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Located in Algonquin only 30 short miles west of downtown Chicago is where you will find the Fox River Trail. This medium level trail hugs the Fox River between Aurora and Algonquin. The trail travels along the routes of historic railroad lines and crosses six bridges along the way while it changes surfaces between concrete, asphalt and crushed stone on its way through charming towns such as Carpentersville, Elgin and West Dundee.
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.
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.
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.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches"). Several are located at the Rivers Project and interested individuals can attend this free 1 hour program on Saturdays, June through August,to learn more and get involved in geocaching.
The Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is 272 acre of wetlands offering a rare and fragile ecosystem, which includes endangered turtles, many birds and unique plant life. It is located near the intersection of U.S. Route 52 and Mormon Road about 3 miles south of Amboy. Open to the public 7 days a week for walking and bird-watching. No dogs are allowed due to sensitive plant and wildlife.
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.
Crazy Horse is a 55-acre campground blanketed with rolling hills, hiking trails through wooded land, and two large ponds for fishing, boating, and a swimming beach. A lodge for rest and relaxation and a playground for the little ones makes this campground a great place to get away for the season or the weekend! Check out our wide, level sites with full hook-ups as well as our primitive camping area. Call 217-886-2089 or stop by and see us. We're located 8 miles north of Jacksonville and 25 miles west of Springfield, and we're happy to show you around!!
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.
Explore the acres of woods and lakes, with scenic trails, shelters and views of Aurora and Chicago's skyline.
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.
Rocktown Adventures is a specialty outdoor retailer and adventure club. They offer sales, rentals, lessons, guided trips and related apparel for kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. They also carry camping equipment, lifestyle apparel and transportation equipment. Rocktown's mission is to help you gear up and head out. They carry top equipment sold by knowledgeable staff. Their experienced instructors love to share their passion for the outdoors. The trip guides know the waterways and trails like the back of their hand. The shop is conveniently located near an abundance of recreational assets waiting to be discovered by you!
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.
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.
Whether you're interested in science or just fishing in the ponds near the buffalo herd you're welcome at Fermilab. Take a self-guided tour of the laboratory, the Art Gallery and science and educational displays. View the grounds from the 15th floor observation area. Visitors may also visit the Lederman Science Center. Performing arts and lectures. Groups welcome by appointment. Public tours are offered every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and as part of the Ask-a-Scientist event on the first Sunday of each month.
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.
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.
This forest preserve has miles of wooded trails and a quarry lake suitable for hiking and horseback. Fishing, canoeing and kayaking permitted in season.
The Bloomington-Normal Constitution Trail is one of Central Illinois' most unique parks. This 37-mile jogging, walking, cycling and rollerblading trail has become a hit with the community and visitors alike. The trail is broken into four segments: the north-south segment, east-west segment, the Liberty Branch and the Freedom Branch, all reaching across numerous areas in Bloomington-Normal. Parking for the trail is available at adjoining lots throughout the area. The trail is open to walkers, runners, in-line skaters, skateboarders, cyclists, wheelchair users and other non-motorized forms of transportation. During winter months, it is not cleared of snow, and is available to skiers; weather permitting.
Enthusiasts of all kinds find enjoyment in the wide array of activities the park offers including 4-miles of fully accessible paved paths that wind through natural prairie, woods and riverfront of the Perry Farm site.
Home to one of the earliest educational enterprises in Illinois, the park and its sister site, Jubilee College State Historic Site, are located 15 miles northwest of Peoria near Kickapoo. In addition, to the rich history of the college, the park offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and camping. Jubilee College State Park has more than 40 miles of multi-use trails that wind through woodland, hills, ravines and prairies. Mountain bikers are reminded that horses have the right-of-way on the trails.
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.
A 10-mile trail on the west side of Cedar Lake from north to south. Encircles Little Cedar Lake.
