White Pines State Park

Lowden State Park 

Sinnissippi State Park

Castle Rock State Park


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 are open.


 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 pines.

 Winter Sports

 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 renovation.

 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 structure.

 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 candy.

 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.


 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 I.

 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 Park.

 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.

 The Statue 

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 cans.


 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.