The State of Illinois boasts an extensive park system comprising 41 state parks, 17 state wildlife areas, 11 state recreation areas, and six state forests, covering over 475,000 acres of land. Annually, nearly 44 million visitors flock to Illinois parks.
"Illinois has some of the most beautiful parks and trails available to visit all year long," said Representative Wayne Rosenthal. "It's important everyone has a place to unplug from daily stress, and visiting parks, trails, and hiking is great for mental health."
Illinois offers an impressive array of over 270 trails spanning over 700 miles. The largest is the 155-mile Hennepin Canal Parkway, followed by the 50-mile Illinois and Michigan Canal, stretching from Rockdale to LaSalle, and the 27-mile Rock Island Trail. Trails are strategically situated throughout Illinois, providing opportunities for physical activity and mental rejuvenation from communing with nature.
Parks and trails offer many health benefits, including increased physical activity, improved mental health, reduced air, and water pollution, the provision of communal meeting spaces, and the creation of safe environments for play and exercise, thereby reducing injury risks.
Eleven state areas offer trails for visually impaired hikers or the physically disabled. Visitors to parks and trails should stop at the visitor center or park office before venturing onto the trail. Grab a trail map and learn about the specific regulations of the area you will be in.