Illinois River Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the Illinois River Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 8 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Illinois River Trail holds a significant place in the history of the state of Illinois. The trail follows the course of the Illinois River, which has been a vital transportation route for centuries. Native American tribes, such as the Illiniwek and the Miami, were among the first to utilize the river for trade and travel. They recognized the strategic importance of the river, which provided access to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

European explorers, including Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, ventured along the Illinois River in the late 17th century. Their exploration opened up the region to French fur traders, who established trading posts along the riverbanks. The French presence in the area continued until the 1763 Treaty of Paris, when the Illinois Country was ceded to the British.

During the early 19th century, the Illinois River became a crucial transportation route for settlers moving westward. Steamboats began navigating the river, carrying people and goods to the growing towns and cities along its banks. The river played a pivotal role in the development of Illinois as a state, facilitating trade and commerce.

In the mid-20th century, the Illinois River Trail gained further significance with the construction of the Illinois Waterway. This system of locks and dams allowed for the navigation of larger vessels, boosting the river’s importance as a transportation corridor. Today, the Illinois River Trail serves as a reminder of the historical significance of the river and its role in shaping the state’s development.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Starved Rock State Park: Located in Utica, Illinois, this popular state park offers access to the Illinois River Trail. The park has multiple trailheads, including the Visitor Center, Lodge, and various parking areas.

2. Matthiessen State Park: Situated near Oglesby, Illinois, Matthiessen State Park is another access point for the Illinois River Trail. The park features several trailheads, such as the Dells Area and the Vermilion River Area.

3. Buffalo Rock State Park: Located in Ottawa, Illinois, Buffalo Rock State Park provides access to the Illinois River Trail. The park has a trailhead near the Buffalo Rock Picnic Area.

4. Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge: Situated near Havana, Illinois, the Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge offers access to the Illinois River Trail. The refuge has a trailhead near the visitor center.

5. Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park: Located in Sheffield, Illinois, the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park has a trailhead that connects to the Illinois River Trail. This trailhead is near the Hennepin Canal Visitor Center.

6. LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area: Situated near Marseilles, Illinois, the LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area provides access to the Illinois River Trail. The area has a trailhead near the lake.

7. Dixon Waterfowl Refuge: Located in Hennepin, Illinois, the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge offers access to the Illinois River Trail. The refuge has a trailhead near the visitor center.

8. Pere Marquette State Park: Situated near Grafton, Illinois, Pere Marquette State Park provides access to the Illinois River Trail. The park has multiple trailheads, including the Visitor Center and various parking areas.

9. Emiquon Preserve: Located near Lewistown, Illinois, the Emiquon Preserve offers access to the Illinois River Trail. The preserve has a trailhead near the Emiquon Nature Preserve Visitor Center.

10. Merwin Nature Preserve: Situated near Pekin, Illinois, the Merwin Nature Preserve provides access to the Illinois River Trail. The preserve has a trailhead near the parking area.

Please note that trailheads and access points may vary, and it is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail organizations for the most up-to-date information.

Transportation Available

1. Illinois River Taxi – River taxi service offering scenic rides along the Illinois River.
2. Illinois River Shuttle – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation along the Illinois River Trail.
3. Illinois River Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the Illinois River Trail at your own pace.
4. Illinois River Kayak Tours – Guided kayak tours along the Illinois River Trail, showcasing the natural beauty of the area.
5. Illinois River Trail Bus – Bus service offering transportation to various points along the Illinois River Trail.
6. Illinois River Trail Horseback Riding – Horseback riding tours and rentals for a unique way to experience the Illinois River Trail.
7. Illinois River Trail Segway Tours – Segway tours providing a fun and efficient way to explore the Illinois River Trail.


The amenities available at the Illinois River Trail may vary depending on the specific location or section of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These restrooms can be either permanent structures or portable toilets.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas or lots near the trail where visitors can park their vehicles. These parking spaces may be free or require a fee, depending on the location.

3. Camping Sites: Some sections of the Illinois River Trail may offer designated camping sites for overnight stays. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, there may be designated picnic areas with tables, benches, and sometimes grills. These areas provide a scenic spot for visitors to enjoy a meal or relax.

5. Water Access: Depending on the specific location, the Illinois River Trail may provide access to the river for activities such as swimming, fishing, or boating.

6. Trailhead Facilities: At the beginning or end of the trail sections, there may be trailhead facilities that offer amenities such as information boards, maps, and sometimes visitor centers.

