Showing 1-96 of 203 items found in Outdoors & Play
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.
Garden of the Gods
Explore the dramatic rock formations, cliffs and trails of the most visited site in the Shawnee National Forest. Millions of years in the making, the Garden of the Gods provides spectacular views unlike anywhere in the Midwest. See Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, Devil's Smoke Stack and other magnificent rock formations in this hiker’s and photographer’s wonderland.
CITY: Karbers Ridge
Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. If you’re into climbing than a must-see is Jackson Falls, located near the town of Ozark in the Hidden Springs Ranger District in Shawnee National Forest. The climb takes place on 60 feet of sandstone cliffs and boulders that include numerous freestanding towers.
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.
Wildlife Prairie State Park
Wildlife Prairie State Park is home to over 150 animals that are native to Illinois, including wolves, bison, black bear, elk and cougars. Experience the Adventure Trek Tour, which includes a trip through the bison and elk pasture. Unique overnight lodging located in the park includes authentic train cabooses and a cabin nestled in the woods. The park also offers biking enthusiasts 5 miles of singletrack intermediate level terrain with good technical trails and rocky terrain it will feel like you’re biking in the mountains.
CITY: Hanna City
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. Lodge has 69 rooms and 21 cabin rooms in a rustic, wooded setting.
Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins
Nestled in the beautiful hills of the Shawnee National Forest, Timber Ridge offers something for everyone, from families and honeymooners to outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy some Southern hospitality while staying in a real log cabin or one-of-a-kind treehouse. Each of the units, including the treehouse, is equipped with a bathroom, kitchenette, heating and air conditioning.
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.
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.
The largest man-made lake in Illinois (26,000 acres), is a premier location for outdoor sports. Known to sailors, it is one of the best and most challenging for sailboats. There is also boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, sand beaches, and camping areas. Hotels, cabins and golf courses make the area a true outdoor lover's playground.
Starved Rock Adventures Harbor Villas and Suites
Waterfront family villas and suites. 1-2 bedroom housekeeping units. Deluxe and unique. Open April through October. $$
Chicago Botanic Garden
The Chicago Botanic Garden opened a little more than 40 years ago as a beautiful place to visit, and it has matured into one of the world's great living museums and conservation science centers. Each year, nearly one million people visit the Garden's 26 gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on 385 acres of land on and around nine islands. Six miles of shoreline extend along 81 acres of water, including the Great Basin, North Lake, and Skokie River Corridor. The Garden also has a renowned Bonsai Collection.
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.
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.
Pere Marquette State Park
At 8,000 acres, Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois. Go hiking on wooded trails, biking along scenic bluffs, fishing and boating on the Illinois River, or horseback riding through the forest. The park is also known for its guided fall color drives and eagle-watching tours in the winter. The rustic stone-and-timber Pere Marquette Lodge makes a great base for exploring the area.
Egyptian Hills Resort
Egyptian Hills Resort is your passport to the Ultimate outdoor family vacation. Whether you are into waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, sport fishing, or pleasure boating; the Lake of Egypt is a boater’s paradise. All within a stone’s throw of your cabin. Within minutes of your cabin, your family can enjoy guided expeditions such as; horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, geo-caching, wildlife photography and many other outdoor activities. Whether planning a single activity or multiple activities for your group, we at Egyptian Hills are your personal concierge in planning your ultimate outdoor family vacation. Whether onsite or through one of our partner guides, all activities are tailored for all ages and experience levels.
CITY: Creal Springs
The Morton Arboretum
Magnificent, 1,700-acre museum of trees and plants from around the world. Hiking trails, paved roads, restaurant, gift shop, open-air tram and handicapped accessible facilities. A perfect place to visit this fall.
Apple River Fort State Historic Site
Apple River Fort State Historic Site, located in Elizabeth, Illinois, is the site of one of the battles fought during the Black Hawk War. Black Hawk and his 200 warriors attacked the hastily erected fort on June 24, 1832. His story and that of the early settlers are told.
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.
Cache River State Natural Area
Renowned for its ancient cypress-tupelo swamp, this natural area has been named one of America's 10 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems by Budget Travel. This sprawling area contains 100 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and 11 state champion trees that have stood for centuries. Visitors enjoy birding, hunting, wildlife watching, canoeing and hiking. Bikers can access the Cache River via the Tunnel Hill State Trail.
