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Apple River Canyon State Park, Apple River

4.2
#26 of 37 in Nature in Illinois
State Park Nature / Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is an Illinois state park on in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, USA. The park was begun with land purchased by the state in 1932, as a result of a prolonged campaign led by botanist Herman Silas Pepoon; with additional acquisitions since, of land have been preserved to protect much of an 8+1/2mi long canyon on the Apple River.The river canyon is part of the Driftless Area of Illinois, a region that was bypassed by the last ice age; "the glacial sweep which ironed out hills and filled valleys in other parts of the state left this area unscratched". During the dramatic events that surrounded the end of the last Ice Age, the Apple River, which once flowed eastward into the Pecatonica River, reversed its original course and began to flow southwest through an erosion gorge to the Mississippi. The result is a deep canyon, part of which is preserved in the Park.The Apple River Canyon State Park, and the Land and Water Reserve within the park, offers hiking, fishing, and hunting on parcels of gorge land. There are several hiking trails through the woods with nice views of the river and bluffs, and a tent campground. Smallmouth bass live in the river.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
40 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • While not a huge park, it is beautiful!! Not a lot of foot traffic here which is kinda nice!! HOWEVER....they do not have the trails marked well ( there are an abundance of rabbit trails) and I could ...  more »
  • We never really found the best parking lot where we could figure out all the trail options in the canyon. We attempted the 'sunset' trail, which was fairly moderate in difficulty - narrow, dirt path, ...  more »
  • The Lake is beautiful, there are trails around that are great hiking, some beautiful scenery. A nice place to relax and get away from the city. I understand fireworks over the lake are incredible on t...  more »
Google
  • Beautiful spot! We camped for the weekend in early April and enjoyed the quiet park and the canyon. The campground was clean, with a fire pit and picnic table at each campsite, and the vault toilet was clean and was sanitized every day we were there. (And had toilet paper.) Firewood was available for purchase at a stop just outside the state park, if you're coming from a different part of the state like we did. Staff were really friendly -- Dave even offered to help us move our tent and gear when we decided to swap campsites after the first night.
  • Great place for "primitive" camping (no showers). The pit toilets were clean and well maintained. The sites are well shaded and separate from each other. Good hiking near the stream.
  • A pretty little state park preserved in the midst of thousands of acres of farmland dotted with big red barns and silos. Nice short hiking trails. The picturesque Apple River winding through the canyon is supposed to have good fishing. The park is 30 minutes from 19th century Galena. A great day trip from Chicago. Memorable for me because I saw a magnificent American bald eagle in the wild!
  • Fun adventure hike for the family. Hiking boots might come handy when the path gets slippery / muddy for more traction, especially when you are walking parallel to the river up on a hill
  • Well maintained smaller park in the rolling hills of northern Illinois. High canyon walls are the highlight.

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