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Pecatonica Wetlands

Pecatonica Wetlands is made up of 1,048 acres of flood-plain forest, oxbow ponds, marshes and upland forest along the Pecatonica River. The site has outstanding spring flora and birdlife. Includes fishing access, hiking trails, picnic areas, a shelterhouse and wildlife areas. An excellent bird watching location!

This preserve consists of two sections. The western section is the largest section and is low floodplain land, ox-bow ponds and wetlands. A winding trail provides an easy hike with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The eastern section, further north on Best Road, offers one of the most beautiful and popular picnic shelters in the county, as well as 100 acres of prairie and woods.

Noteworthy birds and wildlife in the lower wetland area: Sandhill Cranes nest at the edges of some of the oxbow lakes and marshes. Tree Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers nest in the standing dead trees in the marshes throughout the preserve. The more heavily wooded marshes have nesting Prothonotary Warblers and Wood Ducks. A heron rookery is at the west end of an oxbow visible from Pecatonica Road near the preserve entrance and parking area. American White Pelicans use the oxbows during late summers and migration. Migration brings a wide variety of birds such as Scarlet Tanagers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Blue-headed Vireos, Northern Waterthrushes, five species of swallows and many other songbirds. Waterfowl stop off on migration and Bald Eagles hunt up and down the Pecatonica River.

Acres: 1,048
Access Road: Yes
Restrooms: Yes
Drinking Water: Yes
Picnic Tables: Yes
Shelterhouses: 1
Arrowhead: Stone shelter, 300 max. people, 16-12ft. tables, 192 seats, Electricity, No vehicle access, 2 grills.
Playground Equipment: No
Ball Fields: No
Horseback Trails: No
Hiking Trails(miles): 6.5
Campground Sites: No
Boat Launch: No
Canoe Launch: No
18 Hole Golf Course: No
Illinois Nature Preserve: No
Special Facilities: No
Donated Land: No
Natural Areas: Yes
All reservations subject to the GENERAL USE ORDINANCE.

Trail Map

Download a printable trail map here.


5750 Best Road, Pecatonica, IL 61063
Pecatonica Wetlands may be accessed just north of the Village of Pecatonica and the Pecatonica River, on the west side of Pecatonica Road. The picnic shelterhouse area is on the east side of Best Road, west of Pecatonica Road and north of Blair Road.

Shelterhouses 360° Views


Shelterhouse *Fees
Max People Tables Seating Electric Playground
Arrowhead $85 $115 300 16-12ft. 192 Yes No

*Residents or non-residents of Winnebago County


Reservations are Non-refundable and Non-transferable

All shelters reservations are FULL day reservations. Shelter use is from 7:00am – Sunset. (Preserves close a half hour after sunset)

Shelters MUST be reserved 3 days in advance

$2.00 convenience fee added to credit card purchases