Illinois & Michigan Canal
P.O. Box 272
401 Ottawa Street
Jill Jacksohn, Interpreter
Woods State Park was originally purchased from Mrs.
William Gebhard by the Grundy County Rod & Gun Club in 1934 for
the amount of $1500.00. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Woods provides rustic beauty with five shady picnic areas. These
areas are complete with picnic tables and grills. A large shelter
with electrical service, water fountain and restrooms is available
for reservations to host that special outdoor occasion. A slightly
smaller shelter near the front of the park complete with electricity
and nearby drinking fountain and restroom is available on a first
come first serve basis. Horseshoe pits are also available near the
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Illinois & Michigan
Canal State Trail
P.O. Box 272, Morris, IL 60450
questions or more information e-mail
our Region II Office. Please mention in your email the specific
park/site you have a question about.