Traveling Tuesday – White Pines Forest State Park

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White Pines Forest State Park is an Illinois state park in Ogle County, Illinois, which is a 385 acre park that contains the southernmost remaining stand of native white pine trees in the state of Illinois designated an Illinois Nature preserve in 2001.  The park contains two freshwater streams, dolomite rock formations and a variety of activities generally associated with Illinois state parks.
Among the park’s most distinctive and well known features are the vehicular river crossings.  At three places, crossing Pine Creek, fords were constructed instead of bridges.  The fords offer visitors a chance to actually drive through the creek, though high water frequently closes the crossings.  Hikers are relegated to pedestrian bridges or stepping stones in the creek to cross the stream.  Floods are frequent enough on Pine Creek, a large watershed to the north of the park, that there is an emergency exit from the campground.  When high water closes the fords, the campground is cut off and the emergency exit is the only way out.
The banks of Pine Creek and Spring Creek are lined with large rock and cliff formations that provide habitat to plants ranging from large trees to moss to hanging vines.  The forest undergrowth provides small mammal habitats and among the mammals that can be seen include red squirrels, raccoons, deer and chipmunks.  The creeks are populated with smallmouth bass, rock bass, channel catfish and , when they are stocked by the IDNR, rainbow trout.
The park is Illinois’ third oldest and has become one of the state’s most visited parks hosting over 350,000 visitors each year.  During the warmer months picknicking, camping, lodging, hiking and fishing are available.  The lodge and cabins are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

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