You can find directions to the hike to the Kaskaskia River Lock and Dam at twotanktours.com/StLouisTours.html. Download the Bluff Road tour. The cost is $7. It covers the American Bottom, the great Mississippi River Floodplain in Monroe and Randolph Counties in Illinois. It also includes hikes of the Fults Hilltop Prairie, a rare ecosystem on top of the bluffs, and to Fort Chartres Island and Sidechannel.
The Kaskaskia remained unchanged until the 1960s when the Corps of Engineers built a lock and dam just short of its confluence with the Mississippi and then channelized it clear upstream to Fayetteville, Illinois.
I first became aware of the Kaskaskia wetlands working on a project that took the across the Kaskaskia several times within the course of fifty miles. I saw the results of channelization when I flew over it in 1991. Its channel was/is straight as a string, with oxbows bracketing it like parentheses.
Years ago I made a photograph of an oxbow bend in the river above Fayetteville. An old guy who lived on the river described how the Kaskaskia behaves when the Mississippi is in flood: The flooded Mississippi acts like a dam. Kaskaskia water backs up behind the Mississippi dam. The Mississippi itself backs up into the Kaskaskia. When the Mississippi falls, its like “pulling the plug in a bathtub” the Kaskaskia falls so fast.
Yesterday the Kaskaskia was bank-full. The wetlands at its edge slightly flooded. I startled two Great Blue Herons as I walked through the woods adjacent to the day use area downstream of the dam.
The Corps of Engineers owns the banks of the Kaskaskia, its side channels, and its backwaters. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the land as the Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area, 20,000 acres of wetlands.