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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
Winnebago County Forest Preserve District
There are 41 individual forest preserves for the purpose of protecting the natural beauty of Winnebago County, as well as for education and recreation. The forest preserves provide over 9,700 acres of property for the use and enjoyment of the general public. Lush woods, picturesque streams, dramatic cliffs and dells, unspoiled prairies and native wildlife are treasures to be enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages. Hiking, camping, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, bird watching and cross-country skiing are recreational activities available at sites throughout the county.
Lakewood Resort and Gardens
Sportsman's paradise. Permanent wooded seasonal sites, tent camping. Acres of remote backpacking. Guided deer hunting (archery only), turkey hunt.
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.
Shabbona Lake State Park
Shabbona Lake State Park has 1,550 acres of rolling prairie and features a 318 acre man-made fishing lake. Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area provides a convenient, natural haven from the hustle and bustle of daily life. With facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and winter sports, Shabbona Lake is a convenient and comfortable retreat where you can refresh and reinvigorate yourself in a rare, unspoiled environment.
Mautino State Fish and Wildlife Area
Encompasses 871 acres of mostly unreclaimed strip-mining land. The area is dotted with some 15 stocked lakes for fishing. Be aware that shore access is limited and that shorelines tend to drop off suddenly into deep water.
Hennepin Feeder Canal Trail
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.
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.
Chain O' Lakes State Park
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.
CITY: Spring Grove
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
Apple River Canyon State Park - Thompson/Salem Units
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.
Red Hills State Park
Located on Rt. 50 between Lawrenceville and Olney, this State Park features fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, horse trails and camping in a semi-secluded setting. This 950-acre site offers wooded hills, picturesque meadows, nature areas and an abundance of wildlife.
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.
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.
Matthiessen State Park
Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing and more in this state park known for its waterfalls, bluffs and canyons.
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.
Matthiessen State Park - Cross Country Skiing
Five miles of scenic trails amidst a spectacular geological backdrop enable hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, runners and cross-country skiers to experience a peaceful jaunt through the park, while families congregate around fully-equipped, shaded picnic areas neighboring playgrounds, trailheads and 17th-Century restored French fort.
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.
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.
Snakeden Hollow State Fish and Wildlife Area
Features exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities. The 112 water impoundments offer large-mouth and small-mouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead, rainbow and brown trout for fishing. Seasonal restrictions and limited access may apply.
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.
Southern Illinois Wine Trail
Illinois' newest wine trail connects six wineries dotted throughout the southeast corner of the state. Visitors can enjoy both breathtaking vistas and friendly rural communities, all while sampling excellent red and white wines.
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.
Wolf Creek State Park
Eight miles northwest of Windsor, Wolf Creek State Park encompass 11,100 acres of water, 250 miles of shoreline and large tracts of carefully maintained indigenous woodlands ideal for camping, horseback riding, snowmobiling, boat fishing, water skiing, pontoon boating, windsurfing or just plain bobbing and drifting on the glittering expanse of the lake itself. In addition to visiting the small, friendly wooded campgrounds or taking part in the action on the lake, swimming is available from the beach. You can also take a leisurely stroll through nearby forests. An abundance of deer, pheasant, rabbits, wild turkey and songbirds are almost always visible.
Rock Island Trail State Park
The Rock Island Trail provides 27 miles for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. One of the premier rails-to-trails facilities in Illinois, this trail is a sure-fire winner for the entire family.
Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area
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.
Illinois Beach State Park
Stretching leisurely for 6 1/2 miles along the sandy shore of Lake Michigan, this 4160-acre park is recognized for its geological structure, unique flora, spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities for swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, biking,