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.
CITY: Rock Island
The Chicago Riverwalk trail in downtown Chicago is an easy way to experience the vibrant city while exploring some of its more nature-oriented offerings. This trail is rated as easy, and will take you only 2.5 hours or 4.2 miles round-trip to complete.
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Ski along scenic slopes at Galena's Chestnut Mountain Resort, perched high above the Mississippi River. Rated by Ski Magazine as one of the top ski resorts in the Midwest, Chestnut Mountain goes all out with a snowboarding park and night skiing. Stay at the rustic 120-room lodge, which has three restaurants, including the fine-dining Sunset Grille. There are fun non-skiing activities in the summer as well, including boat cruises on the Mississippi Explorer and the exhilarating Alpine Slide, which speeds 2,000 feet down a hillside. Or try the new Segway Mountain Adventure Tours, a three-mile guided ride through rolling terrain.
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.
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.
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.
CITY: Mount Morris
I & M Canal State Trail
The I&M Canal Trail offers 61 miles of picturesque hiking and biking trails that follow the historic route of the I&M Canal from Channahon to LaSalle. The Trail also boasts Illinois’ longest continuous snowmobile trail, and is a favored route for cross-country skiers.
Wildlife Prairie Park
A unique, 2,000-acre zoological park which is home to wolves, bison, waterfowl, black bear, elk, cougar, otter, and others. You will enjoy the park's spectacular natural settings, butterfly garden, wildflowers, lakes and restored prairies.
CITY: Hanna City
Consisting of the Robert McCormick Mansion Museum, the First Division Military Museum, ten acres of gardens and parks, 27-hole championship golf course and nine-hole Cantigny Youth Links.
Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa
At Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa go golfing on one of four championship courses, horseback riding along hilly wooded trails, boating on the sapphire waters of Lake Galena, or soaring over the countryside in a hot air balloon with Galena on the Fly. Relax in the luxury of the resort’s Stonedrift Spa with a pampering massage. Eagle Ridge offers a wide variety of lodging that ranges from traditional inn rooms to golf villas and distinctive homes.
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour consists of eight zip lines, the longest stretching more than 1,100 feet, which will zig-zag across the property’s bluffs and through the valley. The tour also includes 11 platforms high in the trees, three aerial suspension bridges, the longest stretching 180 feet, and two short ground hikes. A canopy tour is an exciting way to experience the flora, fauna, geology and history of the outdoors by safely traversing an established route of ziplines and aerial bridges between platforms built in the trees, and they are just plain fun!
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.
Trail of Tears Lodge
A remote lodge surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. An abundance of outdoor recreation: horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting range, archery range, dirt bike & ATV trails. Outdoor pool, game room, hot tub and pets accepted.
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.
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.
CITY: Port Byron
Fever River Outfitters
From kayaking and biking to scooter rentals, Fever River Outfitters has everything you need to add a little adventure to your Galena getaway. The staff here knows the area well and offers excursions that take care of every detail—whether you’re kayaking to an island picnic or taking a scooter to a vineyard for an afternoon wine tasting. Want to explore on your own? Simply rent or purchase outdoor gear and set off on your own adventure along the many biking paths, waterways and winding roads of this scenic part of northwest Illinois.
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.
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.
Bald Knob Cross
A national symbol of faith, this 111-foot-tall cross, when illuminated at night, can be seen over an area of 7,500 square miles atop the most prominent elevation in Southern Illinois. The cross is surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest.
CITY: Alto Pass
Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park
This beautiful 715-acre state park with a 40-acre lake derives its name from a combination of the town of Lena and the Latin work for water, aqua. Lake Le-Aqua-Na offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities including more than 10 miles of mult-use trails. The large tracts of wooded land include oak, hickory, walnut and pine trees. Woodland flowers are on display, especially in the spring and early summer, and wildlife is abundant. There is boating, fishing, a children's fishing pond, swimming, picnic and playground areas, shelters, trails for mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing, equestrian trails, sledding, hunting and camping.
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.
