You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Illinois State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
Chicagoland Region
Chain O''Lakes State Park
start slideshow
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © jesse rawski
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Tracy Barnett
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Tracy Barnett
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Tracy Barnett
Chain O'Lakes State Park © Thanaphon Vongaroonniyom
Chain O'Lakes State Park Purple Spiderwort © Bob Clark
I found this deep purple colored flower in a damp field near a lake.
Availability Search
8916 Wilmot Road
Spring Grove, Illinois   60081

Phone: 847-587-5512
Reservations: 847-587-5512
Email: park email button icon
Located in the heart of Illinois' largest concentration of natural lakes, Chain O Lakes State Park is a water oriented recreation area with outstanding opportunities for boaters, anglers and skiers. The park borders three natural lakes - Grass, Marie and Nippersink - and the Fox River that connects the other seven lakes (Bluff, Fox, Pistakee, Channel, Petite, Catherine and Redhead) that make up the Chain. In addition, the park contains a 44-acre lake within its boundaries.

The 2,793 acre state park and adjoining 3,230 acre conservation area are located in the northeastern corner of Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties. The park is 60 miles northwest of Chicago, 20 miles west of Lake Michigan and only 4 miles south of the Illinois/Wisconsin border. With nearly 6,500 acres of water and 488 miles of shoreline on the chain, Chain O Lakes State Park is the heart of water wonderland.

Chain O Lakes State Park is open every day except Christmas. Summer hours, April 1 through October 31, are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. During the winter the park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The park is closed for all activities except hunting from the beginning of November through mid-December. Hunting is by registration only.
Nature of the Area
Turner Lake Nature Preserve

About 80 acres within the park have been set aside as a nature preserve to protect a segment of the park's bog environment and the unique plants associated with the area.

The land making up Chain O Lakes State Park is chiefly fresh waterbog over deep peat deposits. The river bluff areas and gently sloping morainal hills rise to 200 feet, and were deposited by Illinois' last glacier.

Chain O' Lakes has a mixture of oak and hickory hardwood timber. The park also contains cherry, elm, birch, sumac and spruce with rich colors that attract numerous visitors each fall, plus some scattered pine plantings.

Nature lovers will find a rich assortment of wildflowers in the spring, summer and fall.

Grass Lake once was almost entirely covered with American Lotus each summer, and attracted great crowds including tour boats, annually. The lake still contains some areas of lotus.

Two hundred acres of restored native prairie provide nesting habitat for grassland bird species.

Some of the wildlife you are likely to encounter within the park are white-tailed deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, fox, badgers, beaver, coyotes, and groundhogs. A check-list of the nearly 200 birds that have been identified in the park is available at the park office.
History of the Area
The Chain O Lakes area was inhabited by central Algonquian Tribes when Europeans first arrived in the Mid-1600's. The predominant tribes in the region at that time were the Miami, Mascouten and Potawatomi. These Native American groups led a semi-mobile lifestyle and grew corn, hunted, fished and gathered wild plant foods.

Joliet and Marquette passed through what today is Chain O Lakes State Park in 1673, as they traveled the Fox River during their Illinois explorations. French trappers and traders were the first Europeans to explore the area. The first European settlement was at Fort Hill, near Mundelein, a large mound rising out of the prairie, formerly a lookout point for the Indians.

Chain O Lakes became a state park in 1945, when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930's a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O Lakes Conservation Area. This land was incorporated into the state park in 1957. The farm at the park was purchased by the Department of Conservation in 1969. The property was originally owned by the Stevens family, farmers who received the land under a land grant in 1843.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bike Trailsyes
 Bridle Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
Park Store
The park's concession stand is open April through mid-October and offers food, ice, firewood, soft drinks, ice cream, fishing equipment and baits, and camper supplies. Boat and canoe rental also is available. The required safety equipment must be provided by the user or rented from the concessionaire. Additional information call (847)587-7165.
Three cabins consisting of two bunk beds and a double bed, can be rented for per night (which inlcudes a non-refundable reservation fee). Equipment provided: electric, table & six chairs, picnic table, cooking/fire grill,dust pan, broom and fire extinguisher. No restroom facilities are provided in cabin. Dogs and other pets are not allowed at cabin site. Reservations are recommended.
The park has Class A-Premium areas (Honey Suckle Hollow and Fox Den) with a total of 151 sites for each per night; three Class B-Premium camp areas (Turner Lake South, Prairie View and Mud Lake East) with a combined total of 87 sites for each per night; and we have one youth group camp area (Mud Lake West) for 150 youths, fee per person minimum per night. Maximum stay for campsites is 14 nights in a 30 day period. A responsible adult (18 years of age or older) acquiring a permit must have a camp shelter and set up at the time of registration. All campers must have a permit and also bring their own firewood, no one is allowed to pick up wood in the park. Alcohol is prohibited in the campgrounds.