This 810 acre lake with a maximum depth of 90 feet and a 24-mile shoreline is part of the Crab Orchard Refuge. It is stocked with rainbow and brown trout and provides largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, bullheads, and carp. Boat ramps are available. Boats have a 10-horsepower limit. Camping is available.
Little Grassy Lake Campground and Marina is located on Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and is a destination stop for returning campers, boaters, and sportsmen. They offer full service camping, primitive camping, boat rentals, concessions, and a bait shop. Reservations accepted to reserve boats and campsites. Pontoon boats, fishing boats, and kayaks can be rented. You don't want to pass up the opportunities to explore the thirty miles of shoreline and embrace the solitude you will find on the lake. The 1200 acre lake is stocked with catfish, crappie, and bass, and offers plentiful oppourtunities for fishing, paddling, boating, and wildlife observation. Amenities include waterfront camping sites, remodeled bathrooms with hot showers, dump station, swimming, pets allowed, monthly educational programs and a renovated concession/bait shop which is stocked with minnows, crickets, camping supplies, cold beverages, food items, ice cream, firewood and ice.
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.
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.
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.
two miles of paved surface and 10 miles of aggregate surface. Jogging, walking, equestrian riding and biking permitted.
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.
The North Branch Trail stretches from Chicago to the northern suburbs. Starting at the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve it twists through 15 miles of small bluffs, ponds, prairie, open grassy parkways and quaint little streams that trickle into the Chicago River. Paved with asphalt, The North Branch Trail makes for an easy to medium level of difficulty.
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 downtown 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.
The Millennium Reserve stretches from downtown Chicago to the Indiana border and suburban Park Forest. It encompasses numerous neighborhoods, the Southeast lakefront, and 37 South suburban municipalities. In aggregate, the Reserve includes a collection of over 15,000 acres of open space such as trails, wetlands, and forest preserves; Making it ideal for runners, bikers and kayakers alike.
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.
Home to newly added in-line hockey rink. Sitting on 30 acres, five tennis courts, soccer field and basketball court, walking track 4 to 10 mile.
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.
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.
The Dakota Nature Trail for biking, hiking, and cross-county skiing links Dakota Park with the Dorothy Wirth Nature Area. The trail surface is crushed limestone and follows a former railroad right-of-way. The trail begins on Main Street in Dakota.
Rock Springs Center is the largest park in the Macon County Conservation District properties with a total of 1,343 acres in the southwest area of Decatur, IL. The Sangamon River runs through Rock Springs and several small ponds dot the landscape. A wide range of terrain including forest, wetland, grassland, and restored Illinois prairie make Rock Springs a destination for nature lovers. Rock Springs is also home to a large nature center, a museum, a restored farmhouse, nearly nine miles of hiking trails, and a paved bike trail. Rock Springs is a favorite for families all year round. Rooms and pavilions are available for rent for meetings and events.
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.
Enjoy 9,300 acres of great outdoor picnicking, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, water skiing. Fall foliage, winter offers ice fishing, snowmobiling on frozen lake. 308 campsites, Private marina.
Featuring 240 acres, Nature Center, parking, boat launches and Rock River access, fishing, hiking, nature preserve, cross-country skiing, shelters, grills, playground equipment, and more. Ronald Reagan saved 77 lives here as a lifeguard during his boyhood years.
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.
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.
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.
Bluffdale is an Illinois farm vacation dude ranch and bed & breakfast. Parent Magazine's "Top 10 Family Resorts in North America." Our family has been welcoming guests to our historic Illinois farm near Eldred, Illinois since 1963. Recreation activities include horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, hayrides, bonfires, sing-alongs and more. Bluffdale is famous for its generous home cooked meals with home baked bread, rolls and pies. Our luxury cabins, featuring a fireplace and hot tub, are ideal for romantic getaway weekend or honeymoon bed & breakfast lodging. Spring brings a wide variety of wildflowers and morel mushrooms. In fall the bluffs make a colorful drive and eagle watch from Alton to Bluffdale along the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway. Check our website for rates and availability.
