Chain O' Lakes State Park Trail


Elevation Gain514ft
Trailhead Elevation810ft
Elevation Min/Max767/874ft
Elevation Start/End810/810ft

Chain O' Lakes State Park Trail

Chain O' Lakes State Park Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Lake County and McHenry County, Illinois. It is 3.2 miles long and begins at 810 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 514 feet. This trail connects with the following: Gold Finch Trail.

Chain O' Lakes State Park Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The Fox River flows along the edge of the park, and the first of the three loops in this hike passes right along its banks before crossing through wetlands and prairie to a higher path along prairie grass and savanna bluffs with nice views out over the park. The third loop takes a turn through the woods and brings you back across those hills again."

"One of the best places in Illinois to find breeding Sandhill Cranes is at Chain O’ Lakes State Park, which provides the unique habitat this bird needs— marshes adjoining upland oak woods. The park also provides habitat for one of the only two nesting colonies of Forster’s Terns in the state. These rare Illinois birds along with some 200 other birds have been documented at Chain O’ Lakes.

As you enter the park, check the prairie, which sometimes holds breeding Bobolinks as well as feeding Sandhill Cranes, especially during migration. Northern Harriers sometimes hunt here as well. Best times to bird: Spring and fall migration and early in breeding season. This eTrail provides detailed information on birding strategies for this specific location, the specialty birds and other key birds you might see, directions to each birding spot, and helpful general information."

"Chain O’ Lakes is full of natural treasures. The riches within the eastern section of the 6,023-acre park include expansive wetlands, gently rolling prairies, pleasant wooded areas, and a peaceful stretch of the Fox River—all accessed by a well-designed trail system.

While there are numerous places to start this hike, I recommend dropping in at the section near the park office—the office is easy to find and provides sweeping views of the prairie, savanna, woods, wetland, and the Fox River in the distance. Once you find the trail on the east side of the parking lot, take it to the right for a counterclockwise hike, saving the majority of the secluded areas and the river for the last leg."

Chain O' Lakes State Park Trail Reviews

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Trail Information

Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
Boat Launch/Ramp, Boating, Hunting, Camping
Additional Use
DeLorme Illinois Atlas and Gazetteer
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018