Hennepin Canal State Trail

Dec 8, 2021 | 0 comments

By Karon Brown

Over Labor Day weekend I found a beautiful hidden Illinois gem, which is part of the Illinois DNR, the Hennepin Canal State Trail.

Built between 1892 and 1907, the Hennepin Canal was the first canal in America to use concrete rather than stone. Once a commercial and industrial waterway and towpath, the Hennepin Canal State Trail now offers 155 miles of hiking, biking, kayaking/canoeing, horseback riding, fishing and even snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter. 

While most of the locks that controlled the flow of water and traffic on the canal have been removed, there still are a couple of non-operational locks that have been restored. 

The trail extends from the Illinois River in Bureau, west to the Rock River in Rock Island, with a visitor center in Sheffield.  There are great picnic areas as well as first-come, first serve primitive camping allowed at designated areas along the canal. 

One of my favorite private campgrounds in Illinois is situated right along the canal, Geneseo Campground.

Link to Illinois DNR:  https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/Parks/Pages/HennepinCanal.aspx

Karon Brown – Contributing Editor & Illinois Chapter Guide

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