Trails, fishing, cross-country skiing, skating, cabins on Willow Lake.
Two miles of beginner and intermediate hiking trails, educational signage teaches about tree and forestry practices. This forest is the perfect place to spend the day. Horses welcome!
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.
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 tree house. Each of the units, including the tree house, is equipped with a bathroom, kitchenette, heating and air conditioning. Physical Location: Karbers Ridge, IL 62955 GPS: 37°33’52.18?N 88°20’17.03?W
Affordable family lodging, cabins, campers and primitive camping. One cabin has kitchenette, covered shelter, air, tv/vcr, wood burning stove, electric and water shower available. One cabin has sleeping for six or more, electric, water, grill and shaded area. We have excellent walking and riding trails, 40 acres. Horses welcome. Lots of shaded areas for tent camping and fishing pond. We are minutes away from Ohio River, Tower Rock Park boat ramp, Elizabethtown boat ramp, good eating places, LakeTucumseh and Woopie Cat, Iron Furnace, Stone Face, Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, Cave-in-Rock and lots of scenic views. Children and pets welcome.
The Busse Woods Trail system is located within Ned Brown Forest Preserve, a 3,700-acre property in the western suburbs of Chicago. 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.
The Illinois Prairie Path was the first successful "rail-to-trail" conversion in the United States and inspired a national rail-to-trail movement in the United States in the mid-1960s. The trail is named for its rare segments of original, thousand year-old prairies. With 62 miles of biking, hiking, jogging, equestrian, and nature trails, this is an amazing natural resource that encompasses 4 towns: Elgin, Aurora, Batavia and Geneva and 3 counties. The surface is both asphalt and crushed stone.
A favorite of walkers and hikers, this park offers year-round camping and scenic hiking trails, many of them hugging Lake Shelbyville, Eagle Creek has 163 vehicular campsites, with 148 of those being Class A sites with electricity, picnic tables, and showers. There are 56 sites available by reservations made at least 2 weeks in advance by mail.
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.
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.
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.
This Nature Preserve offers 133 acres of oak and hickory woodlands, restored prairies and shallow streams. Over four miles of winding trails are great for hiking, running, cross-country skiing, nature study and quiet reflection. Facilities, which are available to rent, include the Mogle Learning Center with meeting space for 20 people and two picnic shelters.
This multi-use 17 mile recreational trail offers beautiful scenery and 21 decked bridges, including a covered bridge in Orangeville, passing wetlands, creeks, woods, prairies, geologic formations and farmland. The trail, named after Jane Addams, 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. The The tow miles of trail between the Wes Block Trail Access and Illinois 26 is an asphalt paved surface. The final two mile asphalt paved segment from Highway 26 to the Tutty's Crossing Trailhead on the riverfront in historic downtown Freeport will open in summer 2015. This segment crosses the 1885 Van Buren Street Bridge to the Old River School Historic District, the original north entryway into the City, and through historic downtown Freeport offering specialty shops, restaurants, a bicycle shop offering repairs, and more. At Tutty's Crossing, the Jane Addams Trail connects with the Pecatonica Prairie Trail currently under development between Freeport and Rockford. The Jane Addams Trail connects the Wisconsin state line to the Badger Trail which extends to Madison. Access to the trail is available at the West Block Access, 2636 W. Fairview Road, Freeport, at the Richland Creek Trailhead, 101 N. Ewing Street, Orangeville, at Cedarville Road, at Red Oak off of Beaver Road, and by mid-summer at Turry's Crossing in downtown Freeport. Trail Maps are available.
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, 3 miles of recreational paths, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, fishing, hiking, biking, a performance amphitheater, gardens, picnic areas, shelters, boat rentals, playgrounds including "Kid's Kastle", a carousel 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. Park attractions are open seasonally; call ahead to confirm availability of specific attractions.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hike or bike into Buehler Preserve from Galena and experience the prairie life! Pets welcome. Fishing is allowed.