7. Interpretive Signs: Throughout the trail, there may be interpretive signs or educational displays that provide information about the natural and cultural features of the area.

8. Scenic Overlooks: Some sections of the trail may have designated viewpoints or scenic overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for specific information about the amenities available at the Illinois River Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Starved Rock Lodge – Historic lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the Illinois River Trail.
2. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort – Family-friendly resort with lodging options and dining facilities close to the trail.
3. Matthiessen State Park Campground – Campground with basic amenities located near the Illinois River Trail.
4. Ottawa Visitors Center – Information center providing details on nearby lodging, food services, and emergency services.
5. Casey’s General Store – Convenient store offering food and supplies near the trail.
6. Peru Mall – Shopping center with various dining options and emergency services nearby.
7. La Salle County Sheriff’s Office – Local law enforcement agency providing emergency services in the area.
8. Illinois Valley Community Hospital – Hospital offering emergency medical services close to the trail.
9. Ottawa Fire Department – Fire department providing emergency services in the vicinity.
10. Peru Police Department – Local police department offering emergency services near the Illinois River Trail.

Illinois River Trail Difficulty Notes

The Illinois River Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 20 miles, winding through diverse landscapes including lush forests, rocky terrain, and scenic river views. While the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, it does present some challenges such as steep inclines and uneven surfaces. Hikers should be prepared for occasional obstacles such as fallen trees or muddy sections, especially after heavy rainfall. Overall, the Illinois River Trail provides a rewarding and enjoyable experience for those seeking a moderate level of physical exertion and a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region.

Features And Attractions

1. Starved Rock State Park: Located near Utica, Starved Rock State Park offers stunning views of the Illinois River, as well as 18 canyons, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

2. Matthiessen State Park: Adjacent to Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park features beautiful rock formations, lush forests, and picturesque waterfalls.

3. Buffalo Rock State Park: Situated near Ottawa, Buffalo Rock State Park offers panoramic views of the Illinois River and features a large effigy mound shaped like a buffalo.

4. Peoria Riverfront: The Peoria Riverfront offers a scenic walkway along the Illinois River, with beautiful views of the city skyline, riverboats, and the Bob Michel Bridge.

5. Pere Marquette State Park: Located near Grafton, Pere Marquette State Park is known for its breathtaking views of the Illinois River from atop limestone bluffs. It also offers hiking trails, horseback riding, and birdwatching opportunities.

6. Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway: This 291-mile scenic byway follows the Illinois River, offering picturesque views of the river, farmlands, wetlands, and charming river towns.

7. LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area: Situated near Marseilles, LaSalle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and birdwatching, with scenic views of the lake and surrounding wetlands.

8. Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge: Located near Havana, Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 200 species of birds. It also offers beautiful views of the Illinois River and wetland habitats.

9. Ottawa Riverwalk: The Ottawa Riverwalk is a scenic pathway along the Illinois River, offering views of the river, marina, and historic downtown Ottawa.

10. Dixon Waterfowl Refuge: Situated near Hennepin, the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge is a nature preserve with wetlands, forests, and hiking trails. It provides opportunities for birdwatching and offers scenic views of the Illinois River.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pet and dispose of waste properly.
3. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
4. No hunting or trapping is allowed on the trail.
5. Bicycles are allowed on designated sections of the trail only.
6. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trail.
7. Camping is not permitted along the trail.
8. Fires are only allowed in designated fire pits or grills.
9. Do not damage or remove any plants, trees, or natural features.
10. Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
11. Observe seasonal restrictions, such as closures during hunting seasons.
12. Leave no trace – pack out all trash and litter.
13. Alcohol consumption is prohibited on the trail.
14. Respect private property boundaries and do not trespass.
15. Follow all posted signs and regulations.

Seasonal Information

The Illinois River Trail is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking views of the Illinois River and its surrounding landscapes. While the trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the most recommended times to visit the Illinois River Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, creating a picturesque and colorful scenery. The weather is generally mild, making it ideal for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the trail. Additionally, the river is often at its fullest during spring, providing a stunning backdrop for nature lovers and photographers.

Another great time to visit the Illinois River Trail is in the fall, particularly in September and October. As the leaves change colors, the trail transforms into a stunning display of reds, oranges, and yellows. The crisp autumn air adds to the charm, making it a perfect time for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, or even camping. Fall also brings fewer crowds compared to the summer months, allowing visitors to enjoy a more peaceful and serene experience on the trail.

