Hennepin Canal Parkway

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

The Hennepin Canal Parkway, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources as a state park, follows an old towpath along a canal opened in 1907 and quickly abandoned due to competition from railroads. The canal was originally built to link the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Most of the various locks and aqueducts necessary to span the 105-mile distance are still in place, and the entire canal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The path, which was built for animals towing boats along the canal but never used this way, is level and easy. However, water is scarce along the way (found only at locks 21, 22 and the Visitor Center), so be sure to bring plenty, especially during hot days. The landscape varies from forest to grasslands to marsh to farmland, and the trail is particularly pleasing during fall, when the leaves are changing colors.

The trail surface is suitable for both road and mountain bikes, although those on hybrid bikes will have the easiest time. During winter, the canal often freezes, making it suitable for ice skating. Anglers will find stocked bluegill, crappie, walleye and bass.

The east–west corridor extends from Bureau Junction, near the Illinois River, to Colona on the Rock River. A feeder canal runs just more than 29 miles from northeast of Mineral north to Rock Falls and Sterling. Toilets are located at locks 3, 6, 11, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 26, as well as at bridges 14, 15, 23 and the Visitor Center on the main canal. Additional toilets can be found at bridges 50, 52 and 64 on the feeder canal.

Parking and Trail Access

You can access the Hennepin Canal Parkway in numerous places along both the main canal and feeder canal. The Visitor Center is located off Interstate 80 just west of State Route 40 near Sheffield.


Very Nice Trail

   May, 2016 by smithc061309

We biked the Hennepin Canal trail mid May of this year. Our plan was to ride from the feeder canal trailhead in Rock Falls, to Wyanet on the main trail. Due to an issue with transportation, we decided to reverse our route, beginning at the bike rental ...read more

   April, 2016 by kylejsaunders

I've ridden the Hennepin Canal numerous times, most of my trips taking place between Bureau Junction and Sheffield. In some of the more remote parts, the scenery is quite beautiful and it's nearly deserted. Unfortunately, the state has not done such a ...read more

National Multi Recreational Trail/ Connecting Grand Illinois Trail & Rock River Trail

   September, 2015 by daveoutdoorworld

Hello fellow kayaker & Bike riders starting at the Rock River the most northern part of the feeder canal in the towns of Rock Falls & Sterling IL there are two Multi National Trail Systems that intersect. At the beginning of the Hennepin Feeder getting ...read more