Showing 1-96 of 215 items found in Outdoors & Play
Bicentennial Riverfront Park
Bicentennial Riverfront Park is a five-acre community park on the south bank of the Fox River. Bicentennial Riverfront Park makes optimum use of the river, with abundant fishing, plus canoe and kayak access to the white water chute. There is also a beautiful view of the Glenn Palmer Dam as you follow the trail along the river and the picnic area, playground and river-side pavilion are popular community gathering spots in the summertime.
Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area
A pool of clear bubbling water which sparkles like silver on sunny days provides the basis for the name of Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area. Even on extremely cold days, this pool does not freeze, and visitors marvel at the bordering beds of watercress. Majestic oaks and prairie grasslands provide a panorama of natural beauty to park visitors. The Fox River runs through this picturesque area which is also home to several small manmade lakes. A natural prairie restoration project gives visitors a feeling of the original landscape with native wildflowers, songbirds, waterfowl and upland game. Picnicking, fishing and hiking are popular pastimes in summer, with ice fishing, sledding, ice skating and cross-country ski trails available for the winter sports lover. For relaxing, exercising or just enjoying nature, Silver Springs is the perfect get away location.
Rock Island Trail State Park
The Rock Island Trail provides 27 miles for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. One of the premier rails-to-trails facilities in Illinois, this trail is a sure-fire winner for the entire family.
Loyola University Retreat & Ecology Center
Encompassed in 100 acres of lush greenery, Loyola University's Retreat and Ecology Campus provides a serene setting for overnight retreats, meetings, team building, classes, and private/community events. Open year-round, the campus can accommodate groups of 12-200 guests. Facility highlights include one of the largest challenge courses in the state, culinary team building, farm workshops, comfortable housing/meeting spaces, sustainable dining options, a fire pit, basketball/ tennis courts, and hiking trails. Loyola is committed to maintaining the biodiversity of the campus and encourages sustainability, conservation, and restoration efforts.
Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
Nature center with 3 miles of walking/hiking trails through woodland, wetland, and prairie. Exhibit building displays local wildlife. Educational activities year round.
An easy 30-minute drive from downtown Chicago places you squarely in this sprawling forest preserve. With 78 miles of wide and singletrack trails at an intermediate level of difficulty, you should expect the unexpected, starting with plenty of hills, fast descents, meandering paths and more.
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park
The gateway to the largest outdoor playground in southern Illinois includes Rend Lake, the second largest manmade lake in the state. Wheelchair access.
This 500-acre park offers vast formal gardens, picnic grounds, a top-ranked public golf course and two museums: Robert R. McCormick Museum and First Division Museum. Enjoy a wide variety of programs and events throughout the year, such as festivals, lectures, concerts and workshops.
Blackwell Forest Preserve
Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois, has everything an outdoors fanatic could want. Hikers, bicyclers, horseback riders and cross-country skiers can enjoy more than 6 miles of turf and limestone trails, including a convenient route to the Illinois Prairie Path. Trails around the McKee Marsh area feature two observation decks, a bird blind, and signs that describe the history and ecological significance of the marsh.
Lakewood Forest Preserve
Tunnel Hill State Trail
Rolling agricultural fields, reclaimed strip mines, ravines, rocky streams and wooded bluffs dominate the northern half of the Tunnel Hill State Trail. With 47.8 miles (one-way) of crushed gravel surface, extended inclines and dark tunnels, this trail is a difficult one, but one not to pass up, as long as you’re up for the challenge. The southern half of the trail explodes with scenery that includes bottomland woods, ponds, streams and marshes. The trail, which winds through seven towns, even touches upon a handful of ghost towns that faded into the landscape after the trains here stopped running.
Half Day Forest Preserve
This quiet and clean preserve features a 1-mile trail for hikers, bicyclists and cross-country skiers, three beautiful picnic shelters, a 3-acre pond for fishing, open playfields and a playground. The Half Day Forest Preserve is also the starting point for the Des Plains River Trail which links this preserve to the Wright Woods Forest Preserve. The entrance and parking area are located on Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) at the light for Woodlands Parkway, south of Route 60 (Townline Road) and just north of Route 22 (Half Day Road).
