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Fun for all ages. Ride your own sled down 2,050 feet of terrain-tailored track to the banks of the Mississippi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located on the northeast corner of Johnston City, this 35-acre lake includes a paved boat ramp for fishing, walking path, and campground. Only electric motors and canoes are permitted. You will find largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black and white crappie, and channel catfish in this small reservoir. Pedal boat rentals are available from July-September.
Let Aurora Skate Center share the joy of roller skating in a family-friendly environment. They pride themselves with offering something for everyone, from the little ones to adults who have been skating for years. Home of the Aurora 88s, Aurora Skate Center takes pride in their professional-quality hardwood maple “floating” floor. On Mondays they host a live organ-music dance session with Frank Pellico, organist for the Chicago Blackhawks, playing the only triple-deck Hammond X-66 Pipe Organ (w/ 26-ranks of pipes) in the country. See Friday and Saturday night on the "Daily Calendar" for "Fresh Fridays" and "Old vs. New School Saturdays!" See their web site for more events and details.
The City of Aurora and Zagster, Inc. launched a new bike-share program that will provide Aurora visitors with a convenient, affordable and healthy way to get around town. 18 cruiser bikes are available at three downtown stations for riders to use for on-demand, local trips. Stations are located at RiverEdge Park - 360 Broadway Ave., Aurora City Hall - 44 E. Downer Place and Santori Public Library of Aurora - 101 S. River Street. This initiative creates new opportunities for visitors to experience the Aurora Area from a different vantage point and see it in a whole new light.
Beverly Lake Forest Preserve Trail is perfect for hiking and biking. The five mile out and back trail located near Dundee that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
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.
More than 35 miles of trails, from Aurora to Crystal Lake, pass through scenic landscapes. Routes include the Fox River, Virgil Gilman and Red Oak Trails, and the Illinois Prairie Path.
Encompassing more than 3,000 acres along the Mississippi River, Big River State Forest is a remnant of woodland that once bordered the vast prairies. The 1-½ mile Lincoln Hiking Trail commemorates Abraham Lincoln's march through the area in 1832.
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.
Tour Chicago on a cool cruiser-style bicycle and follow a guide who makes brief stops at the most popular sights, providing light-hearted commentary that will keep you entertained. Some fun rides include the Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour, Bikes, Bites and Brews Tour, and the Southside Gangster Tour.
Hike or bike into Buehler Preserve from Galena and experience the prairie life! Pets welcome. Fishing is allowed.
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.
The Busse Woods Trail system is located within Ned Brown Forest Preserve, a 3,700-acre property in the western suburbs. There are 11.2 miles of paved trails for cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians. The main loop is nearly 8 miles, circling some lakes and meadows, while a couple of much shorter side loops will take you to the north and south end of the forest preserve. The Busse Woods Trail connects with the Schaumburg Bikeway on the west, and on the north, Busse Woods links to the Rolling Meadows Bikeway system. Some key features of the forest preserve include fishing, boat rentals and a small herd of captive resident elk. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset.
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.
This outfitter in the Illinois Valley offers canoe equipment, instruction, and transportation to help you fully enjoy this scenic stretch of the Vermilion River. Venture out on your own, or choose from excursions that include everything from picnics along the river to overnight camping trips.
Experience a commanding view of the Mississippi River and the only known intact thunderbird effigy mound in Illinois. Hiking, bird watching, sightseeing, Native American archaeology and much more on 85 acres of scenic Mississippi River bluffs.
Cemetery Trail in Palos lives up to its name with narrow tracks that snake through dense foliage. A must ride for any thrill-seeking trekking enthusiast.
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.
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 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.