R.)
Location: The playspot is on the Illinois R. south of Siloam Springs.
Follow Hwy 16 West toward Siloam and turn on Hwy 244 West a short
time after you pass Lake Wedington. Follow 244 for a couple of
miles or so and take Cincinati Cr. Rd., a gravel road, to the north.
You can look for the old, white "Nicodemus Church" sign that is
mostly hidden by bushes at this turnoff. The Hwy 244 bridge
over Cincinati Cr., a medium sized creekbed with a gravel bottom,
is just past the turn you need to make, so if you cross it, you've
gone a bit too far. If you reach Hwy 59, you've gone a little over
a mile too far. Follow the gravel road north about a mile, and
you'll come to an intersection. Go straight on what is now
Fishers Ford Rd. The road makes a few bends, but just keep
following it north toward the river. When you come to the
old metal bridge, park on the river left, upstream of the bridge
and be sure to pull off the road. Don't block the little road
leading down to the river by the bridge, since local fishermen
use it to lauch johnboats. Unload and walk down to the river
and put in and paddle down about 100 yards to the ledge. When
you're finished playing, either paddle or walk back up the
streambed to get back to the bridge. Please respect landowners'
rights around this spot, and DON'T TRESPASS on the river banks
at the ledge, which are clearly posted. Ask permission
from the landowner in advance if you want to walk through
the field to reach the playspot. It's a long URL, and it
may change, but you can follow this link to get a
MapBlast map of the area. Zoom out on it to see how to come in
from Fayetteville or other towns.
Topo Quad(s): N/A
Gradient: N/A (just one rapid)
Length: N/A (100 yards to the rapid)
Gauge: The USGS gauge on the Illinois R. at Siloam Springs should
be higher than 3.0 feet - but it always is. If the gauge is
over 5.0 feet, the river is flooding and the water quality
is about as bad as you can imagine. Due to heavy agricultural
runoff, it's best to wait a couple of days after heavy rains
before venturing out into the Illinois R.
Hazards: None. A big pool will catch wayward boaters at all but
the highest levels.
Description: This is the only summertime play spot for Northwest
Arkansas. If you don't go expecting a big rapid, you won't
be disappointed. But it is the only game in town in the dry
summer months, and the water is never to low to have some fun
and get a workout. It's actually a great spot for beginners
to hone their skills and practice rolls, ferries, catching
eddies, surfing, etc. It's about the least threatening
rapid in the state. The wave/hole varies with natural water
flow. At lower levels, a small wave and some decent squirt
lines are the attractions. With more water, a small hole forms
that can be side surfed. With even more water a larger
wave/hole appears and the well defined eddy lines vanish.
At the highest water levels, there is still a wave, but
the rapid is an e-coli mixing vat, due to a large amount
of agricultural waste runoff following heavy rains. Be sure
to carry or paddle back up the streambed to the bridge
when you're finished playing. The local landowners like
their privacy, and have posted the fields around the river.
Some will give you permission to cross the fields if you
ask in advance, but if you don't have permission, they're
probably not going to be happy when they catch you. Please
help promote good relationships with local landowners by
not blocking roads or paths with your vehicle and by
not trespassing on streamside property.
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