Over the past 10 years numerous site and recreational improvements have been added on District sites including hiking/nature trails, picnic shelters, bike trails, ADA accessible trails and facilities, fishing access, fire rings, scenic outlooks, fishing piers, and updated restrooms and parking areas.
These sites include: Boger Bog, Bull Valley; North Branch, Richmond; Kishwaukee Corridor County Line Road Access, Marengo; An improved Nippersink Canoe Base, Spring Grove; Kishwaukee Headwaters, Woodstock; the H.U.M. Trailhead, Marengo; Lake in the Hills Fen Conservation Area, LITH; High Point, Harvard; Winding Creek, Hebron; the West Entrance to Fel Pro RRR, Cary; the McConnell Road Entrance to Dufield Pond, Woodstock; Boone Creek, Bull Valley, Coral Woods, Marengo and Harrison Benwell, Wonder Lake. ADA building renovations were completed at Brookdale Administrative Offices, Woodstock and Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake. The District also celebrated the opening of the Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Ringwood.
In addition 9 miles of regional trails were added (H.U.M. Trail – Union to Marengo; Stone Mill Trail – Harvard to Chemung; Phase I and II of Ridgefield Trace – Woodstock to Crystal Lake and the North Branch link – Prairie Trail to Hebron Trail), as well as 20 miles of additional hiking trails, 10 picnic areas/shelters and 3 fishing access locations.
Most Recent Site Openings / Improvements
Ridgefield Trace Phase III— Crystal Lake to Woodstock Regional Trail – Opened late Fall 2016
The northwest route runs 4.5 miles from McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, along Route 14 to Lake Ave. in Woodstock. (Completed Late Fall 2016). A second 1.76 mile section travels east from the college and loops back. A third section travels 1.5 miles from Oak St. in Crystal Lake eastbound to Walkup Rd. to connect through Veteran Acres Park and link with the District’s Prairie Trail. (Completed Fall 2016)
Under construction: Section two and three of Ridgefield trace currently do not connect and are divided due to an active railroad crossing that has yet to receive approval for a secure crossing. The District continues to work for solutions and funding to complete this link. The project is currently in the engineering phase. (Winter 2017).
Harrison Benwell, Wonder Lake – Harrison Benwell Improvements TRAIL_Realignment
The District’s oldest acquisition and the first site to open to the public in 1973, Harrison Benwell will be underwent improvements during the summer of 2016: the entrance drive and parking lot were reconfigured to accommodate additional parking spaces, updated benches, kiosk, recycling station and visitor signage will be installed, as well as the addition of a bike rack and rain garden. The trail system loops were also shifted away from wet areas and sensitive plant communities.
Brookdale Multi-Use Trail – Opened June 4, 2015 – A 4.25 mile multi-use hiking and horseback riding trail was added to the trail network at Brookdale Conservation Area in Woodstock. The trail crosses Paulson Rd., runs between woodlands and agricultural field with a short loop and longer loop around a small pond.
Boone Creek Conservation Area, Bull Valley
Opened June 22, 2013- The Boone Creek Conservation Area, is a 633 acre site located between Rt. 120, Bull Valley Rd., and Cold Springs Rd. in Bull Valley. The site helps to protect the valuable natural resources of Boone Creek and its headwater stream system. The new site plan offers an array of recreational opportunities including hiking, picnicking, birding, and horseback riding. The property was purchased in part by an IDNR Open Lands Trust Grant Program.
Dufield Pond Conservation Area – South Entrance
11418 McConnell Rd., Woodstock
Opened August 14, 2013 – The new south entrance offers visitors a beautiful .75 mile hike through oak woodlands and a completely different perspective of the lake.
Fox Bluff Conservation Area Final Master Plan
Cary Algonquin and Cold Springs Roads, along the Fox River
Fox Bluff Conservation Area is a 273-acre complex located along Cary-Algonquin and Cold Springs Roads in Cary. The northern portion opened to the public in 2004 and provided public access for hiking, picnicking and access to the Fox River. The southern portion of the site includes the former 116-acre Camp Algonquin which closed in 2011. The natural resources throughout the property include woodlands, wetlands, fens, wet prairies and 3,530 linear feet of shoreline along the Fox River. The topography is steep with varying slopes and ravines.
Highlights of the Final Master Plan for the entire Fox Bluff complex include improved public access to the Fox River, roughly five miles of additional hiking trails, canoe/kayak launches, improved fishing access and the protection and restoration of the significant natural resources.
In addition the proposed plan will recognize the long and diverse past peoples, families and features associated with Camp Algonquin through historical markers, interpretive signage and points of interest. Also included is the potential to re-purpose four former camp buildings; the Board of Trade Recreation Hall for public assembly/rentals; the Pioneer Center Barn to accommodate a welcoming facility/warming house/trailhead for Nature Play Area; the Ritz cabin and the Tribune building.
Final Master Plan for Fox Bluff Conservation Area – Approved 6/18/15
|Fox Bluff Master Plan Final Closeup|
|Fox Bluff Master Plan Final Phase 2|
SITES OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
1973 Harrison Benwell
1973 Beck’s Woods
1974 Marengo Ridge
1974 Rush Creek
1975 Glacial Park
1981 Hickory Grove
1981 Nippersink Canoe Trail
1982 Thomas Woods Campground
1986 Piscasaw North
1987 The Hollows
1987 Prairie Trail South
1988 Prairie Trail North
1988 Coral Woods
1992 Wiedrich Education Center
1993 Wildlife Resource Center
1999 Entire 26-mile Prairie Trail
1999 Prairieview Education Center
2000 Stickney Run
2000 Exner Marsh
2001 Silver Creek
2003 Hebron Trail
2003 Research Field Station
2004 Dufield Pond
2004 Marengo Ridge Campground
2004 Fox Bluff
2005 Pleasant Valley
2005 Elizabeth Lake west side
2006 H.U.M. Trail
2007 Elizabeth Lake east side
2007 County Line Road Access
2008 Boger Bog
2008 North Branch
2009 Stone Mill Trail
2009 Ridgefield Trace
2010 Nippersink Canoe Base improvements
2010 Kishwaukee Headwaters
2010 Lost Valley Visitor Center
2011 Lake in the Hills Conservation Area
2011 High Point
2011 Winding Creek
2012 Fel Pro-RRR West Entrance
2013 Brookdale ADA Improvements
2013 Prairieview ADA Improvements
2013 Ridgefield Trace Phase II
2013 Boone Creek
2013 Dufield Pond South Entrance
2014 Coral Woods Improvements
2014 Harrison Benwell Improvements
2015 Brookdale Multi-use Trail