Des Plaines River Trail
Located in southeast Lake County near Vernon Hills, this crushed gravel surface trail is perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing. The trail offers a medium level of difficulty as it winds alongside tree-laden riverbanks, through dense bottom-land woods, adjacent to ponds and over footbridges. This trail links the Half Day Forest Preserve to the Wright Woods Forest Preserve spanning nearly the entire length of Lake County.
Matthiessen State Park
Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately four miles south of Utica and three miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing.
Starved Rock Lodge
Full-service Conference Center in Starved Rock State Park. Dining room, bar, veranda, outdoor dining, indoor pool (for Lodge guests). Retreats, meetings, banquets, reunions and all-inclusive dream weddings. The Lodge has 69 rooms and 21 cabin rooms in a rustic, wooded setting.
Starved Rock State Park
Seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs and rugged canyons dominate the storied landscape at Starved Rock. Rich with history and beauty, Starved Rock’s hiking trails meander through towering trees and scenic overlooks along the Illinois River. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing, paddle boat cruises, cross-country skiing, trolley rides, fishing and picnicking. Visitors can stay at the historic Starved Rock Lodge or in one of its cozy cabins.
Matthiessen State Park
Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and more in this state park known for its waterfalls, bluffs and canyons.
Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center
The Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center has several interactive displays, free videos on the park, hiking maps, and more. Trailheads Concessions & Gifts, also located here, is a great place to buy gifts, souvenirs, and snacks (fresh fudge, too)! The Visitor Center and Trailheads are open year-round.
Starved Rock State Park East Hike
Starved Rock State Park has a beautiful East Hike that offers canyons galore, each with slightly different shapes, sizes and colorings. At 6.4 miles of dirt terrain, this hike is moderately difficult. Cool, shady and overgrown with ferns, the canyons offer a plethora of trees and flowering plants—a true delight to explore. You’ll also encounter scenic overlooks 100 feet above the Illinois River. The real crowd pleasers at Starved Rock are the numerous sandstone canyons that were carved deep into the bedrock as upland streams drained into the Illinois River. Some noted canyons of worth to explore are Kaskaskia Canyon, Ottawa Canyon and Hennepin Canyon Overlook.
Starved Rock State Park West Hike
Starved Rock State Park West Hike offers a decidedly different set of attractions than its eastern counterpart. On this hike you’ll encounter a series of overlooks from wooded bluffs and rocky cliffs high above the Illinois River. This 2.9-mile hike varies in difficulty due to the large amount of stairs that need climbing. The dominant feature of Starved Rock can be found on this hike, via a narrow bluff that runs 4-miles along the south branch of the Illinois River. The park’s namesake towers 125 feet above the river, offering commanding views of the nearby islands and river. Some notable excursions include, French Canyon, Wildcat Canyon and Pontiac Canyon with sweeping views of the Illinois River.
Wards Grove Nature Preserve
Wards Grove is the best “mound forest” remaining in the Driftless Area. 335 protected acres of woodlands with populations of sensitive plant and animal species.
Apple River Canyon State Park - Thompson/Salem Units
This 1,150 acre area allows hunting, fishing; no boating/biking. See postings/fact sheets at registration. Sign in/out at lots #1 or #2. The vegetative cover at the site is a mixture of steep timbered slopes and bluffs with grassland, row crops and hay fields predominate on ridge tops. The topography can be severe especially bordering the Apple River.
Great Western Trail
This 17-mile trail replaces the abandoned main line of the Chicago Great Western Railroad. It is a flat easy ride connecting the communities of St. Charles and Sycamore.
Fox River Trail
32 miles of biking, hiking and cross-country skiing featuring some of the most scenic trails of the Fox River. Points of interest include Carpenters Dam, Fox River Shores, Tyler Creek, Voyageur Landing, Shoemaker Nature Center and Fabyan Forest Preserve.
Adams Wildlife Sanctuary
A green oasis located in the center of town, the sanctuary is open for hiking or strolling the one-mile nature trail from sunrise to sunset.
Lost Bridge Trail
This easy to traverse asphalt trail, starting in Sprigfield, winds you through wooded landscapes, over bridges and alongside a well-groomed community park.
