Chain O’Lakes State Park | Cook County Forest Preserves | Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area (Wilmington) | Kankakee River State Park | Moraine Hills State Park | Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area | William W. Powers State Recreation Area | Volo Bog State Natural Area | Other Areas to Explore | Outfitters
RIVER: Fox River
WHAT TO DO: Hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and horseback riding
ADDRESS: 8916 Wilmot Road, Spring Grove, IL 60081 847/587-5512
Coursing along the Fox River, Chain O’ Lakes park is home to some of Illinois’ best aquatic recreation opportunities. Characterized by its 7 chief lakes, the park offers a fun and variable current for canoeists and kayakers, with broader bodies for enthusiasts as well and on site boat rentals. Boats may launch for no charge, and the lakes are under no horsepower restrictions. With almost 250 campsites (151 Class A, 87 Class B/S) and three Rent-A-Cabins, Chain O’ Lakes offers plenty of lodging on top of excellent fishing for a variety of species. Unique to the park is American Lotus, blooming on Grass Lake it is a summer visitor favorite. The 8.5 miles of foot trails and 8 miles of equestrian trails,along with horse rentals available on site for trail rides and hay tours, make the park a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors.
RIVERS: Access to Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers
WHAT TO DO: Boating, fishing, picnicking, and hiking
ADDRESS: 536 North Harlem Ave, River Forest, IL 60305 800/870-3666
Boasting an extensive network of parks around Cook County, CCFP offers several bastions of nature in the densely populated, urban Cook County. With six nature centers, a multitude of lakes, trails, and more, the CCFP offers a vast amount of recreation activites throughout Cook County.
RIVER: Access to Kankakee River
WHAT TO DO: Hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, horseback riding, dog training, and hand trapping
ADDRESS: 24621 N. River Rd, Wilmington, IL 60481 815/423-5326
Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area offers something for everyone! The natural prairie land, Kankakee River boat-access, fully-equipped picnic areas, and fishing on both the Milliken Lake and Kankakee River are wonderful ways to enjoy the warmer months outdoors. There is also a 12 mile equestrian trail open mid-April through October and dog training happening throughout the year. The sportsmen may also enjoy the park’s hand-trap ranges, an archery range, and hunting- by- permit only.
RIVER: Access to Kankakee River
WHAT TO DO: Biking, camping, canoeing, cross-country skiing, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and snowmobiling
ADDRESS: 5314 West Rt. 102, Bourbonnais, IL 60914 815/933-1383
NEARBY SUPPLIES: Seasonal concessionaire, contact park directly for availability. State Park Stables offer horse rentals, tours and rides–815/802-2050
Excellent canoeing, great fishing, beautiful scenery, and extensive class A, B, and C campgrounds comprise the beautiful Kankakee River State Park. Running over a 4,000 acre stretch of the Kankakee River, the park is a gem of natural wonder and outdoor recreation. Canoeists enjoy the fast-paced river, while boaters and anglers are offered extensive opportunities to catch a diverse array of species. Horse and snowmobile trails are open seasonally, as is a concessionaire and bicycle trail. The site also offers a year-round interpretive program, available by appointment.
RIVER: Fox River
WHAT TO DO: Biking, boating, fishing, hiking, and cross-countryskiing
ADDRESS: 1510 S. River Road, McHenry, IL 60051 815/385-1624
Located in the northeastern corner of Illinois, Morain Hills State Park is just 3 miles south of McHenry. Biking, hiking, and skiing are popular activities on the more than 10 miles of trails within the park. Nearly half of the park’s 2,200 acres are wetlands or lakes making it a haven for wildlife and plant diversity. Highlights of the spectacular park include 48-acre Lake Defiance, one of the few undeveloped glacial lakes in Illinois, and Pike Marsh which is home to many of the park’s rarest plants. Fishing and boating are allowed on both the Fox River and Lake Defiance. Shotgun deer hunting is available by permit only on 1,400 acres northeast of River Road.
RIVER: Fox River
WHAT TO DO: Hiking, boating, fishing, camping,and hunting
ADDRESS: 13608 Fox Road, Yorkville, IL 60560 630/553-6297
The glistening waters within Silver Springs State Fish and Wildlife Area give it its name and draw visitors during even the coldest months of the year. The area is home to a number of manmade lakes as well as a portion of the Fox Lake, which offers fisherman a range of catch. Canoeing, picnicking, and hiking on the scenic 4-mile trail, and horseback riding are popular summertime activities. Winter sports, hunting, and Youth Group camping are also available during their respective seasons.
RIVER: Wolf Lake
WHAT TO DO: Hunting, fishing, boating, and picnicking
ADDRESS: 12949 Avenue O, Chicago, IL 60633 773/646.3270
In 1947, 160-acres of land were acquired by the state and became known as the Wolf Lake State Recreation Area. That has now been increased to an area of 580 acres, of which 419 acres are water. Picnic tables and stoves are available as well as four shelters which can be reserved at Reserveamerica.com. Largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill and more can be fished, and when the ice is thick enough ice fishing is also allowed. Motors of any size are allowed on the lake and waterfowl hunting can be done from authorized blinds.
RIVER: No access
WHAT TO DO: Cross country skiing, hiking, hunting,and picnicking
ADDRESS: 28478 W. Brandenburg Road, Ingleside, IL 60041 815/344-1294
One of two available trails, the Volo Bog Interpretive Trail is a half-mile loop through the center of the bog. Designed only for hikers, the trail displays to visitors each stage of bog succession and detailed trail brochures available for each season. The Tamarack View Trail is a slightly longer, 2.75-miles, for hiking and cross-country skiing. The trail moves around the park and allows visitors a chance to see the bog from overhead as well as the diversity surrounding the central location.
●Bliss Woods Forest Preserve – Blackberry Creek, Fox River (Sugar Grove)
●Campton Forest Preserve – Mill Creek, Fox River (Campton)
●Deer Grove Forest Preserve – Buffalo Creek, Des Plaines River (Palatine)
●Hannaford Woods Forest Preserve – Blackberry Creek, Fox River (Nottingham Woods)
●Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve – Otter Creek, Fox River (St. Charles)
●Lone Grove Forest Preserve – East Branch Big Rock Creek, Fox River (Kaneville)
●Ned Brown Forest Preserve – Salt Creek, Des Plaines River (Elk Grove Village)
●Nelson Lake Marsh Forest Preserve – Lake Run, Fox River (Batavia)
●Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve – Fox River (Carpentersville)
Canoe and Kayak Rentals
C & M Canoe Rental (Ottawa)
Chicagoland Canoe Base (Chicago)
Freeman Sports (Fox River – Yorkville)
Northwest Passage (sea kayaking – Wilmette)
Schmidt’s Canoeing Service (Fox and Kishwaukee Rivers, and Nippersink Creek – Elgin)