Argyle Lake State Park
Find serenity at this beautiful 1700-acre wooded park situated along an old stagecoach route between Galena and Beardstown. Featuring 95-acre Argyle Lake, the park is home to countless beaver dams and more than 200 bird species and 5 miles of hiking and biking trails.
River to River Trail
If you want to truly experience the Shawnee National Forest, and Southern Illinois, then the River-to-River Trail in Illinois is for you. The Trail spans 160 miles of Illinois from Battery Rock on the Ohio River to Devil’s Backbone Park in Grand Tower Illinois on the Mississippi River, and it can take up to 2-3 weeks to complete in its entirety. With a combination of plains, bayous, bluffs and upland forests, there’s something for everyone to feast their eyes on. And, with difficulty levels ranging from easy to hard there’s a path for everyone in your party to enjoy.
CITY: Karbers Ridge
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!
Galena River Trail
Scenic biking and hiking along a six-mile trail featuring views of the Galena River and towering bluffs.
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.
Little Grand Canyon Trail
The Little Grand Canyon trail is located within the Shawnee National Forest. Experience the easy 3.6 miles of beauty it offers as you ride your bike or hike these fun trails that meander past lush wooded canyons, riverside bluffs, songbirds, woodpeckers and deer; while hawks and vultures soar high above the cliffs. Explore towering rock walls, eroded sandstone canyons, craggy bluffs and moist bottom lands, too.
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.
Stone Creek Golf Club & Resort
Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, Stone Creek features an 18 hole-championship course and beautiful cabins. Stone Creek also offers a restaurant, clubhouse, and a scenic area for hiking and fishing.
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.
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.
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.
CITY: Rock Island
Cheif Keokuk Campground
The Chief Keokuk Campground features 70 pads with electrical hook-ups for trailers, plus 25 tent sites (All camping Class B/E). There is a shower building on site. A sanitary dump station is near the camping area. A primitive cabin, Chief Tecumseh, is also available. The cabin is located on a slope overlooking Johnson Lake. A fire grill, table and BBQ grill are provided outside. A full size bed, two sets of bunk beds, a table and benches are provided inside. The cabin has heat and air conditioning as well as two ceiling fans. Reservations can be made, for dates between May 1st and November 1st, at ReserveAmerica.com for the campgrounds and cabin.
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.
This beautiful Freeport park offers an antique carousel, waterfall, seasonal duck pond, miniature golf course, 18-hole disc golf course, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a quarter mile nature trail, paddle boats, canoes, fishing, hiking, biking, a performance amphitheater, gardens, picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds including "Kid's Kastle", and sledding in the winter. The Yellow Creek Adventure Golf Course (miniature golf) is open daily from Memorial Day thru Labor Day from Noon to Dusk. The Disc Golf Course is open during regular park hours and is free to play. The carousel is open prior to Memorial Day on weekends from Noon to Dusk and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is open daily from Noon to Dusk. Yellow Creek boat rentals, including the duck paddle boats or the larger swan boat, are available daily from Memorial Day thru Labor Day weekend from Noon to Dusk. Park attractions are open seasonally; call ahead to confirm availability of specific attractions.
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.
Trail of Tears State Forest
Set among the rugged slopes of the Ozark Hills in Southern Illinois, this site offers picnic shelters with roadside fireplaces throughout the forest. Features a network of trails for hiking and horseback riding enthusiasts.
Located 4 miles north of I-80 at exit 19 and adjacent to the historic Hennepin Canal. Shady, quiet camping in the midst of nature's wonders. Spend a night in one of our four rustic cabins. Try the Yurt Accomodations. It is 20 foot diameter, and sleeps 8. It has one queen bed and 2 bunk beds with a full on bottom and twin on top Rent a canoe or kayak and relax on historic Hennepin Canal. Bring you own bicycle or simply walk to enjoy the recreational trail along the Hennepin Canal. The town of Geneseo has great Victorian homes with welcoming porches. In additional to the RV camp sites, there are 12 tent sites available. Internet services on site.
Anthony Acres Resort
Anthony Acres Resort has picturesque views of Lake Sara. The resort is only five minutes from Effingham, so you can come into town and enjoy some food or shop.
Walnut Point State Park
State park with hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and picnicking. Concession stand and boat rental available.