Chain O' Lakes State Park
Located in the northeastern corner of Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties, the Chain O'Lakes State Park is 60 miles northwest of Chicago. With nearly 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline on the Chain, Chain O'Lakes State Park is the heart of a water wonderland. And, with six miles of relatively easy hiking and biking trails to navigate the scenery, Chain O’ Lakes State Park has become a treasure to behold.
Sand Ridge Nature Center
Owned and operated by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Sand Ridge Nature Center emphasizes the natural history of the Calumet region.
Central Illinois lake with over 11,000 water acres and 172 miles of shoreline. Lake Shelbyville has 5 federal campgrounds, and 2 state campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites from tent camping up to full hookup. There are several recreational areas with picnic areas and pavilions and 2 wildlife management areas. Three public beaches are available for swimming on the lake. The lake also hosts many launching ramps that are available for boats, and 3 marinas on the lake. Many hiking trails also encompass the lake such as the General Dacey which also includes fitness stations, the Chief Illini trail and others.
General Dacey Trail
This trail is a multi-use recreational trail -- accessed mainly by walkers, runners, and bikers. As you move along the pathways of the Dacey Trail, you will find nature at its best with many scenic views of Lake Shelbyville. A fitness area is between the Dam West Recreational area and the Dam. The trail is being added to and improved each year. You can begin the trail at Forest Park or at the Dam West Recreational Area (9th St.).
Forest Park is a municipal park with the Chautauqua Auditorium, Vietnam Memorial, Family Aquatic Center, picnic areas, pavilions, baseball & softball diamonds, fishing lagoon (Crystal Lake), skateboard park, soccer fields, a youth athletic center, and more. There is an entrance to the General Dacey trail at the back of the park and the Memorial Sunken Gardens have been revitalized. The park is also home to the Festival of Lights.
Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail
The Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail located just south of Rock Falls is where you will pick up this medium to difficult trail. Cyclists, hikers and anglers come to enjoy the stocked waters, the peaceful wooded banks and the abundance of bird life. As the trail heads south toward the rural countryside the path frees itself from the throngs of people allowing you to enjoy the serene environment all to yourself.
Shabbona Lake State Park
Shabbona Lake State Park has 1,550 acres of rolling prairie and features a 318 acre man-made fishing lake. Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area provides a convenient, natural haven from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and winter sports, Shabbona Lake is a convenient and comfortable retreat where you can refresh and reinvigorate yourself in a rare, unspoiled environment.
Mississippi Palisades State Park
The Mississippi Palisades State Park, located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Apple rivers in northwestern Illinois is known for its steep cliffs and interesting rock formations, as well as its beautiful trails that lead you to some of those awe-inspiring giant boulders. One such trail is the Sentinel, clocking at over 1.3 miles it’s the longest trail in the park and leads you smack dab into Sentinel Rock, where you can take a turn at trying to conquer this monolith.
The Nest at Palisades Cabins
The Nest at Palisades Cabins offer secluded luxury cabins designed to provide charm, quiet luxury and romance. We’re located on a wooded acreage high above the Mississippi River minutes from Savanna, the Palisades State Park and an easy 20 minute drive to Galena.
Sentinel & Sunset Trails
The highest pint in Illinois is 1,257 feet located in the northwest corner of the state. That’s where you’ll find Mississippi Palisades State Park and the Sentinel and Sunset Trails. The park has 2,500 acres of wooded ravines and canyons. The Palisades are a line of vertical cliffs that rise up from the shore of Buffalo Lake. Hiking to the top provides tremendous views and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. The two trails are strenuous due to the elevation change, but at approximately 3.7 miles, shouldn’t take too long for you to experience the sense of adventure in nature or burning in your legs.
