6,023 acres to experience rolling moraine hill topography. An entrance leading you into wild flower prairies, wide eyed views and rich regional wetlands. Plus peaceful lakes and hiking trails too' makes Chain-O-Lakes State Park of North Eastern Illinois a great bike camping trip. Not to mention it's ease of access from Chicago.
A nearly continuous bike trail from the heart of Chicago leads to Chain-O-Lakes State Park. It's comprised of the Madison and Jackson bike lanes, the Fox River Trail, the Illinois Prairie Path, and the McHenry County Prairie Trail. There are also 3 train stations nearby varying in distance from the park. Giving your weekend multiple options to arrive to this unique landscape.
Chain-O-Lakes is located in northeast Illinois in both McHenry and Lake Counties and became a state park in 1945 when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O'Lakes Conservation Area, and was incorporated into the state park in 1957.
Campsites and Lodging: With more than 230 campsites, three cabins, and a youth group camp area, there are plenty of campsites even during peak season. Electric sites costs about $25 dollars and non-electric sites are $12 dollars. The non-electric sites are a little more secluded from each other by a small wooded buffer. There are also 3 simple cabins, each accommodating up to 6 persons. (Two bunk beds in one room and a large twin in other room). Be sure to reserve a month or two ahead of time for the cabins. The cabins are also heated which is a nice treat for those autumn and early spring rides. *Note: you do have to provide/bring along your own bedding. (A sleeping bag will suffice).
Activities within the park: It’s highly recommended to pedal from camp to go hike the goldfinch and badger trails. Here you'll get to experience the Illinois tallgrass prairie that once dominated much of this region. Mixed with wet land habitats, wide open spaces, and moraine valley views really makes for a great weekend escape. For a Chicagoan, seeing their first wild turkey or Quail in the wild is can be a personal highlight and it's a high probability.
It provides for an interesting backdrop for one to learn and explore it’s rich history and topography.
Amenties: The Park has large heated bathrooms with showers in desinated areas as well smaller old school out houses located throughout the park. Each campsite comes with a picnic table and fire pit. Tthe fire pits do have a grill that can be raised and lowered to heat up a victory meal.
*Cycling Fire wood Tip: The State Park's on site concession stand carries fire wood and small supplies for your cycling campfire needs. If you are arriving after 6 pm on a Saturday (after concession stand hours) there is a service/convenient store that also stocks bundles of wood which fit snuggly into your crate or on your rack. The store is located 1.5 miles outside the state park main entrance on Route 173. They also carry an assortment of supplies from camp snacks, drinks, fresh-food, bags of ice, hats, hoodies, t-shirts and more.
Available Train Stations Nearby
> Crystal Lake Metra Train Station: 21 miles south of the park. This route follows along the Prairie Trail bike path and relaxed county roads. You'll be granted with wide eyed views as you ride through and visit Glacier Park along the way to the State Park)
> Zion Metra Train Station: About 35 miles east of the park. This option provides cycling the Wisconsin back country roads. An added benefit, you get to ride through a second State Park when getting off at this stop by travelling through it's north end.
Glacier Park, Small charming town of Richmond, Blarney's Island, Kc's Cabin Bar and Grill.
Upon Your Visit:
Celebrate this native landscape. Become an ambassador of it. Do your part to stay on the establish trails and respect the outstanding stewardship done by the volunteers and Forest Rangers. To really enjoy what all this park can offer, plan for a full day stay to hike it's many trails.
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