Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area
Open: Open all year
Number of Sites: 95
Number of Sites with Electric: 70
From cross-country skiing in the winter to a lazy picnic in the summer, from a fishing trip in the spring to exploring fields of wildflowers amidst the fall colors of the giant oaks, Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park truly is a park for all seasons.
Located on a glacial moraine that forms the beautiful, rolling hills of Henry County in north-central Illinois, the park sits astride a trail that led Native Americans from Lake Michigan to the confluence of the Mississippi and Rock rivers.
Located off Illinois Route 78, Johnson-Sauk Trail is 6 miles south of Interstate 80 and 5 miles north of Kewanee. Originally known as the Henry County Conservation Area, a local newspaper invited the public to suggest names when the conservation area was going to be changed to a state park. Two names were popular with the public. One would name the park after State Senator Frank P. Johnson, a tireless worker on behalf of the park, while the second suggested Sauk Trail as a fitting name, for the Indian tribes most associated with the park when Europeans began settling the area.
The two most popular choices were combined to form the park's official name. Today, Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park features 1,365 acres of recreation opportunities.
Park Hours are May 1st - November 1st: Sunrise - 10 pm and November 1st - May 1st: Sunrise - Sunset. Lakeshore Loop Road is a Day Use Area that is open May 1st - November 1st from Sunrise - Sunset.
The park features 9 picnic areas--mostly around the lake--with tables and cook stoves/grills. Two of the picnic areas have shelters. Chief Senachwine Shelter offers electricity. Both shelters and all picnic areas are 'first come, first served'.
The playground in Chief Keokuk Campground is available to our campers.
Johnson-Sauk Trail Lake's boat launch is adjacent to the Marina near the dam. Boats also are available for rent at the Marina, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Only electric trolling motors are permitted on the lake.
Johnson-Sauk Trail has 4 miles of trails, ranging from 1/4 mile to 1 mile in length, from easy to moderate and taking hikers along the lake or through land ranging from rolling prairie to pine plantations and bottomland hardwood forests. Even the pickiest of hikers should find a trail to his or her liking. If added miles are desired, the trails have been designed to connect so you can link one to another, providing up to an 8 mile loop around Lake Johnson.
Johnson-Sauk Trail is an all-season park, with summer hiking trails doubling as trails for 3 miles of cross-country ski trails. Trail maps are available.
The park's hills also are ideal for sledding and the lake provides an excellent place to go ice fishing or ice skating.
Hunting is a popular activity at the park. Johnson-Sauk Trail is one of the Department of Natural Resources popular Controlled Pheasant Hunting sites, with pheasant being released daily during the statewide hunting season (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Christmas & New Years).
Bishop Hill Historical Site: Located 20 miles SW of Johnson-Sauk State Recreation Area, this National Landmark Village is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or the day. There are museums, eateries, unique gift shops and art galleries as well as a variety of festivals. For details or assistance in planning your visit to Bishop Hill call (309) 927-3890.
Francis Park: Located 5 miles SE of Johnson-Sauk State Recreation Area, the unique home of Frederick Francis was built in 1890 out of brick, stone and native wood. The house features disappearing doors and windows, an air cooling system, radiant heat deflectors in the fireplace chimney, and running water, all without the benefit of electricity. Admission for the Woodland Palace is $2 for adults, $1 for kids, and is open seven days a week from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., end of April to the end of September. 309-852-0511.
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