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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.
The McCully Heritage Project is a natural area made up of 940 acres of hills and hollows in Calhoun County, Illinois. The project offers 15 miles of hiking and horse back riding trails, two ponds for fishing and turtle watching, a wetland with a boardwalk, a hill prairie plot and more. Hiking is pleasant even in the summer as the wooded trails provide plenty of shade. Facilities are available for group activities, large and small. The focus of the McCully Heritage Project is upon cultural and environmental enjoyment, education, and preservation. The general public is welcome to hike, picnic, bird watch, and enjoy the natural beauty of the site. The McCully Heritage Project is located about 1 mile south of Kampsville, Illinois, off of Illinois Route 100. Take Crawford Creek Road west about 1/2 mile to MHP.
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.
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.
The Nature Institute is a non-profit land conservation and environmental education organization based in Godfrey, IL. Since its founding in 1980, The Nature Institute's board and staff have worked to foster an awareness and appreciation of the natural world through preservation, restoration, and education. The Nature Institute also owns and manages over 450 acres of protected land, such as the Olin Nature Preserve, the Mississippi Sanctuary, the Kemp and Cora Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary, and the Heartland Prairie Project at Gordon Moore Park. These natural areas provide unique places for the public to experience the diversity of the Riverbend area with its hardwood forests, prairies and wetlands. The preserves are open to the public and free to use from dawn to dusk.
Tutty’s Crossing Trailhead provides easy access to the Jane Addams Trail and to the Pecatonica Prairie Trail (under development). It is located on the banks of the Pecatonica River. A bridge, part of the Pecatonica Prairie Trail, crosses the river and provides scenic views. The Trailhead provides parking, a boat ramp, and walking area. Future planned developments include a shelter/restroom, fishing/observation pier, picnic tables, and floating dock. Open: Dawn to Dusk
This multi-use 17 mile trail offers beautiful scenery and 22 bridges, including a covered bridge in Orangeville, passing wetlands, creeks, woods, prairies, geologic formations and farmland. The trail, named after Jane Addams, the Nobel Peace Prize humanitarian and Hull House settlement founder born and raised in nearby Cedarville, is part of the Grand Illinois Trail which traverses northern Illinois from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. The 13 miles of the trail is a crushed limestone surface which may be used by hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers. Trail maps are available.
This forest preserve has miles of wooded trails and a quarry lake suitable for hiking and horseback. Fishing, canoeing and kayaking permitted in season.
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
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.
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.
Developed by local volunteers, it offers scenic trails, horseback riding, fishing, and limited hunting. The site contains the historic Franklin Creek Grist Mill and a 180-acre dedicated nature preserve.
Sand Creek is a 755-acre open space site located just south of Decatur off South Franklin Street. Hike the trails to the bluff overlooking Sand Creek for panoramic view of the countryside. Over 7.5 total miles with varying difficulty. Open to hikers & horseback riders.
Whispering Willows Park at Willowhaven Interpretive Center features open prairies, wetlands, interpretive gardens and 1.5 miles of limestone trails surrounding two scenic ponds. All trails begin and end at the Willowhaven Interpretive Center scenic outlook.
Private natural area owned by the Nature Conservancy. Highlights are 1500 acres of prairie, wetlands, and savanna woodlands. Grassland flowers, birds and butterflies to observe.
Dodds Park offers picnic and playground areas, flower gardens, three shelter houses, concession stand, two lighted tennis courts, volleyball and basketball courts, two lighted ball diamonds, horseshoe pits, batting cages and two shuffleboard courts.
A visit to the center will help folks learn about the native plants and animals of the Fox River Valley. Interpretive center, hiking trails, and tours of Devil's Cave.
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.
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.
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.
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
Prehistoric dwellers left their marks on the rock walls. Petroglyphs depict animals, humans, geometric figures, and crosses.