The Hennepin Canal
Breathtaking outdoor beauty can be found up and down the shores of the Hennepin Canal as it joins the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, running through the Bureau County communities of Mineral, Sheffield, Wyanet, Tiskilwa and Bureau. The role of the Hennepin Canal was a significant contribution to American History and played an essential role in early industry and commerce, earning itself a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hennepin trail system now includes 91 miles of surfaced bike trails, 73 miles of equestrian trails, 155 miles of hiking trails, and 90 miles of snowmobile trails. The main stem of the Hennepin Canal Parkway State Trail is part of the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail and forms a segment of the northern Illinois route of the 6,800 mile coast to coast American Discovery Trail.
Hennepin Canal Vistors Center
Before exploring the wonders at the park, make a visit to the Visitor Center [Map] near Sheffield, IL, where you can find a wealth of information about the history and construction of the canal, including displays that help illustrate the canals past - including tools used to build and operate it. To highlight the turn of the century engineering marvels, one will find a models of a lock in action as well one showing the aqueducts used to traverse natural waterways along the canals path. To top it all off, the Center provides a wealth of information covering much of the plant and animal life alone the canal's path.
Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, but may vary, so please call ahead!
Recreation Along The Hennepin Canal
The many canal day use areas are peppered with tables offering a picturesque venue to enjoy an afternoon picnicking with friends and family. Several sheltered picnic areas are also situated around the Canal's Visitors Center and offer playground equipment for the little ones, while restroom facilities are offered at most locations.
For the anglers in the bunch, fishing along the Hennepin Canal is definitely worth a trip. The canal is teeming with a variety of species including bluegill, crappie, walleye or bass, and is restocked by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regularly. So come on out, cast a line and enjoy yourself and the family along this beautiful waterway.
Those wishing to spend a night under the stars, need not look long as camping is available in several locations along the Hennepin Canal. Class "C" and Youth Group camping are allowed in park like settings located at Lock 6, 11, 21 and 22 as well as Bridge 14. Those seeking Equestrian camping can find it at Lock 21 as well.
Put the canoes in the water and spend a day making your way up and down the scenic waters of the Hennepin Canal. The calm waters make for a peaceful voyage for you and old alike, and make a weekend out of it by camping over a night or two.
For those looking for a Trek, the Hennepin Canal offers 155 miles of trails to explore. Take off on foot and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and fresh air along the canals banks and landscape. Most trails are relatively level, making them perfect for hikers of all ages and experience levels, intertwined through the many locks, bridges and aqueducts that make for an interesting and scenic journey.
Since the completion of the Hennepin Canal Parkway, bike riders of all ages can happily follow the original tow path on 91 miles of level and surfaced bike paths. Along the way, you will find ample opportunities for picnicing, sightseeing or bird watching which makes for a memorable family adventure.
If its a ride with the steed you need, the Hennepin Canal Parkway offers 48 miles of trails along the main canal and an additional 25 miles of trails following the Feeder Canal for Horseback Riding between April 15th and October 31st.
Map of the Hennepin Canal
Map Courtesy of the Friends of the Hennepin Canal - developing recreation on and preservation of the Hennepin Canal