Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters


Camping on the banks of the serene Sugar River


Connect With Nature, Win Stuff!

It’s time to Get Outside! Beginning June 7th and continuing through August 1st, 2014, the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District invites local residents to Get Outside! GO is a back-to-nature event that is FREE and accessible for all ages.  Participating families will function as a “team”, and are encouraged to engage in a friendly competition as they explore Winnebago County forest preserves. Get Outside! offers a full schedule and wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. Get Outside! activities and events include guided hikes, canoeing clinics, nature study, camping, golf, bird hikes, senior walks, river study, paddling trips, archaeology and more. Teams earn points for each activity they participate in. Earning enough points will qualify teams for grand prize drawings.

Grand prizes include:

1.            Kayak donated by Rocktown Adventures

2.            Family Camping Package donated by Blain’s Farm and Fleet, Loves Park

3.            Family Birding Package – with binoculars

To participate, people need to get a Get Outside! passport by registering at  The passport contains the full schedule and serves as a coupon book for free admission to all activities. Teams can participate in just a few or several of the 35 scheduled activities.

 Get Outside! kicks-off with a free family fun day at Hononegah Forest Preserve on Saturday, June 7th from 12:00 – 3:00. This afternoon of refreshments, games, door prizes, activities and exhibits will be an opportunity to learn about all the different activities on the menu for Get Outside! and get sneak previews of the recreational opportunities. This is the ideal time to pick up a GO passport and get all the information needed to take full advantage of the many opportunities and activities happening in forest preserves this summer.

Get Outside! is a free community program presented by the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District and generously supported by Rocktown Adventures, Swedish American Health System, OSF Saint Anthony Health Center, Farm and  Fleet (Loves Park).

Donation Expands Stone Bridge Forest Preserve

Roscoe Township has donated 21 acres of property to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District to be added to the Stone Bridge Forest Preserve. The recent donation raises the total preserve acreage to 127.5.  The donated property was planted to prairie by the township and will be maintained as a natural area by the Forest Preserve District. The new addition will enhance access to the forest preserve and to the Stone Bridge Trail. Roscoe Township’s donation of this critical piece of land is just one chapter in a long story of cooperation and partnership that has created this forest preserve.

The original Stone Bridge land acquisitions by the Forest Preserve District and the Natural Land Institute took place in in 2007, through collaboration among several public and private entities including: The Trust for Public Land, the Natural Land Institute, the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, Roscoe Township, and the  Village of Roscoe with funds provided by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources C-2000.

In 2010 the Forest Preserve District purchased an additional 10.5 acres with more funding help from Illinois Clean Energy, and later that year the Natural Land Institute donated their 61 acres south of the creek to the Forest Preserve.


The Forest Preserve District’s land acquisition priority is to connect and expand existing preserves to protect sensitive wildlife habitat and critical natural resources, such as the rare oak savanna and pristine Kinnikinnick Creek on this property. Roscoe Township’s support of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District’s mission by providing a valuable expansion to an ecologically sensitive property is a continuation of preserve’s history of innovative partnerships.

Campground Electrical Upgrades

Recently the District has begun a phased, multi-year replacement of the electric service at three campgrounds. The electric service was installed sometime in the early 1970’s and is now almost 40 years old, is deteriorating, and has been recommended for replacement by an independent engineering audit conducted at each of the campgrounds in 2013. Sugar River Campground will be the first to receive phase one of new service to a portion of the campground this spring, with phase two planned for this fall for the remainder of that campground. New service will provide safer electrical service with better grounding, provide more available 50 amp sites, as well as provide convenience with single individual pedestals for each numbered site. Additional phases are planned for the Hononegah and Seward Bluffs Campgrounds in 2016 and beyond as funding permits.

Also included in these upgrades will be renovations to the shower house at Sugar River, as well as upgraded ADA camp sites at all three locations.

New Web Site Features Color Photos and Nature News

The WCFPD web site ( has undergone an extreme makeover! A new look reflects the forest preserves’ focus on nature, new features such as an interactive map, 360°panoramics of each shelter house, an event calendar and other user-friendly tools make it informative and easy to use.  Web site visitors will also enjoy the Conservation page which is a great source of information about Winnebago County’s plant and animal communities. Learn about our four rivers, ecosystems, native plant and animal species, and habitat restoration in the forest preserves. The Plants and Animals page is a reference library of photos and information about local wildlife including birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and insects. Much more information is needed to build out all the species categories, and we request that local experts contribute their knowledge about local species to help build this valuable public resource about the biodiversity of Winnebago County.

Spring Events

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District/

Severson Dells Nature Center

Elderberry Trails Series

June 3-5 and June 10-12

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Come to one or come to all of these awesome walks. Join Scott Kruger on this series of walks just for those that want to enjoy nature at a great pace…slowly. We are giving you a reason to get up and get out and enjoy the great Forest Preserves we have in this area. The walks will be easy and about an hour or an hour and a half in length. Get some exercise, see some birds, and learn where the great trails are in the County, whatever excuse you need, just get there. Sorry no kids allowed on these walks, just those over 40 (or at least old enough to drive) and that are kids at heart. No fee, but please call for reservations so we can notify you if there are changes and let you know of the meeting spots. 815-335-2915.

Tuesday, June 3             Hononegah Forest Preserve

Wednesday, June 4        Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve

Thursday, June 5            Sugar River Forest Preserve

Tuesday, June 10           Kieselburg Forest Preserve

Wednesday, June 11      Severson Dells Forest Preserve

Thursday, June 12            Stone Bridge Forest Preserve

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District


Get Outside! Kick-off Celebration

Saturday, June 7

12:00 – 3:00 pm

Hononegah Forest Preserve

#80 Hononegah Road, Rockton, IL 61072


This will be a fun family-oriented afternoon of learning and activities to give you a preview of all the hiking, paddling, camping, fishing, river study, gardening, and nature discovery that will be offered through Get Outside! This kick-off is where you can pick up your passport and all the information and materials you need to take advantage of free summer fun in the forest preserves. Nature displays, guided hikes, outdoor recreation, free refreshments and door prizes! Stay for free camping!


Winnebago County Forest Preserve District/

Severson Dells Nature Center

Frog Night

At Pecatonica River Forest Preserve, 7260 Judd Road entrance

Saturday, June 7

6:30 p.m.

Meet at Pecatonica River Forest Preserve shelterhouse parking lot and hop down to the “barn.” Inside we’ll discuss the different types of frogs and toads species found in northern Illinois. We will listen to their calls and explain the need to conduct surveys.

We’ll walk down to the oxbow lake (easy 1 mile walk, there and back) and listen and document what frogs/toads are found. After surveying at PRFP we’ll carpool to Pecatonica Wetlands and other WCFPD properties in the western part of the County and survey there. We’ll end by talking about how you can help by surveying other properties and reporting back your information. For ages 8 and up; please call for reservations 815-335-2915.


Winnebago County Forest Preserve District/

Severson Dells Nature Center

Canoe Convoy

Monday evenings, June 9 – July 21

6:00 p.m.

Join us as we explore the miles upon miles of wonderful paddling opportunities we have in Winnebago County!  American Canoe Association certified instructors and volunteers will help you learn to be a more skillful and confident paddler. Equipment and guides are provided for $20.00 and there is a $5.00 shuttle fee if needed. You must call weekly to register and find out the CC’s location for the evenings paddle. Every week will feature a different river or stretch of river. Times will vary in length. YOU MUST CALL TO REGISTER BEFORE THE FRIDAY PRIOR TO GET INFORMATION. Ages10 and up. We reserve the right to cancel the evening paddle if conditions are not favorable. 815-335-2915.