If you're a novice camper, Chain O' Lakes has one Rent-A-Camp unit available. The camp site comes with a tent, cots, fire extinguisher, light, broom, dust pan, charcoal grill, fire ring and picnic table. No dogs or other pets are allowed at tent site. A maximum of eight people may rent the tent, the cost for tent rental is $32. A $5 non-refundable reservation fee is required.
1. Chain O'Lakes State Park offers a designated swimming area at Turner Lake.
2. Lifeguards are not provided, so swim at your own risk.
3. Swimming is only allowed from sunrise to sunset.
4. No pets or alcohol are permitted in the beach area for safety reasons.
5. The park does not provide any equipment rentals like floaties or snorkels; bring your own gear if needed.
6. The sandy beach provides ample space for sunbathing and picnicking before/after swims.
7. Swimming outside of marked areas can lead to fines as it's prohibited by law.
8. Park visitors must adhere strictly to all posted rules regarding water activities including swimming.
There is no charge to launch boats at the park, nor is there any horsepower limitations on boats using any of the Chain O' Lakes. Electric trolling motors only are allowed on boats on Turner Lake, a 44 acre lake in the park. A user fee is required for all boats using the Chain O Lakes charged by the Fox Waterway Agency. Stickers are available at the park concession stand/boat launch.
The park offers abundant fishing opportunities with a variety of species including muskie, northern pike, and yellow perch. Other fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish and walleye. Boat rentals are available for those who prefer deep water angling. Ice fishing is also an option during winter months.

Chain O''Lakes State Park is located near Antioch, Burlington and Cary

Horse Area
Horses can be rented at the park from May through October: phone (815)675-6532. The horse corral is located at the west end of the park near the entrance. Hay rides are also available.
The park features seven picnic areas with tables, water fountains, grills and toilets. Oak Grove, Maple Grove and Oak Point have playground equipment. Oak Pont, Deer path, Oak Grove and Catfish Cove have picnic shelters. Reservations and a fee are required for shelters. Groups of 25 or more must secure advanced written permission for picnics from the Park Office.
Biking enthusiasts can explore the 6-mile trail, suitable for all skill levels. Be aware of hikers and horseback riders.

The terrain is mostly flat with a few gentle slopes, but caution should be taken during wet conditions to avoid slips.

Riders must stay on designated trails only; off-trail biking isn't permitted due to potential environmental damage risk.

Helmets are strongly recommended while cycling in this park as safety precaution against unexpected falls or collisions.

Remember that cyclists share these paths with pedestrians and equestrians - always yield right-of-way out of courtesy and safety considerations.

During winter months, some parts may become inaccessible due to snowfall so plan your visit accordingly.

It's important not just enjoy the ride but also respect wildlife habitats along the way by keeping noise level down.

Lastly remember: leave no trace behind! Carry any trash you generate back home for disposal instead littering it around park area.
Chain O Lakes has four trail systems. The Nature's Way hiking trail starts at Oak Grove Picnic Area and is 2 ? miles in length. The Pike Marsh North Picnic Area has a trail especially designed for disabled users that is ? mile long. The park also contains an equestrian trail with three loops and a total length of 8 miles. Visitors can bring in their own horses for enjoyment on the trail. A parking lot for horse trailers with access to the equestrian trails is located near the park entrance. A biking/hiking trail, 6 miles in length can be accessed at any picnic area between the concession stand and the park office. In the winter all trails can be used by cross-country skiers with the park office doubling as a warming house on weekends with 3" of snow; hours are 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
The park offers diverse birding opportunities with over 200 species spotted, including waterfowl and songbirds. Birdwatchers can explore eight miles of trails or take a boat ride for different viewing experiences. The Fox River also attracts various birds throughout the year. For optimal sightings, visit during spring migration season.
Area Attractions
Ice skating and ice fishing are popular activities when the temperature drops and the ice thickens. During winter months, the horse trail, bicycle trail and Nature's Way trail can be used by cross-country skiers. During the winter months the park office doubles as a warming house. Sledding is another popular winter activity. Snowmobiling is not permitted in the park, but access to the frozen lake water is provided for snowmobile enthusiasts.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 10 Amazing Horseback riding by Heather McLymond
park review stars; one to five We had a grew time going horseback riding. Our guide Wyatt was very friendly, informative, and helpful.the trail had beautiful scenery and the horses were very well trained and well behaved. I would recommend this to any friend or family member. We found the grounds to be beautiful as well. All staff was very Nic and helpful.
May 1 Our favorite place to go. by Phillip
park review stars; one to five My fiancee and her kids went several times last year and loved it. The campsites are nice and secluded. You feel like you are the only one there. There are lots of trails to follow and playgrounds to keep the kids busy. We did not have any problems with noice and we plan on going back several times this year. If you enjoy camping and like to be secluded this is the park for you.
September 9 Nice sites but noisy
park review stars; one to five The tent sites were nicely sized and private, with good tree cover between sites. The campground was, however, quite noisy late into the night, in particular with many dogs barking at all hours and loud music playing until late. I would go again, but pack earplugs.
write a review read more reviews
Share On

Area Campgrounds
Fish Lake Beach Resort
32223 N US Highway 12
Volo, IL
Fox River Recreation Inc
27884 West Route 173
Antioch, IL
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
businesss listing main photo
Relax in the rustic beauty and comfort of Starved Rock Lodge, Cabins and Starved Rock Inn. The historic Lodge has 69 guest rooms, which include three bay-window rooms, plus cabins nestled in the woods. Fireplaces can be found in four of the eight sunset cabins near the pool area...
89.8 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

Chicago - North on I-94 to Rt. 173 exit; west Rt. 173 15 miles to Wilmot Rd; south 1 ? miles to entrance; park entrance on east side.

Rt. 12 from West Suburbs - West on Rt. 12 thru town of Fox Lake to Wilmot Rd.; North Wilmot Rd. 2 miles to entrance; park entrance on east side.

Wisconsin - South I-94 to Rt. 41; Rt. 41 south to Rt. 173; west Rt. 173 to Wilmot Rd.; south 1 ? miles to entrance; park entrance on east side.

state route ranger badge

Illinois State Parks