This 260-acre timbered property provides public hunting areas, hiking and nature viewing.
230 acres for public hunting, hiking, nature viewing and an historic railroad tunnel.
Scenic biking and hiking along a six-mile trail featuring views of the Galena River and towering bluffs.
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 Accommodations. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The lush vegetation of the 2,430-acre Ferne Clyffe State Park, located near the small town of Goreville, hides the fact that directly below the soil, a vast area of rock formations exists. The two main areas for rock climbing include Big Rocky Hollow and the Cedar Bluff areas. Cedar Bluff offers both traditional and sport climbing, including several short, but difficult, routes in the class 12 to 13 range that appeal to experienced climbers. Other routes include top-rope access and solid anchors that appeal to new climbers.
Prehistoric dwellers left their marks on the rock walls. Petroglyphs depict animals, humans, geometric figures, and crosses.
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.
As a centerpeice of Pere Marquette State Park, the lodge and restaurant are an attraction for visitors from miles around. Visitors can spend a day at the park and explore the Great Room of the lodge, dine in the restaurant or even spend a night in a cozy lodge room or cabin. The centerpeice of the rustic timber 1930s Great Room is the 700 ton stone fireplace and life-size chess set. The Great Rooms beckons visitors to pull up a chair and a glass of wine with a view of the Illinois River. The Lodge restaurant is known for its family-style chicken dinner and season Sunday brunch buffets. Spend the afternoon or a weekend for an unforgettable experience.
A ridge that runs parallel to the Mississippi River. Offers spectacular views, but with a steep ascent and descent (not an easy hike).
Rollins Savanna Trails in beautiful Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve is a outdoor enthusiasts dream; with 5.7-miles of easy to moderate terrain and a thriving habitat to explore. The landscape is dotted with ponds and marshes. Take a walk through lush prairie and thriving wetlands and see why the National Audubon Society named it one of America’s most important bird sites in 2005.
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.
Sixteen-acre public lake located in southern Jo Daviess County. Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish. No boating. Sign in/out at the visitor parking lot. 350 acres for public hunting.
A part of the Apple River Canyon State Park Complex, the Iris and Jack Witkowsky State Wildlife Area is 1,100 acres for public hunting and nature viewing. Beginning of a transcontinental bluebird trail segment. Sign in/out at lots #1 or #4.
Experience Native American mounds, prairie and the Apple River. Hike beginner trails. Pets welcome. Fishing allowed.
280 acres for public hunting, hiking, nature viewing. Area has native hilltop prairies and views of the Mississippi River.
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.
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.
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.
Homer Lake Forest Preserve contains 892 acres for fishing, boating, hiking picnicking, cross-country skiing and sledding. Also available is an exciting Homer Lake Interpretive Center, which hosts thousands every year through programs like "Homer Lake Take Me Fishing" and the unique Natural Playscape.
Biking and running trails, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, sledding, outdoor ice skating, canoeing and rafting and fishing. The district office provides all information on preserves and issues picnic permits.
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.
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.
The 4,000-acre park extends along both sides of the Kankakee River offering unspoiled settings that are surrounded by scenic bluffs and woods. The park includes hiking trails, biking trails, canoeing, fishing, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobile trails, picnic areas, hunting, boat launches, and much more! In addition there are several shelters available for picnic events.
A facility of the Bourbonnais Township Park District, The Willowhaven Interpretive Center is a free hands-on museum that houses natural and historical exhibits, provides the community a place to learn, explore, and enjoy the splendors of nature! Displays focus on Illinois wildlife, conservation and natural history. The most popular displays include hands-on discovery tables with pelts, nests, feathers, tracks and more. The center also has live animal displays, aquariums, a children's reading nook, computer tables and a microscope lab table.
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.