Moraine Hills State Park

Located in the northeast of Illinois, Moraine Hills State Park is more than just hiking or angling. The state park is likewise an outstanding place to observe migratory waterfowl and view rare plants.

You will find McHenry Dam on the park’s western border, and lakes and wetlands compose about half of the 2,200 acres land area of the park. This is one of the reasons why the park is an incredible recreational bounty.


Things To Do In Moraine Hills State Park

The 16,725-acre park is disguised by sparkling waters, lush forests, and rolling hills. Swimmers, bikers, hikers, and boaters consider this park as an incredible outdoor destination.

Whether it is your first time or not to visit this fantastic state park, below are the top outdoor activities you can try out.

Hiking, Skiing, and Cycling 

Moraine Hills State Park offers more than 10 miles of trails that cyclists, skiers, and hikers will enjoy. 

You can choose from the three trails: 3.7-mile Lake Defiance Trail, 3.2-mile Leatherleaf Bog Trail, and 2-mile Fox River Trail. These trails are surfaced with crushed limestone and offer wildlife and gorgeous scenic opportunities.


While private watercraft are prohibited, you can take advantage of the rental boats. You can also go for electric trolling motors. 


If you are into picnicking when visiting a park, Moraine Hills State Park provides beautiful picnic spots. You can choose whether you want a table in a open or shaded setting. Each area comes with a rustic toilet, drinking water, and parking facilities.

You can find flush toilets at the park office and McHenry Dam concession. The Northern Woods, Whitetail Prairie, Pine Hills, and the Pike Marsh day-use areas offer picnic shelters.


Other Highlights of Moraine Hills State Park Visit 

Park Store 

The state park offers two concession stands, one on the park office’s lower level and another at the McHenry Dam. Both feature bait, tackle, boat rentals, and refreshments.

The Lake Defiance Concession opens from Mondays through sundays and on holidays, while McHenry Dam is open on weekdays from April until October. The opening hours and days of these concessions depend on the weather condition.


This park is a home to a wide array of wildlife. Racoon, opossum, mink, eastern cottontail, white-tailed deer, coyote, and red fox inhabit the park. Besides, you can also find over 100 species of bird.

Green and blue herons feed in the marsh areas during summertime. This park is also used by various migratory waterfowl, including Canada geese, wood ducks, teal, and mallards.

Rare Plants 

Pike Marsh is where you can find plenty of rare plants. This 115-acre in the park’s southeast corner supports one of the state’s colonies of pitcher plants. The park’s outer fen area includes hoary willow, dwarf birch, Kalm’s lobelia, and Ohio goldenrod, while its interior includes bulrushes and cattails.

Are you ready to explore Moraine Hills State Park? You will surely have a great time visiting this park. 

Are you ready to plan your next beach destination getaway? Go visit Peterson Park Beach.

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