Glacial Park is McHenry County Conservation District’s most treasured open space holding, characterized by its rolling prairie, delta kames, oak savanna and the tranquil presence of the meandering Nippersink Creek.
Encompassing over 3,400 acres, Glacial Park contains over 400 acres of dedicated nature preserve; harbors 40 state endangered and threatened plant and animal species; is listed as one of the top five areas to view migratory wetland birds in the region, and is a part of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge.
Glacial Park is the Conservation District’s most popular site, visited annually by more than 64,000 guests who hike or horseback along eight miles of trails; fish the shoreline of Nippersink Creek at Keystone Landing or Pioneer Road Landing…or bike a five-mile portion of the 26-mile Prairie Trail that skirts the eastern boundary of the park. In a place where wildlife viewing is plentiful, many spend time birding, picnicking or paddling the glistening waters of Nippersink Creek., a high-quality stream teeming with aquatic life — a place where numerous wetland waders and local wildlife also visit the water’s edge.
A day’s adventure includes a trip to the Lost Valley Visitor Center for a peek at changing exhibits, a stop in the Sandhill Study for trail maps, guide books, and activity pages, as well as update on upcoming featured programs, outdoor concerts or workshops. Glacial Park also allows plenty of do-it-yourself exploration opportunities including downloading the Glacial Park hiking app trekking the two-mile interpretive trail loop or using binoculars, guide books and viewing scopes on the outdoor treetop decks.
Gather your picnic and have lunch at the outdoor stone amphitheater, Kettle lot picnic area, or reserve the Harts Road Shelter for your group gathering. The Park is also rich in natural and cultural history; stop in at the historic Powers-Walker home during a special event or open house and get a glimpse of life in the late 1800s. When temperatures dip below freezing, outdoor adventures continue as visitors explore cross-country ski trails, nine miles of snowmobile trails, and a good old fashioned do-it-yourself-have fun sled hill.
The Lost Valley Visitor Center resides in the geographic center of Glacial Park. Visitors can enjoy self-guided visits through exhibits or sign up for a variety of staff-led educational programs. Self-guided Family Exploration Packs and interpretive trails guides are also available to enhance your hiking experience in Glacial Park. A research library houses historical maps, a database of ecological surveys, periodicals, books and soil and wetland maps.
The Research Field Station is located within the Lost Valley Visitor Center as well. Each year, a large college intern program gives students experience in ecological restoration land management, education exhibit construction, wildlife surveys, plant surveys and research. The Field Station also coordinates the Spirit of Conservation Program.
Not far from the Visitor Center is the Powers-Walker House. The Powers-Walker House is a rich educational and historical resource that is open for special events and programs throughout the year. By participating in these events, visitors gain insight to the early settlers’ connection to the land. Annual events include the Ice Cream Social of 1858, Archeological Awareness, and the Harvest Gathering of 1858.
3,412 acres | 5 Miles of Trails
6313 Harts Road, Ringwood
Sunrise to Sunset
Lost Valley Visitor Center
Daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Nov. 11, Nov. 24-25
Dec. 1-4; 24, 25, 31, & Jan. 1
N42 25.318 W88 18.067
Closed Dec. 1-4 for hunting.