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 Recreation Area 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.
Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area features 1,365 acres and abundant recreation opportunities.
Park hours are May 1 - November 1 from sunrise - 10 PM; November 1 - May 1 from sunrise - sunset. Lakeshore Loop Road is a day use area that is open May 1 - November 1 from sunrise - sunset..
The park features five picnic areas with tables and cook stoves/grills
The Chief Keokuk Campground features 70 pads with electrical hook-ups for campers or tents (Class A camping), plus 25 non-electrical, 'tent only' sites (Class C camping) that are not accessible by vehicle. A shower building and a sanitary dump station in the camping area, and all water are open May 1 and close November 1. The park does not provide water November 1 - May 1, however the campground is open during these winter months for electric or non-electric 'dry' camping.
In addition, "Blackhawk Group Area" on Lakeshore Loop Road is available for organized youth/adult group camping May 1 - November 1.
The playground in Chief Keokuk Campground is available to campers.
The 58-acre lake at Johnson-Sauk Trail SRA has a maximum depth of 21 feet, and features excellent populations of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and bullhead. Numerous fish cribs and attractors have been installed to enhance fishing. In addition, muskie and northern pike have been released in recent years, providing visitors with an exciting new fishing opportunity. Fishing is permitted by boat (electric trolling motor only) and along the shoreline. Fishing hours are the same as regular park hours. Night fishing is not allowed. The park is open only to campers after park hours.
Johnson-Sauk Trail Lake's boat launch is adjacent to the marina near the dam. Only electric trolling motors are permitted on the lake.
Johnson-Sauk Trail has 4 miles of trails, ranging from one-quarter 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 additional miles are desired, the trails have been designed to connect, so hikers 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 for ice fishing or ice skating when conditions permit.
Hunting is a popular activity at the park. Johnson-Sauk Trail is one of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' popular controlled pheasant hunting sites, with pheasant released daily during the statewide hunting season (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Christmas and New Year’s Day)