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Hike Cedar Cliff Forest Preserve

Cedar Cliff Forest Preserve, by Allen Penticoff
7901 Kishwaukee Road, Stillman Valley, IL 61084

 

Today I walked my miniature Schnauzer Berghie at the new Cedar Cliffs forest preserve in southern Winnebago County on¬†Kishwaukee Road near the Ogle County line. This forest preserve was created in 2107, but it has just had a lot of improvements in the last year. There is good parking, a pit toilet and a wide lane that stretches nearly a mile to the Rock River. Right off the bat you cross a small fish filled brook at a low wooden foot bridge, sparing you wading across. It will be a dry walk the rest of the way. Right now there has been a lot of work done to clear out old fence-row woodlands and other woods in the area of the brook. All over you will see huge piles of cut down trees. Don’t be sad. They were not good trees and the beautiful rolling hill prairie that is taking their place will be a joy for future generations. There is a high point on the prairie where you can see many other hills in the southern part of the county – although one of them is man made – it is still a splendid view.

After you’ve walked across the prairie you will see a split in the trail. Take the left path into the woods. There is still a fair amount of old woods up on the bluff over the Rock River. Then you’ll need basic instincts to turn left off the trail and go explore the edges of the 60-foot high limestone drop-off. Indeed it is a cliff and indeed there are beautiful gnarly cedars growing out of it. The view is best in the Fall, with the leaves gone, up the river is quite splendid. Take pictures.

Once you are done admiring the trees, cliff and view go back to the main trail and turn left. You’ll head downhill to the bottom of a ravine. If so inclined you can gain access to the river and the base of the cliffs depending on river level. The trail then heads back uphill following the wide ravine – this is also where a gas pipeline is routed. A short trail pops into the woods and back out onto the trail. Soon you’ll be back on the north edge of the prairie and will pass an area where new oak trees are being planted. Someday our grandchildren will be snapping photos of great trees here (maybe great grand kids). The trail then meets where you took that left fork off into the woods. On the way back about mid-prairie we discovered a couple of small frozen ponds. Frog ponds for sure. Dragonfly nirvana.

We had a splendid sunny cold day with no wind. Making it a great long silent walk. It is posted as 1.8 miles of trail. Yep, every wonderful foot of it.

Click here for a printable Cedar Cliff trail map