Gebhard Woods State Park was
originally purchased from Mrs. William Gebhard by the Grundy County Rod
& Gun Club in 1934 for of $1,500. 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 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.
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 was originally
built to carry the canal over Nettle Creek and not not only adds to the parks
beauty but to the rich history of the area. A short hike to the aqueduct and with a smidgen of imagination, 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 provides 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 nicely located near the playground
area 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. If time allows, join in a baseball game on the diamond
while the smaller children enjoy the playground area. Horseshoe pits also areavailable near the large shelter.
Only primitive tent camping is available and
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. A camping permit must be obtained from the information center,
which is open 10am - 4pm daily.
Three fishing ponds
are 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 also is available in the Illinois & Michigan Canal
and Nettle Creek.
Gebhard Woods is 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 also can take advantage
of the groomed towpath to enjoy the natural and manmade wonders. The trail
is marked and has various wayside exhibits that describe canal era features encountered along the way. Due to the trail's composition, horseback
riding isn't allowed.
After a minimum of 4 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 also is
permitted on the trail.
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 allowed in the vanal. Gas powered motors are prohibited
due to the canal's shallow depth and fragile embankments.
From 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
- While groups
of 25 or more are welcome and encouraged to use the park's facilities,
they are required to register in advance with the site office
to avoid crowding or scheduling conflicts.
- At least
one responsible adult must accompany each group of 15 minors.
- Pets must
be kept on leashes at all times.
- Actions by
nature can result in closed roads and other facilities. Please
call ahead to the park office before you make your trip.
- We hope you
enjoy your stay. Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints.
- For more
information on tourism in Illinois, call the Illinois Department
of Commerce and Community Affairs' Bureau of Tourism at 1-800-2Connect.
Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information
(217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.