Winter is associated with migration, hibernation, changes in animal behavior, plants becoming dormant, and humans experiencing special health concerns ranging from hypothermia to seasonal depression. Winter even invokes its own special vocabularies to describe the conditions (e.g. black ice, whiteouts, and corn snow). Descriptions of winter camping depend on geographic location, opportunities to go camping […]
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.
From fishing to hiking and biking – from lush habitat and rare plants to watching a wealth of wildlife – Moraine Hills State Park is home to a recreational bounty in northeast Illinois. Located 3 miles south of McHenry in McHenry County, the park is located near the Fox River and McHenry Dam, with about half of the park’s 2,200 acres composed of wetlands and lakes.
In 1939, the State of Illinois made the initial McHenry Dam State Park land acquisition of 15 acres 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 State Park opened in October 1976. The park name is derived from a geologic formation known as a moraine, which is an accumulation of boulders, stones and other debris deposited by a glacier.
The 48-acre Lake Defiance, located near the center of the park, is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained largely undeveloped, maintaining a near-natural condition.
The waters and wetlands of Moraine Hills are home to abundant wildlife; more than 200 species of birds have been identified at the park. Fishing is available on both Lake Defiance and on the Fox River. The McHenry Dam area provides access to the Fox River, and a fishing pier accessible. 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.
Wright Woods was named for one of Lake County’s first settlers, Captain Daniel Wright. In the early 1960s, these acres were some of the first acquired. In 2004, the 168-acre Lloyd’s Woods addition to Wright Woods expanded the preserve to its current 750 acres.
The Natural Scene
Captain Daniel Wright Woods provides the opportunity to see the powerful effects of water and fire. Prior to settlement by Europeans, wildfires regularly swept eastward across Lake County, only to be stopped by the Des Plaines River. Situated just east of the river, Wright Woods supports a rich oak and maple woodland that sometimes develops in less frequently burned areas. With large stands of maples found at few other places in Lake County, Wright Woods is a great place to view autumn colors.
In spring, the bridge between Half Day and Wright Woods is a popular place to spot migrating songbirds like the yellow-throated warbler or Baltimore oriole. Later in the summer, look for nesting field birds in the restored prairie. Eastern bluebirds, tree swallows and red-tailed hawks are commonly seen here.
This peaceful oasis offers 4 miles of scenic trails.