Nestled on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, Illinois Beach State Park offers a range of recreation choices in a scenic natural setting. Encompassing 4,160 acres, the park consists of two separate areas split between the north and south ends of the park, providing plenty of opportunities for boating, picnicking, swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, and wildlife spotting. Nearby Illinois Beach State Park hotels let you make the most of this natural area, the last beach ridge shoreline in the state.
Best Hiking Trails in Illinois Beach State Park
The park's many trails take hikers through a charming landscape with views of wetlands, woodlands, dunes, and prairies. Illinois Beach State Park cabins are a great base from which to take advantage of the park's ample hiking opportunities for visitors of all levels.
1. Dead River Trail
This 2.2.mi. trail in the park's south unit is mostly gravel, and one of the narrowest trails in the park. It passes through wetlands, between a dune area and the so-called dead river, a stream surrounded by sandbars.
2. The Inland Trail
This sparsely-visited trail in the north unit extends through a wooded stretch, so it's an ideal option for a leisurely walk. The park's beaches also offer some of the best hiking and walking opportunities here.
3. The Dunes Trail
Only accessible by foot traffic, bikes were allowed on this trail in the past, but at present, only hiking is allowed. You can also access the beach from this trail.
Best Family Activities in Illinois Beach State Park
Illinois Beach State Park cabins offer a great way to relax and enjoy a range of family-friendly activities at this park, whether you're seeking low-key beach time or looking for a more active vacation, full of hiking, boating, fishing, and other outdoor pastimes.
Visitors will find many inland fishing ponds, although fishing is not permitted in the park's nature preserve. Sand Pond offers a limited mobility-accessible fishing pier. No matter where you choose to start angling, keep in mind that a fishing licence is required.
llinois Beach State Park offers ample picnic grounds with tables, including a picnic shelter accessible by those with limited mobility.
Swimming in the park is always a favorite in warm weather, thanks to ample sandy shoreline. Just keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty.
For an active day out on the trails, bring your gear and hit Zion Bike Trail, which connects the north and south units of the park, letting you easily take in a range of natural sights from two wheels.
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