STATE PARKS OF
OGLE COUNTY, ILLINOIS
White Pines State Park
Lowden State Park
Sinnissippi State Park
Castle Rock State Park
WHITE PINES FOREST STATE
6712 West Pines Road, Mt. Morris, IL 61054
Located in the heart of Rock River Valley, this charming
385-acre park is the south boundary of the old Chicago-Iowa Trail.
History tells us that this was for years the principal route east
and west across the northern part of the state.
Today the park provides the perfect recipe for family
get-aways! There are plenty of outdoor recreation activities,
such as hiking, fishing, camping, bicycling and picnicking; lots
of serene, picturesque beauty; and modern lodge facilities amidst
a beautiful forest. What better way to retreat from the everyday
routine than to rediscover yourself and your family among the
"open spaces" at White Pines.
Along the meandering banks of Spring and Pine Creeks,
this scenic haven has magnificent trees that share moss-covered
cliffs strung with trailing vines. In season, colorful beds of
blooming trout lily, Solomon's seal, bloodroot, blue-eyed grass,
spring beauty, and hepatica are everywhere.
Small mammals such as red squirrels, raccoons, and
chipmunks thrive in the luxuriant undergrowth, and the spreading
branches above are filled with pine thrush, warblers, and, in
winter, flocks of migratory northern birds. One of the park's
most interesting features is the concrete fords that span the
creeks, allowing the visitor, quite literally, to drive through
the flowing streams.
White Pines Forest lies in the heart of Black
Hawk Indian country and is rich in historic accounts of the brave
warriors who resisted the efforts of settlers to drive them from
their beloved Rock River Valley. Eventually, however, the Black
Hawk War forced them out, and Chief Black Hawk himself was sent
into exile in the custody of his rival Keokuk.
When early settlers arrived, they found this
700-acre forest of virgin white pines extending for 1/4 mile along
the east bank of Pine Creek.
With a view to preserving Illinois' last stand
of white pines and the southernmost stand of white pines in the
United States, a movement was started in the early part of the
20th century to set the area aside as a state park. Through efforts
of Ogle County nature lovers, a bill appropriating $30,000 for
purchase of the land was passed by the legislature in 1903, but
the measure was vetoed. In 1927, however, they had more success,
and the forest was acquired.
A perfect place for a family outing, there are several
shaded picnic areas along Pine Creek with water, fireplaces, tables
and children's playgrounds. Of the four shelters in these areas,
two can be reserved and two are first-come, first-served.
Looking to spend a night under the stars? White
Pines State Park has 107 Class C campsites, with vehicular access,
as well as tent and trailer sites. In addition, there is a youth
group campground and an adult group campground. Because of the
nature of the terrain in this area, soft ground and high water
may sometimes close campgrounds. It's a good idea to check ahead
with the site superintendent's office to be sure the facilities
Whether you choose an easy walking trail or a
more difficult path, six of the seven marked trails are less than
a mile long and provide ample opportunity to see the beautiful
vine-covered limestone bluffs, blossoming spring flowers and whispering
When snow covers the ground, be sure to bring
your skis, as the White Pines trails are ideal for cross-country
skiing. Other winter activities such as sledding are available
for even more family fun.
For more information contact the White Pines
State Park, Park Office,
6712 West Pines Road, Mt. Morris, IL. 61054 -- 815-946-3717.
White Pines Inn, originally constructed by the
Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, has undergone an extensive
To preserve the historic ambiance of this wonderful
log cabin inn, the original stone and timbers were retained and
the new features were carefully blended to enhance the original
The lodge has 25 one-room guest cabins, 12 of
which have adjoining rooms. Each cabin sleeps four people and
is complete with shower, one double bed, and two twin beds. All
cabins are air-conditioned, heated, and have telephones and televisions.
The historic lounge area, which is part of the main lodge, is
filled with crafts and artwork, some made locally. A gift shop
offers everything from souvenirs to exquisite dolls, and homemade
Numerous homemade delicacies are offered at the
White Pines Inn Restaurant. The restaurant can accommodate up
to 223 people with several meeting/banquet rooms that seat up
to 118. Wedding receptions, retreats, seminars and family reunions
are all handled professionally and skillfully.
For lodge reservations call: 815 946-3817
or write to:
- White Pines Inn
- 6712 West Pines Road
- Mt. Morris, IL 61054.
