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.


Fun, easy 20 mile loop from Bureau to Tiskilwa

   September, 2016 by bretthousman

I'm from Morris and have frequented the I&M for a few years now. Yesterday I went to the Hennepin for the first time ever. I started in Bureau Junction and took the canal to Tiskilwa, then transferred over to the road that follows that little river back ...read more

Dangerous and not maintained

   August, 2016 by JudgeKKelley

Large put holes, weeds in middle of the trail not cut. This trail is not being maintained probably because of Illinois budget problems. Not fit for riding at any speed. Very rough and dangerous on eastern end of trail. Went 12 miles till I hit a huge ...read more

Quiet and lovely

   July, 2016 by mbw901

What a great find. Yes there is construction in the Colona area that could be marked a bit better, but if you are a small rule breaker....well just walk under the underpass knowing you might get a little mud on your shoes. Fish jumping, pretty good old ...read more