Located in the heart of Illinois' largest concentration of natural lakes is Chain O'Lakes State Park. The park borders three natural lakes - Grass, Marie and Nippersink - and the Fox River that connects the other seven lakes (Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine and Redhead) that make up the Chain. In addition, the park contains a 44-acre lake within its boundaries. With nearly 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline, Chain O'Lakes State Park is the heart of a water wonderland.
Chain O’Lakes State Park, located in northeast Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties, became a state park in 1945 when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O'Lakes Conservation Area, and was incorporated into the state park in 1957. The park features seven picnic areas and four trail systems. The Nature's Way hiking trail starts at Oak Grove Picnic Area and is 2 ¼ miles in length. The Pike Marsh North Picnic Area has an accessible trail that a quarter-mile long. The park also contains 8 miles of equestrian trail and a 6 miles biking/hiking trail.
The Chain O'Lakes area was inhabited by central Algonquian Tribes when Europeans first arrived in the mid-1600s. The predominant tribes in the region at that time were the Miami, Mascouten and Potawatomi. These Native American groups led a semi-mobile lifestyle and grew corn, hunted, fished and gathered wild plant foods.
Joliet and Marquette passed through what became Chain O'Lakes State Park in 1673 as they traveled the Fox River during their Illinois explorations. French trappers and traders were the first Europeans to explore the area. The first European settlement was at Fort Hill, near Mundelein, a large mound rising out of the prairie, formerly a lookout point for Native Americans.
Chain O'Lakes became a state park in 1945, when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O'Lakes Conservation Area. This land was incorporated into the state park in 1957. A farm at the park purchased by the Department of Conservation in 1969 was originally owned by the Stevens family, farmers who received the land under a land grant in 1843.
Visit their webpage to learn more- www.dnr.illinois.gov
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