It’s important to note that the Illinois River Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow or icy conditions, making it unsafe for visitors. It’s always recommended to check with local authorities or trail management before planning a visit during the winter season. Additionally, some areas of the trail may have closures or limited access during hunting seasons, typically in the late fall and early winter. Visitors should be aware of any hunting restrictions and plan their visit accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the Illinois River Trail.


1. Paved Pathways: The Illinois River Trail features paved pathways that are wheelchair accessible, providing smooth and easy navigation for individuals with mobility challenges.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and ample space for wheelchair maneuverability are provided along the trail.
4. Signage: Clear and visible signage with large fonts and Braille is installed along the Illinois River Trail, aiding individuals with visual impairments in navigating the trail.
5. Rest Areas: Wheelchair-accessible rest areas with benches and shaded seating are strategically placed along the trail, allowing individuals to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options are available, ensuring individuals with disabilities can enjoy outdoor dining experiences.
7. Trailhead Accessibility: The trailhead is designed to be accessible, featuring ramps, curb cuts, and smooth transitions to accommodate wheelchair users.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails are installed at appropriate locations along the trail, providing additional support and safety for individuals with mobility limitations.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are installed along the trail, allowing individuals to stay hydrated during their journey.
10. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available for individuals with visual impairments, providing audio descriptions and information about the trail’s points of interest.

Safety Information

1. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures or hazardous conditions before starting your hike.
2. Weather Awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions and dress accordingly.
3. Water Safety: Stay away from the river’s edge, as the current can be strong and unpredictable.
4. Wildlife Encounter: Respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance if you encounter any animals.
5. Poisonous Plants: Learn to identify and avoid contact with poison ivy, poison oak, and other harmful plants.
6. Tick Prevention: Apply insect repellent and wear long sleeves/pants to protect against ticks.
7. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
8. Hiking Buddy: It’s recommended to hike with a partner for safety and assistance if needed.
9. Trail Markings: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost.
10. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, extra water, and a map of the trail in case of emergencies.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out your trash and respecting the environment.
12. Trail Etiquette: Yield to other hikers, communicate with courtesy, and follow any posted rules or regulations.
13. Cell Phone Reception: Be aware that cell phone reception may be limited or unavailable in certain areas.
14. Time Management: Plan your hike according to daylight hours and allow enough time to complete the trail safely.
15. Physical Fitness: Assess your fitness level and choose a trail section that matches your abilities.
16. Emergency Contacts: Carry a list of emergency contacts and inform someone about your hiking plans.
17. Trail Maintenance: Report any trail damage or hazards to the appropriate authorities.
18. Camping Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any camping restrictions or permits required along the trail.
19. Water Crossing Safety: Use caution when crossing streams or rivers, and consider using trekking poles for stability.
20. Respect Private Property: Stay on designated trails and respect private property boundaries along the Illinois River Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Illinois River Trail, located in the state of Illinois, is a significant natural resource that requires conservation efforts to maintain its ecological integrity. The trail traverses through diverse habitats, including wetlands, forests, and prairies, providing a home to a wide range of plant and animal species. The conservation status of the Illinois River Trail is of utmost importance due to the threats posed by habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution.

Habitat loss is a major concern for the Illinois River Trail’s conservation status. The trail passes through areas that are susceptible to urban development and agricultural expansion. As a result, natural habitats are being fragmented and destroyed, leading to the displacement and decline of many native species. Efforts are being made to protect and restore these habitats, including the establishment of protected areas and the implementation of land-use regulations to prevent further degradation.

Invasive species also pose a significant threat to the conservation status of the Illinois River Trail. Non-native plants and animals can outcompete native species, disrupt ecological processes, and alter the overall balance of the ecosystem. Invasive species management programs are being implemented to control and eradicate these threats, ensuring the preservation of the trail’s biodiversity.

Furthermore, pollution, particularly from agricultural runoff and industrial activities, poses a serious challenge to the conservation of the Illinois River Trail. Excessive nutrient runoff, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can lead to harmful algal blooms, oxygen depletion, and the degradation of water quality. Efforts are being made to reduce pollution through the implementation of best management practices, such as buffer zones and water quality monitoring programs.

In conclusion, the conservation status of the Illinois River Trail is crucial to protect its diverse habitats and the species that depend on them. Habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution are significant challenges that require ongoing conservation efforts. By implementing effective management strategies and raising awareness about the importance of conservation, the Illinois River Trail can be preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

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