75 acres | 1.6 miles of trail
Open Daily Sunrise to Sunset (Some sites are subject to Seasonal Closures or closures due to special circumstances).
7055 McCullom Lake Road, Wonder Lake
Oak and hickory savannas and a small meandering stream make this a favorite site for hikers. The natural communities alternate between wet-mesic silt loam prairie and dry-mesic silt loam savanna. A picnic shelter at the beginning of the trailhead can be rented for large gatherings, and picnic groves are available along both sides of the creek. The 1.6 mile winding trail features both a north and south loop, and provides opportunities for cross-country skiing during the winter months.
Harrison Benwell is one of the District’s oldest sites, and was one of the first properties acquired and the first site to open to the public in 1973. In the fall of 1983, the Conservation District received a grant for the development of the site from the Illinois Department of Conservation, Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965. A master plan for the site was approved in 2011 to guide further development and restoration efforts.
Historical plat maps dating back to the early 1800’s show numerous different owners of land parcels, which now comprise the Harrison Benwell
Conservation Area. Records show the Conservation District acquired the 74.67 acre Charles parcel on July 31, 1973 from Stanley and Yvonne B. Charles and Allen R. and Winifred B. Dimon. The Conservation District received a grant for the development of the site in September/October of 1973 from the Illinois Department of Conservation, Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965.