Round Lake Area Park District
Round Lake Area Park District offers visitors a wide range of activities and facilities to enjoy. They include the Renwood Golf Course, the new sports center, the Prairie Grass Nature Museum, community theatre, outdoor pool/aquatic center, fitness center, child development center, teen center, senior center and acres of picturesque parklands. Private parties/outings at any of the facilities can be accommodated.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a 155-acre living museum filled with spectacular gardens and rare trees. There’s beauty in every season from fragrant magnolia trees in spring and a butterfly garden in summer to the brilliant colors of fall and snow-capped evergreens in winter, when trails are cleared for walkers, cross-country skiers and snowshoeing. A 1.8 mile, handicapped-accessible paved path winds through the arboretum plus many secondary, chipped trails. Kids will have fun navigating the maze in the Children’s Garden. Klehm is dog-friendly and any leashed dog is welcome. Filled with four season beauty, Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is waiting for you to explore.
Great River Trail
The Great River Trail is a breathtaking journey along 60 miles of the Mississippi River. The route is a mixture of paved rail-trail, small-town sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes on the street and a stretch of road shoulder along the Great River Road. The Great River Trail begins in Savanna and travels south through many small river towns with traditions still steeped in the quintessential culture of the Mississippi River.
Black Hawk State Historic Site
Wonderful for families, friends for outdoor recreation. Additionally, the Watch Tower Lodge has hosted thousands of wedding receptions and offers a lovely setting in the beautiful historic park. This wooded, steeply rolling 208-acre tract, borders the Rock River in the city of Rock Island. Prehistoric Indians and 19th-Century settlers made homes here, but the area is most closely identified with the Sauk nation and its great warrior, Black Hawk. Voted one of the "7 Wonders of Illinois," this pristine park offers beautiful trails for hiking and walking only. Picnic areas are also available. While at the park be sure to visit the Watch Tower Lodge that houses a large reception area and the John Hauberg Indian Museum. The museum features Sauk and Meskwaki Native American Indian artifacts and displays depicting the four seasons and life of these tribes. A new exhibit tells the story of the Sauk and Meskwaki—how they came to live in the Quad City area, why they no longer live here, and, as the piece de resistance, a four-by-eight-foot scale model of the city of Saukenuk one of the largest Native American Indian settlements in the United States.
Mississippi River Trail
Situated in Sunset Park in Rock Island is the Mississippi River Trail. Listed as a difficult trial, mainly due to its length and many portions not protected by shade, this asphalt trail hugs the bank of the river as you move through parks, industrial sections, downtown business districts and small river towns.
Enjoy this park offering a picnic area, playground, shelter and restroom facilities as well as access to the Pecatonica Prairie Path which is currently under construction. The Pecatonica River may also be accessed for boating and canoeing approximately 200 yards from the park.
Adventure Quest of the Quad Cities
Adventure Quest of the Quad Cities is the perfect for fun-filled outdoor adventures. This 54-acre facility is located just off 1-80 & I-88 near East Moline IL. Make your reservations today and enjoy zip lines, panning for gems, hay rack rides, and wonderful hiking trails. This facility is also available for parties and corporate team building. An elegantly decorated 8,000 square foot banquet facility with an extensive menu is available. The facility also offers interactive games, inflatables, dunk tanks, water slides, laser tag, and more. Check out these annual fall events that include Pumpkin Festival the last weekend in September and the QC Haunted Forest every Friday & Saturday in October. Call (309) 523-3619 for reservations or more information.
Pomona Natural Bridge
This natural geologic sandstone formation spans 90 feet across a ravine in a mature beech, oak and hickory forest. Nearby is an easy hiking trail dotted with picnic sites.
Forest Park Nature Center
500-acre Illinois nature preserve offering 7 miles of hiking trails ranging from rigorous uphill courses to flatter, less strenuous paths. The center also features a natural history museum, spacious bird watching room, nature hikes, guided walks and a nature store.
Middle Fork Forest Preserve
Middle Fork Forest Preserve, 1600 acres in northeast Champaign County, offers visitors a campground (53 of 65 campsites have electricty), brand new playground, swimming beach, fishing, hiking, boat rentals, cross-country skiing, picnicking, a Waterfowl Management Area, renovated meeting facility and programs. The campground now accepts online reservations.
Large, wooded park offers 43 acres of timber, grassland & bottomland with picnic and playground areas, hiking trails, cross-country skiing, fishing, and a small boat launch on Yellow Creek
Twin Lakes Park
East lake - swimming, camping, boat dock, walking trail, primitive camping. West lake - fishing, picnic, large pavilion, shelter, fireworks, horseshoes, tent camping, trailer camping, permission by police for primitive camping.