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park
3,300-acre peninsula in Rend Lake. Beautiful park offering boating, camping, and picnicking with shelters. Programs include pheasant hunting, field trials, and bass tournaments. Bicycle, horse trails, and stables.
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.
CITY: Willow Springs
American Discovery Trail
What a way to travel - about 75 miles, from one major river to another (the Illinois and the Mississippi), all on one newly built trail. The Hennepin Parkway State Trail (a linear state park) offers surcease from the flat, treeless Illinois prairie with a lock-strewn straight course of water and a green tunnel over the old tow path of a canal that was obsolete before it was completed. Quaint towns lie nearby, camping spaces (usually primitive) abound, and history is there for the dipping of your fingers in the water. At Sheffield, a comprehensive trail museum more than fills the gaps in your experience of a very unique way to travel through the heart of America.
Matthiessen State Park
Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and more in this state park known for its waterfalls, bluffs and canyons.
A 32-acre park built in cooperation with Batavia Park District, the city of Batavia and the Batavia Riverwalk Committee. Park your bikes by the Depot Museum and stroll the boardwalks through the wildflower garden.
Rock Cut State Park
With over 3,000 acres of rolling plains and two lakes, Rock Cut State Park is a hiker's paradise. It's also home to some of the best mountain biking in northeastern Illinois, offering 10 miles of dirt and sand terrain, doubletrack and singletrack trails. One of the loops is 4.25-miles, the Main Trail, which runs around Pierce Lake. Another loop snakes around the northeast corner of the park and leads through dense trees and hills.
CITY: Loves Park
Located on over 325 acres including a 28-acre fishing lake with a one-mile multiple use trail and a restored prairie grass development. The remains of the extinct elephant-like mastodon were found in this lake in the 1930s. Attractions include a life-size sculpture of a mastodon at the Mastodon Gallery, the gorgeous Sunken Garden, an 18-hole golf course and driving range, a zoo, war memorials, a winter recreation area and a 8,000-square-foot BMX & Skate Park.
Ballard Nature Center
Just minutes away from the city but a world away, Ballard Nature Center is home to dozens of species of birds and wildlife. Natural prairie, wetlands, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, ponds and creeks round out the outdoor experience.
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.
CITY: Vernon Hills
Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve
Lake of the Woods County Park is a 900-acre preserve that features an 18-hole regulation golf course, a 9-hole par 3 course and practice range, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing, sledding the Hi-Tower bell carillon and observation area, a 3.3 mile bicycle/pedestrian path, the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens, building rentals and various programs.
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.
Approximately 25 weekend sites and 200 permanent sites on the east side of Litchfield's Lake Lou Yaeger. Site offers trail hikes, lake frontage, 30 amp RV service, city water and convenience store.
Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River. The park offers hiking, day use, camping and fishing, plus Millville, a National Historic Register site.
CITY: Apple River
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.
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.
River Bend Forest Preserve
The 275-acre River Bend Forest Preserve south of Mahomet contains approximately 130 acres of clear water in two lakes, one of which is the largest public lake in Champaign County, and includes 2.5 miles of forest along the Sangamon River.
Come out to Camp Lakewood and enjoy the views of Lake Pauline plus all the creature comforts. Camp Lakewood is an RV campground. The sites include cable, WiFi, 30/50 AMP. They also offer a one and two bedroom cabin that is fully furnished and self contained. The newest cabin sleeps five and includes Cable TV. They do offer tent sites as well for those who want to be a little closer to nature.
TREC Recreation Trails
The TREC trail system is a public trail designed to create recreational opportunities. The trails provide a great place for visitors to exercise, whether its walking, riding bikes, or roller blading. The mission is to develop a countrywide, multi-use trail system, educate the communities on the benefits of the trails, and promote an active lifestyle by providing recreational activities.
Chicago Lakefront Trail
Take in the lake as you soak in one of Chicago’s most beautiful treasures. The Lakefront Trail is a runner’s paradise, spanning an impressive 17-miles of natural beauty and man-made inspirations. It runs north from Navy Pier to Foster Avenue and south to 31st beach. The trail’s smooth terrain makes it easy to traverse, while its hidden secrets make it fun to explore. And when you’re done with your run, bike, hike or whatever, you can cool down with spectacular lake views or breathtaking cityscapes.
