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Featured National Recreation Trails

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Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.


Moraine Hills National Recreation Trail, Illinois

Located in Moraine Hills State Park, the trails system traverses Illinois marshland, kettle moraines, prairies, and wooded hills, for bicycling, hiking, jogging, and cross-country skiing.


Illinois Map

photo of trail through woods

Along the Moraine Hills Trail System

Moraine Hills State Park Trail, managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is located in the northeast corner of Illinois, three miles south of the City of McHenry.

Total trail milage is 10.2. The loop trail, surfaced with crushed limestone for 8.5 miles, includes the following segments: The Fox River (2.0 miles), Leatherleaf Bog (3.2 miles) and Lake Defiance (3.7 miles), plus the 1.7 mile paved River Road.

Trail use consists of bicycling, hiking, jogging, and cross-country skiing. The connecting loops and one liner trail connector are all part of the trail system.

Moraine Hills State Parks broad trail swerve in and out marshland and up and down kettle moraines, near natural lakes, prairies, bogs, and wooded hills. More than 10 miles of trail make Moraine Hills popular for hikers, skiers, and cyclists.

photo of observation deck

Overlook at the 115-acre black crown Marsh

Four trail segments, three surfaced with crushed limestone and one with asphalt paving wing their way through the park. The three crushed limestone trail loops are designated as one-way routes for cyclists and skiers.

The trails offer exceptional views of the 48-acre glacial Lake Defiance, 115-acre Pike Marsh, home to many rare plants, and 120-acre area region known as Leatherleaf Bog, an example of kettle-moraine topography.

The trail also offers a close-up view and experience of the historic Fox River and McHenry Dam on the park’s western border.

The park’s 1.7 mile linear asphalt trail along River Road connects to the 450 mile Grand Illinois Trail connecting many communities from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.

photo of trail by lake

A view along the fox river in Moraine Hills State Park

Connection with other significant trails

The Moraine Hills (State Parks) 1.7 mile asphalt paved river Road Trail is a designated segment of the 450 mile Grand Illinois Trail (from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.)

Access to outstanding natural, cultural and/or historic resources

The four trails of the Moraine Hills trail system passes through significant natural resources, such as the near-natural glacier lake, 115-acre pike marsh and 120-acre bog (an excellent example of kettle-moraine topography).

For more information:

Moraine Hills State Park
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
1510 So. River Road, McHenry, Illinois, 60051
Phone: (815) 385-1624 -


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trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Trail managers can update online trail information in the NRT database. You may also e-mail information on minor changes or to update Featured NRT pages.



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The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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