Kickapoo State Trails

Kickapoo State Park

by David Scott

Useful links:

http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt/PARKS/R3/KICKAPOO.HTM (Kickapoo Park web site)

http://www.kennekuk.com (Kennekuk Running Club)

http://www.commerce.state.il.us/communityprofiles/profiles/OAKWOOD.HTM (Oakwood, Illinois web site)

Kickapoo State Park, which straddles I-74 (from west, take exit 206; from east, exit 210), has about 15 miles of well-maintained but generally challenging trails. The longest and best are the Clear Pond and Wilderness (Out and Back) trails. These are separately 3 and 7.6 miles, and can be combined for a 10-mile outing: The trailhead for Clear Pond is across the road from the maintenance building.

Turn right on the trail; after about 0.5 mile, cross the road where posted to reach the Wilderness trail and follow this out along the track and across the meadow. More woods with a twisting trail follow, slowly descending to the Middle Fork River. Across the bridge, a flat section is a prelude to a steep climb and the roughest part of this trail, around a loop. A steep descent (beware of the old steps which are badly eroded) leads back to flat bottom land and the end of the loop. It is a steady toil to re-ascend to the meadow. Once back on the track beyond this, turn back to the Clear Pond Trail where sign-posted. Turning right on Clear Pond leads you down into Spooky Hollow (watch for the wood-carvings), then a steep ascent up some widely-spaced steps, and, after a brief respite, a steep downhill back down almost to pond level (beware of the final step down!). From here, the trail is flatter, but still in woods, following the side of the pond out almost to meet the road, then back to the starting point. Other trails worth exploring here are the Riverview (which starts at the bottom of the road crossed on the way from the Clear Pond to Wilderness Trails), South Riverview (across the west entrance road from the end of Riverview), and then other trails located off the loop road, including Mouse Mountain and White Tail. Kennekuk Road Runners organizes races on the Wilderness Trail in September (Wild Wild Wilderness) and January (Siberian Express).

Breakfast: Truck stop on south side of I-74 exit 206 (Oakwood).