Moraine Hills State Park Trail


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Moraine Hills State Park Trail Facts

States: Illinois
Counties: McHenry
Length: 11.4 miles
Trail end points: Charles J. Miller Rd. and S. River Rd. and S. Lily Lake Rd. and W. Wegner Rd.
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6395916
Trail activities: Bike, Fishing, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Moraine Hills State Park Trail Description

Moraine Hills State Park Trail offers a wonderful experience for any geology or nature aficionado. A moraine is an accumulation of earth and stones carried and finally deposited by a glacier. Throughout the park, one can see the glacial till, as well as lakes, marshes, pot-holes and bogs -- all formed by the Wisconsin glacier's ice and meltwater. For those who want to learn even more of the park's history and ecology, there are interpretive boardwalks, walking trails, and a nature center at Lake Defiance and Pike Mash. There is abundant wildlife throughout the park, and special viewing platforms and signs along the trail. It has its westernmost trailhead right at the picturesque McHenry lock and dam on the Fox River. Fishing is allowed there and at Lake Defiance.

There are eight short spurs off the eastern trail loops to connect it directly to service areas, all with parking, restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables. The long and more narrow loop sections of the trail are marked for one-way transit of bikers and skiers. The trail goes through dense woods and wide open spaces. There are lots of mostly short, but sometimes steep, hills along the trail. All for making even more welcome those moments of rest and viewing the scenery.

Parking and Trail Access

From State Route 120, turn south onto Chapel Hill Road or River Road and proceed about 0.75 mile until the two roads come together and continue south as River Road. From the junction, go 2.5 miles and turn left into the park entrance.

From SR 31, turn east onto Charles J. Miller Road and proceed 1.3 miles to River Road. Turn right onto River Road, go 1.7 miles and turn left into the park entrance.

Moraine Hills State Park Trail Reviews

One of the best bike trails in northern Illinois. Haven’t finished all the trails and look forward to being there again with it’s maintained quiet paths, and very few people using the trails as compared to the Des Plaines river bike path. Love the one way bike paths given the hills, our age and safety concerns. Given the steep hills and the effort it takes to reach the top each hill, I can understand why there are few people on the trails.

I think this is one of the most beautiful trails in the greater Chicago area. I can’t understand why it doesn’t have more reviews! The vistas and wildlife are so varied and interesting in any season and the hills make for a terrific workout. It’s well used by bicyclists, walkers, and runners, but never feels remotely crowded.

I visited this path on Summer 2017. I loved that path. My, my father and my nephews enjoyed all aspects of the path, the lakes, trees, animals and hills. As one of the visitor mentioned, this path offers a lot to see. We stopped once to see the entire colony of almost 100 turtles (Yes, we stopped long enough to count them) The view amazed us. Because the path follows "one way" only, it annoyed me a bit, but as we were exploring it, I understood the rationale. People had a reason to call it "Moraine Hills." Two way traffic would cause plenty of accidents. However, the those hills really shaped and strengthened our endurance. The step slopes would made simultaneously spit your lungs out on the way up, and on the way down scream from top of your lungs. Excitement and the joy from being on the path resulted in the best memories. Everyone needs to visit this path. I can assure you that I will come back there with pleasure.


This is a really great trail to explore SLOWLY. There is so much to see; so much to take in. The facilities are nice, and the trail's long enough to take all day, if you go slow and enjoy all there is here. It is obviously beautiful any time of year. It was delightful to see all the fishermen along the Fox River, and the old lock and dam there, too.

This trail has scenery, wildlife and is very well maintained. A very accessible park the trails here are mapped out at the park house and there are many places to take photos, breath in fresh air and enjoy the view. The thing I liked most about the trails is that the park is far enough from the city to feel like you've gone somewhere but close enough to make it a nice inexpensive day trip. The trail was great for walking and there were bicyclists there as well.

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