History buffs, nature lovers and sportsmen will thrill to the sights and sounds of the 96-mile route of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Along its banks are numerous state parks, restored historical sites, and abundance of wildlife and distinctive landscapes, ranging from bluffs to rolling hills. Visitors can follow the I&M Canal State Trail along the old towpath at Rockdale to LaSalle, experiencing 61.5 miles of scenic views and the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers. At every turn, trail users will find something of interest. One can spend an afternoon or several days exploring the wonders along this picturesque and unique area.
The trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights. Bicyclists also can take advantage of the groomed towpath to enjoy the natural and manmade wonders. The trail is marked and has wayside exhibits describing features of the canal. Due to the trail’s composition, horseback riding is not allowed.
After a minimum of 4 inches of snowfall, snowmobilers may travel the 61.5 miles of marked trail available along the canal. Call the nearest park office for snowfall and trail condition information.
Backpack carry-in is allowed at designated sites along the trail. Tent and youth group camping also is available at Channahon and Gebhard Woods. Open fires are permitted in camp stoves and fire pits provided at the sites. Permits must be obtained from the park offices prior to camping.
Channahon State Park provides shelters, tables and camp stoves, along with playgrounds, restrooms and water fountains. There are restrooms and drinking water located at the west end of William G. Stratton State Park, along the Illinois River. Gebhard Woods provides rustic beauty with five shady picnic areas which include, tables, shelters, restrooms and water fountains. Join in a baseball game on the diamond while the smaller children enjoy the playground area. Buffalo Rock State Park offers several picnic areas with ample shade, as well as a shelter house with a fireplace and restroom.
Bring your fishing gear to the canal and test your skill at catching bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, catfish and bullhead. Pond fishing also is available at Gebhard Woods. River fishing is popular at William G. Stratton State Park on the Illinois River.
Canoeists can travel 15 miles of open water in the canal between Channahon and Gebhard Woods State Parks, and 5 miles between Utica and LaSalle. Canoe access also is available at the Aux Sable Aqueduct and at Lock 14 in LaSalle.
Boating enthusiasts have easy access to the Illinois River at William G. Stratton State Park. Any one of the four boat launching ramps will provide your start to an afternoon of boating, fishing or water-skiing.