What to do in Gebhard Woods State Park

*This information was provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources*

History-Gebhard Woods State Park was originally purchased from Mrs. William Gebhard by the Grundy County Rod & Gun Club in 1934 for the amount of $1,500.00. A game fish rearing pool was developed on the property by the Rod and Gun club who in turn donated the property to the State of Illinois to be developed and maintained as Gebhard Woods State Park. Members of the Brandon-Morris Civilian Conservation Corps were employed by the Department of the Interior to clear and landscape this newly formed state park. The CCC developed two additional spawning pools for game fish, interior trails, a large shelter of handhewn beams with flagstone flooring, two small log shelters complete with fireplaces, a sheltered resting bench and a large stone fireplace.Today, hikers, campers, picnickers, and canoeists frequent this 30-acre site, making it one of the state's most popular state parks. Located in Morris, this picturesque park is bordered on the south by the Illinois & Michigan Canal and to the north by Nettle Creek which gently flows along the perimeter and through the park adding to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. Stately old trees including walnut, oak, ash, maple, sycamore, hawthorn and cottonwood provide ample shade throughout the park. In the spring, trillium, bluebell, white trout lily, violets, wild ginger, phlox, toothwort and spring beauties are just a sample of the wildflowers that can be enjoyed by park visitors.

Birds-Songbirds, mallards, wood ducks, green herons and great blue herons can be observed as they feed or nest in the park and along the canal banks. Beaver, muskrat, mink, raccoon and an occasional deer also call Gebhard Woods their home. The restored Nettle Creek stone aqueduct that was originally built to carry the canal over Nettle Creek adds not only to the parks beauty but to the rich history of the area. A short hike to the aqueduct, a smidgen of imagination, and one can almost envision a team of mules pulling a canal barge full of goods across this historic structure.The information center is located near the entrance of the park and is staffed year round. Information on Gebhard Woods, the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail, various Illinois state parks, camping permits and state hunting and fishing licenses may be obtained at the center. A full time Interpreter is on staff to provide educational opportunities to park guests and scheduled groups. Guided hikes and park programs are scheduled throughout the year, for specific details contact the information center at (815) 942-0796.

Camping-Primitive tent camping only: gear must be walked (1/3 mile) to campsite, no vehicular access. Fire rings, picnic tables, and grills are located in the camping area. A drinking fountain and pit toilets are located within a short distance from the camping area. A camping permit must be obtained from the information center which is open daily 10am - 4pm.

Recreation
Fishing-There are three fishing ponds available in the park. Bring your fishing gear and try your skill at catching bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullhead. These small ponds provide a great place for the entire family to enjoy a relaxing day casting away the hours. Fishing is also available in the Illinois & Michigan Canal and in Nettle Creek.

Trail Access-Gebhard Woods is only a footbridge away from the historic Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. This 61 mile trail on the old canal towpath is easy walking and gives access to unparalleled scenic and historic sights. Bicyclists can also take advantage of the groomed towpath to enjoy the natural and manmade wonders. The trail is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe features of the canal era encountered along the way. Due to the trail's composition, horseback riding isn't allowed.

After a minimum of four inches of snowfall, snowmobilers may travel the 61 miles of marked trail available along the canal. Registration is required, so call ahead to the park office for snowfall and registration information. Cross country skiing is also permitted on the trail.

Boating-Canoeists can travel 15 miles of the canal in open water between Channahon State Park and Gebhard Woods. Paddlers can spend the day enjoying the natural beauty and abundant wildlife as they float between these two parks. The Aux Sable access area located between Channahon State park and Gebhard Woods is home to an original locktender's house, Aux Sable aqueduct and canal Lock #8, a perfect place to land the canoe and have a picnic lunch. Small fishing boats with electric motors are also allowed in the Canal. Gas powered motors are prohibited due to the shallow depth of the canal and the fragile embankments.

Location
From Rte. #47 in Morris, turn west on Jefferson St (Jefferson will turn into Freemont St. a few blocks down). Continue on Freemont St. to Ottawa St, turn left on Ottawa St. and the Park is located approximately a block and a half down on the left hand side.

Climate
Illinois experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather throughout the year. Winter can be very cold. The highest humidity of the year occurs during this season averaging 70 to 75 percent. Average low temperatures in January dip to 20 degrees F with highs near 35 degrees F. Spring temperatures are mild with humidity below 70 percent. Temperatures during this season average between 32 and 50 degrees F. Summer is usually hot and humid in this Midwest state. Low temperatures remain in the low sixties with high temperatures near 90 degrees F. The highest rainfall of the year occurs during the summer months. Fall is an excellent time to visit the state with low humidity and rainfall and moderate temperatures.

Address
401 Ottawa Street P.O. Box 272
Morris, IL 60450

Phone: 815.942.0796

Email: imcanal@uti.com
  • Gebhard Woods State Park Travel Q&A

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