Paris City Bluebird Trail
Visit these scattered sites to witness the return of the bluebird to Illinois. The trail and Sycamore Golf Club are two links in the Transcontinental Bluebird Trail.
Black Hawk Park
The city of Paris operates this property on Twin Lakes. Wander the trails to see plants and animals that live in the woods, on marshy land and on the lake. Special nesting boxes have brough bluebirds to the meadows.
Lincoln Prairie Trail
This paved hiking and biking trail follows a historic rail bed for 15 miles across the Illinois prairie.
Center Children's Farm
Experience life down on the farm during guided family tours, or take a hike on the peaceful nature trail.
Lake Katherine Trail
Lake Katherine Trail is a 3.2-mile trail of moderate difficulty, located near Palos Heights, Illinois. This 1.5-hour hike over wood chip, dirt and gravel roads is one of the best urban nature walk trails in the area. The Preserve features an attractive lake, an arboretum, a waterfall garden, an herb and conifer garden and expansive views from atop a ridge in the eastern section.
Deer Grove Forest Preserve
Located in Palatine, IL, Deer Grove Forest Preserve has trails that offer a moderate level of difficulty. At almost 10 miles in length, the hiking trials make Deer Grove worth a visit. Split into two very individual sites connected by paved and unpaved trials, the east preserve features open wetlands surrounded by old fields and an in-progress savanna and prairie restoration. The west side is wilder, the forest denser and crisscrossed with footpaths along the rolling terrain. Quite woodlands, white-tailed deer and a completely different experience await the hiker on the west side. Both paths are equally enchanting.
Starved Rock Adventures Harbor Villas and Suites
Waterfront family villas and suites. 1-2 bedroom housekeeping units. Deluxe and unique. Open April through October. $$
Buffalo Rock State Park
On the bluffs of the Illinois River, this small but charming park is home to an enormous outdoor sculpture. Mounds representing five earthen sculptures molded from Illinois clay, known as Effigy Tumuli, invite visitors to walk around and explore. All five subjects, including a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and insect are native to the Illinois River area. This State Park offers the ideal terrain for the beginner hiker.
Skydive Chicago offers the best entertainment in the Midwest! The 220-acre resort offers camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing and swimming, all onsite. Stop by today!
River Bluff-Effigy Tumuli Trails
River Bluff-Effigy Tumuli Trails in Buffalo Rock State Park offers a unique hiking experience high above the Illinois River and around the massive earthen sculptures of the Effigy Tumuli. Clocking in at 3-miles this easy to moderate hike will be a sight you’ll want to see. The River Bluff Trail is a great way to experience the Buffalo Rock landscape. Buffalo Rock sits like a sandstone island above the surrounding land and Illinois River. The park features oak and hickory woodlands and an expanse of restored grassland where the Effigy Tumuli rise.
Saw Wee Kee Park
Saw Wee Kee Park sits along the south shore of the Fox River. Located in Oswego this park has an abundance of fun, advanced mountain bike singletrack trails to conquer. These 5 miles of steep inclines and quick descents will give you plenty of stories to tell your friends. While you are there you can also fish, kayak and canoe along the Fox River.
Lowden-Miller State Forest
Nestled in the Rock River Valley, just 3 miles south of the town of Oregon, lies a 2,291-acre wooded area that is one of Ogle County's most beautiful and historic sites. Its scenic qualities come from 120-foot bluffs along 3.5 miles of riverfront forested with hardwood and pine trees. The history stems from the individual who, in the early part of the 20th century, augmented the natural hardwood forest by planting pines. Frank O. Lowden (1861-1943), Illinois' governor from 1917-1921, ardently embraced proper land use and strongly believed in reforestation as a way to retard soil erosion. Over several decades, an estimated 500,000 trees were seeded directly by him or under his supervision.
Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock State Park is located three miles south of Oregon on Highway 2. The 2,000-acre park includes rock formations, ravines, and unique northern plant associations. In one valley, 27 different types of ferns have been identified. A sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, has given the park its name. Picnic area amenities include tables, shelters, grills, toilets, drinking water and playground equipment. Six miles of marked hiking trails have been developed, and a public boat ramp/parking facility is located across from the park's main entrance.
