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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.
McHenry County Conservation District manages over 25,000 acres of diverse woodlands, wetlands and prairie. Explore outdoor recreational opportunities, programs and special events at 33 sites.
Bobber’s is an open-deck, outdoor bar along the banks of the Pecatonica River. It is a relaxing stop for travelers by road or river. Bring your own pole or just sit and relax with a cold drink as you watch the river flow by. Weekly entertainment on the Pontoon Boat stage; never a cover charge. Open: May thru October: Sunday: 11 am - 10 pm; Thursday thru Saturday: 11 am - 1 am.
This site's 5,500 acres make up one of the largest and most used hunting and field trailing areas in the state. It also offers camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, two small natural areas and 12 miles of equestrian trails with cross-country jumps.
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is located about 60 miles south of Chicago on Historic Route 66. Midewin is not only the largest prairie restoration site east of the Mississippi River, but also the largest open space in northeastern Illinois. Trails available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. A small herd of bison was introduced here in October 2015 and it is possible (although not guaranteed) to spot them from our trails.
Offers places to fish and picnic. Canoe access. Biking. A host for "A River Thru History" each September, where you can step back 200 years into Chicago's past with a festive gathering of fur trappers, settlers, craftsmen, and entertains along the banks of the Des Plaines River.
The gateway to the largest outdoor playground in southern Illinois includes Rend Lake, the second largest manmade lake in the state. Wheelchair access.
Over 25,000 acres, nearly 140 miles of trails and educational facilities. Enjoy relaxing, volunteering and exploring the forests, lakes, prairies, and open spaces.
There are formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and more. An underground stream flows through the cave bed, and the temperature is a relatively constant 58 degrees.
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).
As a major stopping point for migrating ducks and geese, this 9,486-acre area offers excellent public waterfowl hunting opportunities.
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.
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.
Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and more in this state park known for its waterfalls, bluffs and canyons.
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.
Visit Illinois’ bayou. Yes, the bayou in Illinois. Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge is home to incredible cypress-filled swamps and wetlands and is unlike anything you expect to find in the Midwest. The refuge protects 15,000 acres of lush wetlands and some of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River.
Upland game bird hunting from Oct. 1 - April. Dogs & guide service available. Located 3 miles west of Jct. Hwy. 37 & Hwy. 169, or, 4 miles east of I-57 just off Shawnee College Road.
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.
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.
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.
135 acres, natural history museum, handicapped-accessible trails, 1880's living history farm and pioneer cooking demos. Cost for some programs.
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.