Chiseled out of the state's far northern region is Rock Cut State Park in Winnebago County. Nearby are other "rocky" landmarks - the mighty Rock River and the place where wagons once forded it, Rockford. It's an area of rolling plains, interesting history and a wide variety of recreational opportunities.
Rock Cut's 3,092 acres include two lakes: Pierce Lake, with 162 acres, and Olson Lake with 50 acres offer a retreat for people wanting to fish, ice fish or ice skate. The park's hiking trails, horseback riding trails and cross-country skiing and wildlife watching, as well as seasonal hunting programs, make it a year round recreation destination.
For those who want to include an overnight stay in their visit to Rock Cut, the campgrounds provide electricity at the site, water hydrants at the beginning of each camping loop, sanitary dump stations, showers, toilets, a boat launch and playground equipment. There are 210 Class A Premium sites and 60 Class B/S Premium sites. There is also a primitive cabin (it has electricity, but does not have water or plumbing facilities).
Fishing and Boating
One of the park’s most popular activities is fishing. Pierce Lake is named for state Rep. William Pierce of Rockford, who served in the legislature from 1951-1966 and who proposed the first land acquisition for the park in 1955. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish, as well as bullhead, northern pike, muskellunge and walleye. Any size engine is allowed on Pierce Lake; however, engines over 10 HP can only operate at no wake speed. Pierce Lake has docks and two launching ramps. Olson Lake also offers excellent fishing, with only carry-on watercraft and electric motors allowed.
The hunting program at Rock Cut allows hunters with disabilities an opportunity to participate in an IDNR program for managing the park's deer herd and turkey populations. A satellite location, Rockton Bog located in Rockton, IL offers archery deer hunting during the statewide season.
Knowing that a visit to a state park is more fun when there’s food to be enjoyed, picnic areas are scattered throughout Rock Cut, each complete with tables, outdoor stoves, and pit toilets.
Swimming - Olson Beach – Opened July 4th for the 2018 season
Now through labor day you can enjoy the sun and fun at Rock Cut’s own Olson Beach. Admission is only $5 for anyone over 48?, $2.50 for any under 48?, and free for all kids three years of age and younger. A great deal for the whole family. Volley ball nets are waiting for you. Just ask for the ball from the concession station. Snacks, Ice cream and beach toys are available at the concession stand. Boat Rentals, Stand Up Paddle Boards and Kayak Rental available soon.
Please be aware that food is prohibited on the beach. We are working hard to have clean environment and the food attracts animals to the beach. We have provided picnic table just outside the beach area for you to take advantage of.
We also do not allow smoking on the beach. We do not have lifeguards and as such children must be accompanied by someone 16 years old or older. In 2019 the beach will open Memorial Day weekend and close on Labor Day.
The trail system at Rock Cut offers opportunities for hiking (40 miles), mountain biking (23 miles), and equestrian (14 miles). Trail users will find updated trail head/information signs at picnic areas and trail access points for trail information and regulations. Only certain trails are designated for mountain biking and equestrian use and are identified by color-coded trail markers. Blue trails are for mountain biking and hiking, yellow trails are for equestrian and hiking, and red trails are restricted to hiking only. Rock Cut does not have horse rentals or stables at the site. Lockwood Park, a facility of the Rockford Park District, has trail ride and horse boarding opportunities available at their facility, which is approximately 10 miles from the park.
Trail activities have been divided into "summer and winter" seasons to provide quality seasonal programs. The "summer program" (mountain biking and equestrian) trails are open April 1-November 30. These regulations for mountain biking and equestrian use will be strictly enforced and violators are subject to fines.
The "winter program" provides for groomed cross-country trails as conditions permit. Cross country skis and snowshoes can be rented through the park concession; for hours and information call 815-885-4740. The groomed trails can also be accessed at the Lions Club Picnic Area. As a courtesy, hikers and those hiking with snowshoes are asked to use other trails that have not been groomed for skiing.
Rock Cut also offers access (at the Pierce Lake spillway) to the Willow Creek Bike Trail and Perryville Path, a paved trail system connecting the local communities of Loves Park and Rockford to Rock Cut State Park.
Take to the trails in the winter. A winding system of cross-country ski trails lets you take in the park’s winter beauty. Cross-country skis and snowshoes can be rented through the concession located at the Camp Store. For hours and information call 815-885-4740. There’s more winter fun with ice fishing as a great Rock Cut pastime.