Lowden State Park
One of the most picturesque sites along the Rock River is just north of Oregon in Ogle County. The bluffs are graced with a majestic image of an American Indian gazing over the Rock River Valley. This is no ordinary statue. It is a 50 foot, concrete-reinforced wonder that is awe-inspiring. A tribute to all Native Americans, but more commonly associated with Chief Black Hawk, the statue was designed by sculptor Lorado Taft. You can enjoy many wonderful views of the Rock River from the park, but the best view of the statue is from IL Rt. 2.
Richland Creek Trailhead
The Richland Creek Trailhead serves as the main trailhead for the northern end of the Jane Addmas Recreation Trail. It features parking, a large shelter house with electricity, lights and picnic tables, a restroom, water and a primitive campground area.
Irons Oaks Enviromental Center
Call for details
Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center
The Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center is a joint project of the Homewood-Flossmoor (HF Parks.com) and Olympia Fields (OF Parks.com) park districts. The near 40-acre nature preserve is home to a diversity of wildlife and habitat types. See beautiful woods, wildflowers, birds and furry friends along the way. There are trails along both sides of the park which is located at Vollmer and Western Avenues in Olympia Fields. Please be careful when crossing Vollmer Road. The Park is open to the public daily, sunrise to sunset
Pleasant Creek Campground
Pleasant Creek Campground is located 5 miles from the entrance of Starved Rock State Park in the gateway town of Oglesby Illinois. Pleasant Creek Campground is situated in a wooded setting along a tributary of the Virmilion River, surrounded by hills and mature trees. Pleasant Creek Campground has undergone numerous renovations and upgrades. There are 140 spacious sites with plenty of room for slide-outs and awnings. A variety of sites are available. Several sites, including full hook-up sites, are located right along the creek. All sites include a fire ring, picnic table, and varying amount of shade. One highlight of the campground is a spring-fed fishing pond that is naturally maintained year round. Our Camp Store, located at the Welcome Center, is stocked with camping provisions, ice, firewood and all of the supplies that you may have forgotten to pack. Our Bathhouse is equipped with sinks, counter tops, showers, and a laundry room (coin operated). Illinois' Newest RV & Tenting Campground is located just 5 miles from Starved Rock State Park. We have Creekside Campsites, Stocked Fishing Pond, Well Supplied Camp Store. Our Campground Features: Campground Features, BBQs or Fire Pits, Bike & Walk Paths, Dump Station, Fishing Area, Pets Welcome (some restrictions), Picnic Pavilion, Recreation Hall and Security Our Nearby Activities are: Art Festivals, Fishing, Hiking & Biking Trails, Lake Fishing, Restaurants Nearby and Watercraft Rentals.
Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area
The Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area consists of 2,700 acres of grass, forest and cropland, and wildlife habitat. The area also includes a portion of the Middle Fork River, a State and National Scenic River, with over 1,000 feet of scenic corridor for canoeing and fishing. The area also allows for hunting, hiking, picnicking, and camping.
Walnut Point State Park
State park with hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and picnicking. Concession stand and boat rental available.
Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve
Just 20 miles from downtown Chicago, located in Oak Brook, IL is the Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve. It’s an easy hike consisting of a 3.2-mile loop. The trail is good for all skill levels and offers a number of activity options. Nearly all of the hike follows Salt Creek as it winds around the bluff and past a few islands on its way to the historic watermill at the south tip of the park.
Red Oak Nature Center
Nestled on the east bank of the Fox River, the Red Oak Nature Center is surrounded by 40 acres of lush forest and wildlife habitat – an ideal setting for visitors to learn about the great outdoors through direct interaction with nature. Free admission includes: Wildlife Room, Bee Room, Discovery Room, Devil's Cave, Observation Deck, Picnic Shelter and six wood-chip hiking trails. Open year-round. Red Oak Nature Center offers snowshoe rentals during regular operating hours from December to March when snow cover accumulates at least 3 inches on the ground.
