Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River.
I went to hike, but had a hard time locating the trails. Many of the trailheads are unmarked and most of the trails just sort of disappear at some point into the woods. I did find a sign that listed the trails at one point, but the map attached wasn't very accurate. Apparently I wasn't crazy most of the trails had parts washed out during the flooding this year and do just sort of end with you standing in the middle of the woods looking at the river. If you are just going for the scenery, it's beautiful. There were some nice picnic shelters and some open areas to relax in. The parts of the trails that existed had lots of benches and picnic tables along them also. The campgrounds (which we accidentally stumbled into when a trail abruptly ended) seemed well maintained. Fishing seems to be one of the primary reasons to go (as well as hunting which I found out when I was already very deep in the woods).
This place is amazing. Its popularity is growing and you must take advantage of its exclusivity while you can. It's a secrete elk kept. Great to visit any time. The river is small and has a low current, but it's nice to get in and fish. Great star gazing spot. A lot of good spots to take sky pics.
Very nice campground. Well maintained and wonderful staff. The river is a short hike away. Nice fishing spots near by. Bring hand sanitizer or camp soap for the restrooms, there is no sink. We didn't have cell phone service down in the campground area. There is a gas station with a beer cave about 6 miles back towards 20. Have fun!!
We enjoyed a day trip there several months back, another spur of the moment trip. We enjoy traveling to new parks to go hiking. Apple River Canyon was fun place to check out & is a good place for lots of hill hiking & getting a good incline/decline workout in. Only wish we lived closer to visit more often.
Beautiful spot! We camped for the weekend in early April and enjoyed the quiet park and the canyon. The campground was clean, with a fire pit and picnic table at each campsite, and the vault toilet was clean and was sanitized every day we were there. (And had toilet paper.) Firewood was available for purchase at a stop just outside the state park, if you're coming from a different part of the state like we did. Staff were really friendly -- Dave even offered to help us move our tent and gear when we decided to swap campsites after the first night.