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

Kilbuck Bluffs

Kilbuck Bluffs Forest Preserve is one of the oldest in Winnebago County. This 224.3-acre preserve consists of two parts along South Bend Road. The west portion has a road that loops around in the floodplain of Kilbuck Creek. Very large cottonwood, oak and other trees cover the area creating an ideal spot for bank fishing the creek. In early spring the ground here becomes covered with Spring Beauties. The white and purple streaked flowers light up the flats.

Across the road and high atop a hill is the east portion of Kilbuck Bluffs Forest Preserve. This is the part that gives the name to the preserve. Kilbuck Creek flows rapidly along the bluff just to the south. The loop roadway leads around through hardwood forest and a grove of pine trees planted in the 1950’s.

If you are visiting this side of the forest preserve in the spring check out the flowers of the forest floor. You’ll want to step carefully among the beds of May Apples, Bloodroots, Dutchman’s Breeches, and Virginia Cutleaf. Return a couple weeks later to a flood of blue Virginia Bluebells covering the floor of the forest. The displays of ephemeral flowers make Kilbuck “a must” for spring hikes. 1.5 miles of hiking trails make a nice tour of the creek, bluff, prairie and woods.

Along with the flowers and early insects, come the migrant birds. Looking over the edge of the bluff, into the branches of eye-level trees, brings the bird life very close. Kilbuck is a great spot to find birds during spring migration. Woodland birds from thrushes, tanagers, woodpeckers, vireos, and warblers are common.

Acres: 224.3
Access Road: Yes
Restrooms: Yes
Drinking Water: Yes
Picnic Tables: Yes
Shelterhouses: 2
Edgewood: South on left. Wood shelter, 100 max. people, 10 tables, 60 seats, No electricity, No vehicle access, 1 large grill.
Fort Chartres:  Stone shelter no longer in use.
Playground Equipment: No
Ball Fields: No
Horseback Trails: No
Hiking Trails(miles): 1.5
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.


3061 & 3020 South Bend Road, Rockford, IL 61109
Highway 51 south of New Milford 1½ miles to Baxter Road. 1 mile west.

Shelterhouses 360° Views



Shelterhouse *Fees
Max People Tables Seating Electric Playground
Edgewood $75 $100 100 10 60 No No

Fort Chartres       Stone shelter no longer in use.

*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