Shoal Creek Nature Preserve
This 260-acre site offers nature trails for visitors to explore wetlands, prairie openings, and sandstone bluffs and ledges. The preserve is home to more than 700 plants and 70 bird species, including bald eagles during the winter months.
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.
A short nature trail along the path of the Cairo & St Louis Narrow Gage railroad used before it was abandoned in 1981. Starting from downtown Alto Pass, the walk offers very scenic views.
CITY: Alto Pass
Sangamon River Forest Preserve
Sangamon River Forest Preserve, a 160-acre gem, offers a variety of natural features and is ideal for low-impact activities such as picnicking, bird-watching, hiking and river fishing. The preserve hosts the Lincoln Ash Tree, one of the largest ash trees in the state.
Cedar Lake Trail
A 10-mile trail on the west side of Cedar Lake from north to south. Encircles Little Cedar Lake.
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.
Chicago Botanic Garden Loop
The Chicago Botanic Garden Loop offers a moderate level of difficulty to those wanting to experience quiet beauty in far north Cook County. The 385-acre garden is home to 2.4 million plants and is one of the most visited gardens in the country. Hiking will take you 4.5 hours and with almost 7 miles of trails, mostly paved you will get to experience both the lagoons and the Botanic Garden.
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.
Boone County Conservation District
The Boone County Conservation District manages over 3,00 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands in scenic Boone County, Illinois. Minimum impact recreational opportunities, special events and educational programs are offered to the public throughout the year.
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.
Jane Addams Recreation Trail
This multi-use 15 mile recreational trail offers beautiful scenery and is highlighted by 21 bridges passing wetlands, creeks, woods, prairies, geologic formations and farmland. The trail, named after Jane Addams, the humanitarian and public health pioneer born and raised in nearby Cedarville, is part of the Grand Illinois Trail which traverses northern Illinois from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Its crushed limestone surface may be used by hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. Trail maps are available.
Independence Grove Forest Preserve
This scenic 1,114-acre preserve offers a wide range of outdoor recreation and education opportunities centered around a 115-acre lake reclaimed from a gravel quarry. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing and boating, a Marina with boat rentals, a native garden and nearly seven miles of trails. The 19,000-square-foot Visitor Center features exhibits and a cafe. It can be rented for weddings and other private functions.
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.
CITY: Mount Zion
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
The Hennepin Canal State Park, a 104-mile linear park, is a rustic, historic, educational, and recreational jewel spanning five counties and includes the entire width of Henry County with access points in Annawan, Atkinson, Geneseo, and Colona. It offers an up-close look at a fascinating piece of transportation history. It is popular with bicyclists who ride from town to town exploring the history, dining, lodging, and entertainment possibilities as they travel. The canal multi-purpose recreational trail is a portion of the American Discovery Trail, a 6,800-mile coast-to-coast trail devoted to non-motorized use. It is also part of the Grand Illinois Trail, a 535-mile loop through northern Illinois. The tree-lined park is a refuge with prairie restorations and wetlands slicing through corn and soybean farmland. Home to diverse flora and fauna, it has become a favorite for bird watchers and prairie enthusiasts. It offers numerous year-round opportunities to boat, hike, bike, fish, ride horseback, snowmobile, ice skate, and cross-country ski. Explore Henry County’s jewel – the Hennepin Canal. In wintertime experience the longest snowmobile trail in the state -- 91 miles on the tow path. You can use the ice at your own risk, but pay heed to the locks, bridges and culverts where the ice likely is thinner than the rest of the canal. Bring your blades, skating along the canal is free! Keep in mind the rule is there must be 4" of snow and 6" of frost on canal for route to be open. Call the Visitor Center for automated message.
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.
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.
CITY: St. Charles
The Grove National Historic Landmark
The prairie grove, covering 123 acres of ecologically diverse prairie land, is preserved and maintained as former home of the visionary horticulturist and educator Dr. John Kennicott, who brought his family from New Orleans to settle on his land in 1836. The Grove, located in Glenview, is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It offers many opportunities for educational, environmental and historical enjoyment including two historic homes, the Kennicott House and the Redfield Estate; the Grove Interpretive Center, a Native American Village, a Log Cabin, a Schoolhouse, a Wetlands Greenhouse and numerous interpretive trails.