LOWDEN STATE PARK
P.O. Box 403, Oregon, IL 61061
One of the most picturesque sites along the Rock
River is just north of Oregon in Ogle County. Legend has it that
Chief Black Hawk, as he left the area after the Black Hawk War,
talked of the beauty of the area and admonished his captors to
care for the land as he and his people had. Lowden State Park
was established not only to care for the land but to allow visitors
to share in the beauty as well. The park serves as a memorial
to Gov. Frank O. Lowden, who served Illinois during World War
You can enjoy many wonderful views of the Rock
River from the park, but the best view of the statue is from Illinois
Route 2. Just north of Oregon, the bluffs are graced with a majestic
image of an American Indian gazing over the Rock River Valley.
This is no ordinary statue. It is a 50-foot, concrete-reinforced
wonder that is awe-inspiring. A tribute to all Native Americans,
but more commonly associated with Chief Black Hawk, the statue
was designed by sculptor Lorado Taft. The setting sun seems to
bring the statue to life, but it is a spectacular view any time
of the day.
In 1898, Chicago attorney Wallace Heckman, who was
also assistant manager of the University of Chicago, purchased
the land that was to become Lowden State Park. He and his wife
had developed a great love of the outdoors while college students.
In Chicago society, the Heckmans also became patrons of the arts.
They combined these two interests in an artists' colony they established
on their Rock River property. The colony was called "Eagles'
Nest," referring to a tall, dead cedar tree that clung to
the high river bank. The bare outstretched limbs of the tree inspired
Margaret Fuller, a poet of the Concord Group, to write the poem,"Ganymede
to His Eagle."
For nearly 50 years, Eagles' Nest was a popular
home for creative people. The original group included artists
Ralph Clarkson, Charles Francis Browne, and Oliver Dennet Grove;
writers Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller, and Horace Spencer Fiske;
architects Irving D. and Allen B. Pond; sculptors Lorado Taft
and Nellie Walker; organist Clarence Dickinson; and University
of Chicago Secretary James Spencer Dickerson. Although Taft was
the moving spirit behind the colony, it continued to flourish
until 1942, six years after his death.
About a year after the last of the artists and
their families left the colony, Gov. Lowden died, and the legislature
appropriated $25,000 toward the cost of a memorial to him. The
citizens of Oregon and the vicinity, with help from the Department
of Natural Resources, matched that amount so that the former Eagles'
Nest land could be purchased as a memorial park. In 1945, the
63rd General Assembly designated the 273-acre site as Lowden State
Six years later, the 66 acres that composed the
actual Eagles Nest Colony were transferred to Northern Illinois
University at DeKalb for use as a outdoor teacher education program.
The site, called the Lorado Taft Field Campus, was renovated by
NIU's Industrial Arts classes and is used year-round for conducting
natural science classes in an outdoor setting.
Lorado Taft, who created the 50-foot statue as a tribute
to Native Americans, is said to have thought of the figure one
evening as he and other members of the Eagles' Nest colony stood
gazing at the view from the bluffs. According to a story attributed
to Taft, he and his colleagues tended to stand with their arms
folded over their chests. The pose made him think of the Native
Americans who were so reverent toward the beauty of nature and
who had probably enjoyed the same view.
With the help of John G. Prasuhn, a young sculptor
of the Chicago Art Institute, Taft created a figure almost 50
feet tall, including a six-foot base. Reinforced with iron rods,
the hollow statue is from eight inches to three feet thick. The
interior is accessible to park employees through a door at the
base. The outer surface, composed of cement, pink granite chips
and screenings, is three inches thick.
The figure is estimated to weigh 100 tons and
is thought to be the second largest concrete monolithic statue
in the world. Although Taft dedicated the statue to Native Americans,
it has become commonly associated with Chief Black Hawk.
One can enjoy the beauty of Lowden State Park
at any time of the year, and the picnic areas are open year-round.
Conveniently located near the parking lots, the areas include
tables, drinking water, park stoves, outdoor toilets, and litter
Individual and group camping sites include limited
electricity, a shower building, and a sanitary dumping station
for trailers. During the summer, a refreshment stand provides
cool drinks and snacks. Please contact park staff upon arrival
for a camping permit.
Almost four miles of good foot trails lead visitors
through the natural wonders and beauty of the park.
Boating and Fishing
The scenic Rock River flows through 34 miles of Ogle
County, with an average midsummer depth of three feet. A launching
ramp and boat docks are conveniently located adjacent to the park.
Motorboaters and water skiers will enjoy all the river has to
offer, but swimming is not permitted. Boat fishermen can spend
their hours catching largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill,
sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, northern and walleye pike,
bullhead, carp, sucker, and drum.
For more information contact:
- Lowden State Park
- P.O. Box 403, Oregon, IL 61061,
- 815 732-6828.