North Branch Bicycle Trail
Bicyclists and hikers can travel this trail that runs from Caldwell and Devon Avenues in Chicago, to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. The 20-mile trail winds along the Chicago River past the Skokie Lagoons and through forest preserves.
Newton Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area
This 1,775 acre lake features 540 acres of shoreline as a day use conservation area. Recreational activities include fishing, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and hunting.
Nauvoo State Park
Offers a timbered nature trail, a small prairie plot, and a quiet fishing lake on its 148 acres.
Washington County State Recreational Area
The 248-acre Washington County Lake offers wildlife viewing, fishing and hiking, as well as 900 surrounding acres for hunting. The natural area also has picnic and camping sites.
This 34-acre park located next to the Big Muddy River includes a public boat ramp, picnic areas, ball fields, hiking trails, a pavilion, historic band shell and playground areas.
Little Grand Canyon
A 3.6 mile loop trail constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Offers spectacular views of the Big Muddy River, Turkey Bayou, and the Missouri bluffs across the Mississippi River.
Lincoln Trail Homestead State Memorial
This is the site of Abraham Lincoln's first Illinois home. Bisected by the Sangamon River, the site also features picnicking and hiking.
White Pines Forest State Park
Enjoy recreation on 385 acres, much of it forest, with a state park lodge and provisions for tent and trailer camping. It is also noted for its vine-covered limestone bluffs.
I&M Canal State Trail
Enjoy hiking, jogging, cross-country skiing, camping, snowmobiling, fishing, boating, canoeing and biking along the I&M Canal State Trail. This 61-mile recreational trail begins at Brandon Road in Rockdale and parallels the canal to LaSalle Peru.
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Largest tall grass prairie in Illinois. Big bluestem, Indian grass, and switchgrass thrive here, as do broad-leafed flowering plants known as forbs. Hiking and cross-country skiing.
Gebhard Woods State Park
Hikers, campers, picnickers, and canoeists frequent this 30-acre site, making it one of the state's most popular state parks. Fishing, boating and bird watching are also popular activities. This picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.
Waterfall Glen Hike
Waterfall Glen Hike in DuPage County is a nice, moderate hike. This trail wraps around Argonne National Laboratory and is 11.4 miles long. The main path consists of crushed limestone, but it is ok to take the side trails that are mowed grass or part of an abandoned railroad track. Most of the path is under a tree canopy. Marshes and swamps abound in this area so be sure to bring some insect repellent.
Allerton Park & Retreat Center
Allerton Park was the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton, who donated it to the University of Illinois in 1946. It features 1,500 acres of woodlands, formal gardens and more than 100 sculptures. The park is open to the public for hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing and leisurely garden strolls.
Wright Woods Forest Preserve
The Wright Woods Forest Preserve located in Mettawa offers 4 miles of scenic trails: a short loop for hikers, bicyclists and skiers that circles a pond, and a 3-mile loop for hikers, bicyclists, skiers and horses. This preserve also has footbridge spanning the Des Plaines River, which links Wright Woods to Half Day Forest Preserve.
George Rogers Clark Discovery Trail
Enjoy a scenic ride or walk along this new concrete trail inside Fort Massac State Park. Use of the bicycle and pedestian path is free, and parking is located inside Fort Massac State Park. Upon its completion, the 9 mile trail will begin at Superman Square, continue through Fort Massac State Park, and end in the city of Brookport.
Sugar Grove Nature Center
Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove among over 1,000 acres of forest and prairie. Funks Grove is the largest remaining intact prairie grove in the state of Illinois and is a designated National Natural Landmark. Visitors will enjoy interpretive exhibits, live animals and a wildlife viewing room as well as access to 5 miles of hiking trails. The Imagination Grove Nature Play Area welcomes children to explore, tromp in the creek, climb a tree, ride a zip line and more. A picnic shelter, astronomy observatory, blacksmith forge, corn crib prairie lookout, variety of gardens and many other features help to make Sugar Grove Nature Center a beautiful and unique place. Visit the website to learn more about special events and programs.
