GEBHARD WOODS STATE PARK
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.
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.
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.
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.