We decided to camp a mere 14 miles from home last weekend. Funnier still is we’ve not came here to hike or kayak either. Sometimes the best places are right in your backyard!!
The Chain O’ Lakes State Park, is located in northeast Illinois in both McHenry and Lake counties and became a state park in 1945 when the State of Illinois made an initial purchase of 840 acres. In the 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp became the Chain O’Lakes Conservation Area, and was incorporated into the state park in 1957.
The Chain O’Lakes is located in northeast Illinois and is made up of 15 lakes joined by the Fox River and man-made channels. The collection of lakes is 7,100 acres (29 km2) of water, 488 miles (785 km) of shoreline and 45 miles (72 km) of river. “The Chain is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States…” states the Fox Waterway Agency.
The Chain O’Lakes were formed when the Wisconsin glacier melted. The land of Chain O’Lakes State Park is primarily freshwater bog over deep peat layers. No worries drowning here… just stand up!! The river bluff slopes softly to the moraines that rise about 200 feet. Chain O’Lakes has a mixture of oak and hickory near the waterway, then going inland; cherry, elm, birch, sumac and spruce, plus some scattered pine stands.
If you zoom into this photo, you may be able to see the swallow type birds (maybe a purple martin?) that were catching fish and dragonflies.
Time to relax, crack a beer…
Sloooowly creeping up on the American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). I didn’t want to damage any of the two foot wide lily pads. I was using my hands to paddle up to it.
The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian, Miami, Mascouten and Potawatomi tribes, then during the 1880’s, Europeans started settling in. Later, in 1901, the train came to the area from Chicago, which opened up the area to tourism. Historically, Grass Lake was once almost entirely covered with American lotus each summer, which brought in boatloads of tourists.The area is also legendary for its hosting of 1920’s prohibition gangsters, including the infamous Al Capone, who owned a cottage on Bluff Lake near Antioch.
There was a very large stand of them.
Nymphaea odorata ~ Fragrant Water Lily
I wish I had known they were smelly, I would have stuck my nose in it!!
We weren’t sure what type of insect this was, possibly a robber fly?
If you squint really hard there is a kildeer bird and a sand piper in there. Gesh, maybe I could use a real camera with a zoom lens…
Two hundred acres of restored native prairie provide nesting habitat for grassland bird species. A check-list of the nearly 200 birds that have been identified in the park is available at the park office. Other wildlife that call the Chain home: white-tailed deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, foxes, badgers, beaver, coyotes and groundhogs.
We finally got to a great little bar that had wonderful, refreshing margaritas!! AND a Clean potty =-)
Chimney swifts build their mud nests under route 173.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl