Silver Creek

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840 acres | 5 miles of trails

Site Hours
Open Daily Sunrise to Sunset (Some sites are subject to Seasonal Closures or closures due to special circumstances).

1009 Rawson Bridge Road, Cary

Register for a program or event at Prairieview Education Center.

Trail Map

Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages can hike or cross-country ski along seven miles of looped nature trails that wind through wide expanses of open prairie, into the savanna, along the wetlands and to the banks of the Fox River. Dogs are welcome on trails on a leash.  Cast a line into the 1.5 acre pond and test your luck at hooking a bluegill or largemouth bass. The prairie, savanna and wetlands of Silver Creek Conservation Area allow for ample bird-watching opportunities. Watch for year-round residents such as Northern Cardinals, Redbellied Woodpeckers, and Black-capped Chickadees as well as Eastern Bluebirds, Meadowlarks, Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, and an occasional Bald Eagle.

The landscape view highlights a mixture of native grasses and colorful wildflowers, including compass plants, coneflowers, and many species of asters. The woodlands and savannas feature grand oak and hickory trees that invite a wide variety of songbirds, hawks, and owls to fly among the branches while deer, coyote and an occasional red fox travel below. Sedge meadows and fens located along Silver Creek, within a designated Illinois Nature Preserve, provide habitat for saturated soil loving plants such as marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage, as well as a number of species of frogs, salamanders, snakes and turtles.

The scenic backdrop of Silver Creek Conservation Area is also home to  the Prairieview Education Center that serves hundreads of McHenry County residents each year through participation in free or low-cost nature interpretation programs, summer camps, school field studies, scout programs and other guided activities. 

In 1836 Corneillious Behan and his wife traveled by covered wagon from Boston to settle on 640 acres along the Fox River in McHenry County. He floated wood down the river from McHenry to build his home. The Behans had three children. His son Hippoleatus Behan was known to build boats on the adjacent Forbes farm in the late 1800s. Through the years, the land Corneillious had worked so hard clearing with oxen, was passed down and divided. At some point, while leading a team of horses across the river, a young colt got caught in the reins and was pulled under the water; Corneillious tried to save the colt, but also got pulled under and lost his life.

In 1945 Otto and Hazel Rhoades owned this parcel. Otto Rhoades was the founder and president of the former Sun Electric Company in Crystal Lake. Otto and his wife built themselves an elaborate 7,500 square foot home and a state of the art barn on the property. The elaborate home still stands and is now Prairieview Education Center. In 1993 McHenry County Conservation District purchased the property, which included over 1,000 acres of both upland wetland ecosystems, and access to the Fox River. The District redesigned the home to meet the need for an environmental educational center in the southeast quadrant of the county where the population was growing rapidly. The building was added on to and remodeled, but much of the exterior remains intact as it did when the Rhoades family lived here.