Outdoor Recreation

A view from a trail at Mississippi Palisades State Park

 

Ayers Sand Prairie Nature Preserve
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge map-button
Airport Rd & Spring Lake Road
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-2732

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Ayers Sand Prairie is a relatively large preserve containing dry sand prairie, sand dune and blowout communities typical of the Mississippi River Section of the Illinois and Mississippi River Sand Areas Natural Division. An inventory of the plants revealed 39 species of grasses and sedges, 16 species of woody plants and 96 forbs. The dominant herbaceous species are little bluestem, June grass and hairy gramma grass. Carolina anemone, sandcress, puccoon and sand primrose are typical sand prairie species. Black oak and cottonwood occur in the blowouts along with scattered clones of aromatic sumac. Resident mammals include deer, skunk, rabbit, mole, shrew and western harvest mice. Summer resident birds occurring here include upland sandpiper, loggerhead shrike, western meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow and dickcissel. A number of the characteristic reptiles found in sand prairies occur at Ayers Sand Prairie.


map-button French Bluff Illinois State Recreational Nature Area
2911 Scenic Bluff Road
Thomson, Illinois 61285
815-273-2731

French bluff is characterized by steep hillsides, ridge tops, and terrace benches that are almost entirely covered by forest. Located east of Thomson, IL and just north of Argo Fay Road, this large contiguous forest tract is the southern most forest area in the Driftless Area. You can hike on unmarked trails through the site. An excellent birding site for interior forest birds as well as a good site to view spring wildflowers. Hiking, hunting, and birding.


map-buttonFrog Pond
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
Doty Road & Route 84
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-2732

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Frog Pond is a small recreational area situated along Plum River. Located just south of Savanna, IL and immediately off Route 84, one of its big features is a wheel chair accessible fishing platform. Not only good for fishing, but an excellent place to view floodplain forest birds during spring and fall migration. Birding, canoeing, fishing, and picnicking.


map-buttonGreat River Trail

Great River Trail Map PDF

The Great River Trail recreational path extends 62 miles from Savanna, through the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, to the Quad Cities and  provides fantastic biking, hiking, running, and walking opportunities.


map-buttonIngersoll Wetlands Learning Center
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
7071 Riverview Road
Thomson, Illinois 61285
815-273-2732

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Fifty-five thousand acres with biking, birding, boat launches, canoeing, fishing, gift shop, hiking, hunting, picnicking, and wildlife observation.


map-buttonLost Mound Unit
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
3700 Army Depot Road
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-3184

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Lost Mound is a 7,000-acre tract on the Mississippi River located on an old munitions testing army base that closed in 2000. Unique features of this site include sand prairie remnants, forests, backwater wetlands, old military buildings, Indian burial mounds and the largest sand dune in Illinois. Biking, birding, hiking, Prickly Pear and Black Oak Dune scenic overlook area.


map-buttonMarquette Park
Wayne King Drive & Randolph Street
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-4487

Seven acre park on the Mississippi River, boat launches, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, restrooms, & parking.


map-buttonMississippi Palisades State Park
16327A Route 84
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-2731

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As its name suggests, this 2,400-acre park sits on lofty steep bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, with river access below. The park offers beautiful scenery, biking, birding, boat launches, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, scenic overlooks, and seasonal cross-country skiing.


Monument Park
Main Street
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-2722

This small area describing early settlement in Savanna hosts the monument commemorating the Aaron Pierce family, the first settlers of Savanna.


map-buttonOld Mill Park
9621 US Highway 52
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-4487

Old Mill Park is 85 acres located on the northeast side of town featuring ball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball court, playground equipment, concession stand, two restroom buildings (one newly built accessible), and shelter houses. There is also a nature trail, walking trial, and plenty of green space for relaxing and picnicking. Open from April 15 through October 31. It is open to walk-in traffic after October 31 during the daylight hours. Persons who wish to walk or ‘play’ in the park may park at the front entrance near the Park Superintendent’s home.


map-buttonPoint Rock Park
182 South Mill Street
Mount Carroll, Illinois 61053
815-244-4424

Point Rock is a 25 acre city park that stretches along the banks of the Waukarusa River. One of the walking trails leads to the Oak Hill Cemetery, which has graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. Biking,  fishing, frisbee golf course, hiking, parking, restrooms.


map-buttonPortland Skate Park
1500 Portland Avenue
Savanna, Illinois 61074
815-273-2722

Professional skate park. Open to all skaters, dawn to dusk daily. Helmets are mandatory.


map-buttonSpring Lake
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge 
9496 Route 84
Thomson, Illinois 61285
815-273-2732

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This site provides scenic views of both Spring Lake as well as the Mississippi River. Most notable is the 8.7 mile gravel path that runs along the edges of Spring Lake with two observation decks. Biking, birding, fishing, hiking, picnicking.


map-buttonU.S. Army Corps of Engineers Big Slough Recreational Area
5836 Riverview Road
Thomson, Illinois 61285
815-259-3628

Mississippi River boat launching, canoe access, fishing, restrooms, and parking.


map-buttonU.S. Army Corps of Engineers Thomson Causeway Recreation Area
Lewis Avenue and Main Street
Thomson, Illinois 61285
815-259-2353

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At 64 acres, Thomson Causeway is the largest Army Corps of Engineers recreation area on the Mississippi River. Located at a wide spot on the river, it offers unobstructed views of the more than three mile wide main channel and of Potters Marsh. On the Great River Trail. Biking, birding, boat launches, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking.