What to do in White Pines Forest State Park

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

Located in the heart of the Rock River valley, this charming 385-acre park is the south boundary of the old Chicago-Iowa Trail. History tells us that this was for years the principal route east and west across the northern part of the state.

Today the park provides the perfect recipe for family getaways. There are plenty of outdoor recreation activities, such as hiking, fishing, camping and picnicking. With lots of serene, picturesque beauty, and modern lodge facilities amidst a beautiful forest, there is no better way to retreat from the everyday routine than to re-discover yourself and your family among the open spaces at White Pines.

Along the meandering banks of Spring and Pine creeks, this scenic haven has magnificent trees that share moss-covered cliffs, strung with trailing vines. In season, colorful beds of blossoming trout lily, solomons seal, bloodroot, blue-eyed grass, spring beauty and hepatica are everywhere.

Small mammals, including red squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks, thrive in the luxuriant undergrowth, and the spreading branches above are filled with pine thrush, warblers and, in winter, flocks of migratory northern birds.

Among the park's most interesting features are the concrete fords that span the creeks, allowing the visitor, quite literally, to drive through the flowing streams.

History-White Pines Forest lies in the heart of Black Hawk Indian country and is rich in historic accounts of the warriors who resisted the efforts of settlers to drive them from the beloved Rock River valley. Eventually, however, the Black Hawk War forced them out and Chief Black Hawk himself was sent into exile in the custody of his rival, Keokuk.

When early settlers arrived, they found this 700-acre forest of untouched pine extending for 1/4 mile along the east bank of Pine Creek.

With a view to preserving Illinois' last stand of natural white pines and the most southern stand of white pines in the United States, a movement was started in the early part of the 20th Century to set the area aside as a state park. Through efforts of Ogle County nature lovers, a bill appropriating $30,000 for purchase of land was passed by the legislature in 1903, but the measure was vetoed. In 1927, however, they had more success, and the forest was acquired.

Lodging-White Pines Inn, originally constructed by the Civilian Conversation Corps in the 1930s, has undergone an extensive renovation. To preserve the historic ambiance of this wonderful log cabin inn, the original stone and timbers were retained and the new features were carefully blended to enhance the original structure.

There are 13 one-room cabins and 3 cabins with 4 rooms, for a total of 25 guest rooms. Each cabin sleeps four people and is complete with shower, gas log fireplace, one queen bed and one trundle bed. All cabins are air-conditioned and heated, and have telephones and televisions. The historic lounge area, which is part of the main lodge, is filled with crafts and artwork, includinga gift shop that offers everything from souvenirs to exquisite dolls and homemade candy.

Numerous homemade delicacies are offered at the White Pines Inn Restaurant. The restaurant can accommodate up to 223 people with several meeting/banquet rooms that seat up to 125. Wedding receptions, retreats, seminars and family reunions are all handled professionally and skillfully.For lodge reservations, call (815) 946-3817 or write White Pines Inn, 6712 West Pines Road, Mt. Morris, IL, 61054. Email the lodge at: nest@essex1.com.

Camping-Looking to spend a night under the stars? White Pines State Park has 103 Class B/S campsites with vehicular access, Class C camping and, in addition, there are two youth group campgrounds. There are six campsites accessible for the physically challenged camper. Because of the nature of the terrain in this area, soft ground and high water may sometimes close campgrounds. It's a good idea to check ahead with the site superintendent's office to be sure the facilities are open. Reservations for camping are no longer being taken. Contact the park or visit the web site for more information.

Recreation
Picnicking-A perfect place for a family outing, there are several shaded picnic areas along Pine Creek with water, fireplaces, tables and children's playgrounds. Of the four shelters in these areas, two can be reserved and two are first-come, first-served.

Hiking-Whether you choose an easy walking trail or a more difficult path, three of the seven marked trails are less than a mile long and provide ample opportunity to see the beautiful vine-covered limestone bluffs, blossoming spring flowers and whispering pines. The trails have color-coded markers to aid the hiker in orienteering. A nature trail with a limestone-screened path is accessible for the physically challenged.

Winter Sports-When snow covers the ground, be sure to bring your skis, as the White Pines trails are ideal for cross-country skiing. Two trails are available for cross-country skiing totaling 4.5 miles of groomed trails when weather permits.

Location
Directions-To reach White Pines Forest State Park from the Chicago Area, take Route 64 (North Avenue) west to Route 2 south in Oregon, turn left on Route 2 to Pines Road. At Pines Road, turn right and follow the signs to the park entrance, approximately 8 miles.

From the Northwest suburbs, take I-90 west to Route 20 at Rockford. Take Route 20 west to Route 2 south. You will go through Byron and continue to Oregon. In Oregon, continue to the south edge of town to Pines Road. Turn right on Pines Road and follow the signs to the Park entrance, a distance of about8 miles.

From the north or south, take I-39 to the Oregon exit (Route 64). take Route 64 west to Oregon. You will turn left at Route 2 and continue to Pines Road. Turn right on Pines Road and go about 8 miles to the park entrance.

If you are coming from eastern or western Illinois, take Toll Road IL RT 88 to the Dixon exit (Route 26). Take Route 26 north through Dixon to Lowell Park Road. Turn right and go about 11 miles to the stop sign which is Pines Road. Turn right on Pines Road and go about one mile to the park entrance.

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
6712 West Pines Road
Mt. Morris, IL 61054

Phone: 815.946.3717

Email: R1Parks@dnrmail.state.il.us
  • White Pines Forest State Park Travel Q&A

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