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Gebhard Woods State Park  

Northeast Region trail along the canal

401 Ottawa Street
P.O. Box 272
Morris, IL 60450

Birds Fishing Trails
Boating History Visitor Information
Camping Interpretive Program  
Directions Picnicking  


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.


Gebhard 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.

Trail Access

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 hand side.


  • 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.
  • Telecommunication Device for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Natural Resources Information (217) 782-9175 for TDD only Relay Number 800-526-0844.

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