Moraine Hills State Park

Quick Facts

Moraine Hills State Park

Illinois

(815) 385-1624

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Moraine Hills derives its name from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier. As glacial ice melted here following the Wisconsin glaciation period, it left gravel-rich deposits called kames that make up the park's wooded hills and ridges.

In 1907, the original McHenry dam was built and a hand operated lock was constructed. The facilities were donated to the people of Illinois in 1924 and construction of a new concrete block dam began in 1934. In the early 1960s, a portion of the park property on the west bank of the Fox River was provided for the locks and managed by the Division of Water Resources. In 1939, the State of Illinois made the initial land acquisition of 15 acres for the McHenry Dam State Park, located on the east bank of the Fox River. Major acquisition of the Lake Defiance area began in 1971, and construction of park facilities took place in the spring of 1975. The present Moraine Hills opened in October 1976.

From angling to hiking, from viewing rare plants to observing migratory waterfowl, Moraine Hills State Park offers you a recreational bounty. Located in the northeast corner of Illinois, the park is 3 miles south of McHenry. McHenry Dam, on the Fox River, is on the park's western border. Roughly half of the park's 2,200 acres is composed of wetlands and lakes.

Map of Moraine Hills (IL)

Latitude, Longitude: 42.309232, -88.227979

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boat rentals are available for Lake Defiance and the Fox River on a first-come, first-served basis. While trailers are prohibited in the park, private boats may be brought in by car top for use on Lake Defiance and the Fox River. Watercraft must be registered with the State of Illinois. Electric trolling motors are allowed.

  • Bicycling

    More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for bikers and provide one of the park's main recreation features.

  • Fishing

    Fishing is available on both Lake Defiance and on the Fox River. Regulations are posted at both sites. To help preserve the natural state of Lake Defiance, and because of the dangerous peat shoreline, bank fishing is prohibited except from designated piers along the boardwalk. The McHenry Dam area provides access to the Fox River, and a fishing pier accessible to disabled visitors is available.

  • Hiking

    More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for hikers, skiers and cyclists, and provide one of the park's main recreation features. Three trails, surfaced with crushed limestone, wind their way through the park and offer you exceptional scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities. Enjoy the 2-mile Fox River Trail, the 3.2-mile Leatherleaf Bog Trail, and the 3.7-mile Lake Defiance Trail. To keep you on track, trails are color coded and one way.

  • Historic Sites

    Artifacts found on the park property indicate man's presence in the area within 1,000 years of the Wisconsin glacier's retreat. Seasonal habitation of the park area extends back to approximately 4,000 B.C. Native American tribes that occupied or passed through the area include the Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox and possibly the Miami and Winnebago. The Sauk and Fox tribes, originally from what is now Canada, claimed ownership of the land at the time of white settlement.

  • Hunting

    Shotgun deer hunting is now available on the 1,400 acres northeast of River Road. Hunting is by permit only.

  • Picnicking

    If your visit to Moraine Hills includes picnicking, you can choose from tables in shaded or open settings throughout the park's 10 day use areas. Each area offers parking, drinking water, and rustic toilet facilities. Flush toilets are available at the McHenry Dam concession building and at the park office. Pike Marsh, Pine Hills, Whitetail Prairie and the Northern Woods day use areas provide picnic shelters.

  • Winter Sports

    More than 10 miles of trails make Moraine Hills popular for skiers and provide one of the park's main recreation features.

Park Partners

Gill's

Bait and tackle shop, boat rental, and canoe guide trips available. Open 7 days a week from April until October.

(815) 385-5921

Directions

Driving

From the North: IL Rt. 12 south to Rt. 176, West on Rt.176 to River Road, North on River Road approx. 2 miles to entrance

From the South: IL Rt. 12 north to Rt. 176, West on Rt. 176 to River Road, North on River Road approx. 2 miles to entrance

From the East: Rt. 176 to River Road, North on River Road approx. 2 miles to entrance

From the West: IL Rt. 176 West to River Road, North on River Road approx. 2 miles to entrance

Phone Numbers

Primary

(815) 385-1624

Links