Moraine Hills State Park
Moraine Hills State Park located in McHenry, Illinois, offers a tapestry of mosaic marshes, lakes, prairies, bogs, wooded hills and streams that are perfect for hikers, skiers and cyclists. The hike consists of two 8-mile loops of crushed gravel that takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. With a rating of moderate to difficult, Moraine Hills State Park hike will surely make the top of every outdoor enthusiast’s list.
Old Plank Road Trail
Old Plank Road is a 21-mile recreation and nature trail used by in-line skaters, walkers, runners, bikers, bicyclists and even cross-country skiers in the winter. This trail reaches from Park Forest all the way to Joliet.
Lincoln Trail State Park
Whether you are looking for history, unusual plant life or recreation, Lincoln Trail State Park has something to interest you. The area is named after the Lincoln Heritage Trail where Abraham Lincoln's family followed en route from Indiana to Illinois in 1831. Lincoln Trail State Park offers American beech woods and a nature preserve with hiking trails, boat rentals, camping, biking, bird watching, fishing, ice fishing and ice skating. Restaurant open seasonally.
Mill Creek Park
Mill Creek Park is located seven miles northwest of Marshall, Illinois on the Lincoln Heritage Trail road. Mill Creek consists of 2,600 acres of land and 811 acres of water with 39 miles of shoreline. Since opening, the park has continued to develop; there are picnic areas on either side of the boat launch and at areas around the lake, a 139 site campground with shower facilities and playground, 15 mile ATV trails, horse and walking trails, courtesy docks, cabin and boat rental including kayaks and paddle boats.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located primarily in Williamson County, with small extensions into eastern Jackson and northeastern Union counties of southern Illinois. At almost 44,000 acres and with three lakes (Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen,) endless opportunities abound for watching wildlife, hiking nature trails, photography, swimming, fishing from the bank or by boat, and hunting. Four seasonally operational campgrounds are open from April-October and offer full hook-up, water, electric, or non-electric sites. Refuge staff and volunteers at the visitor center welcome visitors and sightseers 7 days a week from 8am-4:30pm. Visitor activities such as guided hikes, bald eagle tours, and monthly F.U.N. programs help connect families with the diversity of flora and fauna that Southern Illinois has to offer. The Refuge provides many opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation for the nature lover in us all.
Marengo Ridge - McHenry County Conservation District
The major glacial feature at Marengo Ridge Conservation area is the Marengo Ridge, from which the site derives its name. Left by the retreating Wisconsin glacier, the Marengo Ridge moraine is 40 miles long and 3 miles wide, creating one of the steepest vertical moraines in Illinois, at 1,050 feet above sea level. This rugged, fire-protected topography supported wooded communities dominated by oak species. Site features hiking trails, campground, picnic shelters, scenic views, x-country skiing, and fishing.
Coral Woods - McHenry County Conservation District
This sugar maple forest provides the sweet sap necessary for annual maple sugar programs, and is also known for its magnificent display of spring wildflowers. Activities include hiking, x-country skiing, picnic shelters and scenic views.
Camp Shaw was established in 1956 and is the best kept secret in all of beautiful Kankakee County! Camp Shaw is also a wonderful place to hold a variety of outdoor and indoor events. It provides overnight accommodation; horseback riding, guided trail rides or group lessons and weekend packages are available. It is also an outdoor, environmental science education program encouraging interest and participation in the balanced management of natural resources.
Giant City Park Campground
Class A campground with separate tent and trailer camping for equestrians. Also, a youth group camp and primitive walk-in tent sites.
Giant City State Park
Spectacular woodlands and sheer sandstone walls create a challenge for rock climbing and rappelling, as well as hiking. Outdoor lovers will also find horseback riding, a lookout tower, cabins and a swimming pool. Dine at historic Giant City Lodge, known for its homemade fried chicken dinner. Two different locations in Giant City State Park near Carbondale give you climbing options. A trail behind the picnic shelter takes you to a set of steep bluffs known as Shelter #1 near the Makanda entrance; another climbing area of the park includes the steep sandstone cliffs in Devil's Standtable. Plan to bring all of your own equipment since no permanent anchors are allowed. Ropes are permitted in both areas. After rainstorms, the wet sandstone gets really slippery. Use caution when grabbing for ledges as copperhead snakes warm themselves on the rocks during sunny days.